Windows 8 Interface at Heart of New Firefox

Dennis Faas's picture

Mozilla has unveiled the first version of a new browser specially tailored to work with Microsoft's upcoming operating system (OS), Windows 8.

The new edition of Firefox utilizes the Metro interface, which is expected to become a central element of the new Windows 8 user experience.

The Metro feature is primarily designed for effective use of touchscreen devices, such as smartphones, tablet computers, and any PCs that incorporate a touchscreen display.

The Metro interface is most notable for displaying information in special "tiles" that can easily be moved around on the screen and accessed with the touch of a finger.

Snap Feature a Key Part of Firefox for Windows 8

The Windows 8 version of Mozilla's Firefox browser embraces this Metro display motif. One of the more popular features it offers is the ability to "snap" a Metro application to Firefox, allowing the user to view both, side-by-side.

The new Firefox browser isn't designed exclusively for Metro, however. It can be used very effectively as a normal desktop application without any touchscreen capability.

Technically, this flexibility makes the software a "Metro style enabled desktop browser," under established Microsoft guidelines.

Default Browser Guidelines Present Problems

This flexibility could give rise to problems for Mozilla, however, because those same Microsoft guidelines insist that only a computer's default browser is allowed to operate in Metro mode.

If Mozilla's new browser is not selected by the user as the computer's default browser, it forfeits its Metro-style tile interface and works only like any traditional desktop application. (Source:

Should that happen, the new Firefox's navigation won't work in the way that Mozilla has tried so hard to make available.

Hopefully, this situation will change before the release of Windows 8 this fall.

If it doesn't, Mozilla might be just the first of many software firms who fall into this difficulty, and the new operating system's strict guidelines could open Microsoft to criticism and even legal wrangling.

In the meantime, Mozilla is promoting the new Firefox as the browser that can satisfy anyone. "You can navigate the web, create tabs, bookmark pages, build history, retain cache, adjust preferences, and more," said Mozilla's Brian Bondy. (Source:

At present, it doesn't appear that Firefox will ship along with installations of Windows 8. But that could change in the next few months. Until the situation is resolved, experts expect Internet Explorer 10 to continue as the new OS' default browser.

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