The Metro user interface is a gamble for Microsoft, there is no doubt about that. The company bets big time on touch, and many desktop users have expressed concern that the Redmond company is forgetting their core user base in the change.
With Metro come changes that software developers need to take into consideration. Probably the biggest one is that desktop apps won’t run under Metro, and vice versa. Microsoft for instance plans to ship Windows 8 with two versions of Internet Explorer 10. First the direct upgrade from the current state of the art Internet Explorer 9, and then a specialized Metro version that handles lots of things differently.
Third party browser developers like Mozilla and Google need to produce a Metro version of the browser as well, if they want to make their browser available system-wide. Especially the fact that the Metro browser will be the default system-browser is something to consider, as it could move market share back to Microsoft if the other browser vendors are not also pushing out Metro versions of their web browsers.
Mozilla today announced that they have completed a first prototype of Firefox for Metro. The browser at this stage of development is based on Firefox for mobile. It is not clear yet if the developers will change the browser core at a later point in time, or stay with the mobile code. This depends largely on tests that will begin later this week when a first installer is said to be released.
Brian Bondy, the project manager, has posted screenshots of Firefox Metro.
Platform integration is also progressing along well, with search, sharing, app snapping and file opening and saving all neatly integrated into the Metro user interface in the prototype.
With Firefox making big steps towards a first beta version, it is only a matter of time when a beta, release candidate and final version of the browser get released. If everything stays smoothly, it may even be before Windows 8 gets released officially.