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Firefox commits to Windows 8's Metro

Firefox commits to Windows 8's Metro

Mozilla has said it will build a "proof-of-concept" version of Firefox for Windows 8's Metro touch-first interface next quarter, then follow that with more functional editions later in the year, Computer World reports.

The company is the first of Microsoft's browser rivals to publicly commit to a Metro edition. Microsoft has said it will ship both Metro and traditional desktop versions of Internet Explorer 10 (IE10) with Windows 8 and Windows on ARM (WOA), the new OS targeting tablets and other low-powered devices.

Metro is a new user interface that replaces the Windows start button and menu with a grid of tiles, CNET notes.

Those tiles launch software, but when they're on people's home screens, they can also display anything from photos to message notifications. Deeper down, Metro comes with an entirely new set of programming interfaces called WinRT that mark a big departure from the last several years of software development on Windows.

"The feature goal here is a new Gecko-based browser built for and integrated with the Metro environment," Mozilla's planning document said, referring to the Firefox browser engine. "Firefox on Metro, like all other Metro apps, will be full-screen, focused on touch interactions, and connected to the rest of the Metro environment through Windows 8 contracts," a mechanism by which one app can hand off tasks – opening a Web page or sharing a photo, for example – to another app.

One of apps that Microsoft plans to include as a Metro/Desktop or "MetroTop" application is Internet Explorer, I Programmer writes.

What this means is that other browser makers are at a serious disadvantage. They can choose to continue to develop their desktop browsers or create a Metro version, but they can't create a MetroTop app.

This is the problem that Mozilla is now confronting and it seems to be lacking a lot of information.

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