Print 37 comment(s) - last by mindless1.. on Jan 6 at 9:48 PM

Mozilla seems to be struggling to balance the desire for perfection with its need to put out product

It's official -- Firefox's Modern UI makeover has been delayed yet again.
Windows Modern UI -- better known as "Metro" (a name dropped midway through the Windows 8 testing cycle due to a trademark dispute with German retailer Metro AG) -- debuted in late Oct. 2012, with the launch of Windows 8.
After an early spat over permissions in the upcoming Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) OS in early 2012, both Google Inc. (GOOG) and The Mozilla Foundation reached an understanding with Microsoft.  Work started on third party Metro browsers at last.
The race was on in, with both Google and Mozilla announcing in February Metro browser plans.  Google's Metro-equipped Chrome landed in Nov. 2012, hot on the heels of the final Windows 8 release.  While a bit ho-hum in terms of styling, it was -- well -- released.

Firefox Metro Mode
Firefox in pre-beta Metro Mode from early 2013 [Image Source: Neowin]

The same could not be said for Mozilla's Metro Firefox build, which has crept along through various points of the test lifecycle, delayed multiple times.
While a much more ambitious, and arguably better-looking Metro makeover than Chrome's, Firefox's new look will have taken over two years of development to release -- if it avoids another frustrating delay.
When Mozilla first announced development, Firefox 12 was the latest finished release.  Today Firefox 26 is the latest and greatest, and like the 14 releases before it there's no official Modern UI support yet.  In December the roadmap indicated that Firefox 27 was the likely target to merge in the Metro changes.  Now Mozilla is saying it will do the merge with Firefox 28 in March 18.

Firefox Metro start screen
Firefox Metro mode is now coming with FF 28 [Image Source: Mozilla]

Either this is going to be the best browser for Modern UI ever, or Mozilla is going to have some tough questions to answer.  With 1,089 development "points" finished, its latest roadmap shows 131 left to go (about 10 percent).  The UI has slowly taken shape into a gorgeous example of a Metro app (unless, perhaps, you hate the Metro look in general).  But it sure has taken a long time.  Hopefully Mozilla can reach the finish line in this marathon in March.

(Note: While Microsoft dropped the "Metro" name for "Modern UI", fans and critics alike generally still refer to Modern UI as "Metro".  In fact Mozilla's official Modern UI project is dubbed "Firefox Metro Development Project".)

Source: Firefox Wiki

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Why Bother?
By KiwiTT on 1/2/2014 6:30:22 PM , Rating: 3
The 'new' Windows UI is so bad looking, why give any priority for working in that 'toy' interface. The real good browsing gets done in a full featured browser. If you want a compromised look, then by all means use that interface, that really belongs on a tablet/phone and not on 'real work' computer.

RE: Why Bother?
By retrospooty on 1/2/2014 6:44:05 PM , Rating: 2
I agree. They already have a browser for that horrible joke of a UI. If you are happy with Metro, you are probably also happy with IE because you dont know what good software looks like.

RE: Why Bother?
By ClownPuncher on 1/2/2014 7:19:27 PM , Rating: 2
What does it look like?

RE: Why Bother?
By retrospooty on 1/2/2014 11:22:31 PM , Rating: 2
For starters it's designed around what makes users happy and what users want not designed around what drives the companys other agendas. MS seems to have forgotten that lately.

RE: Why Bother?
By mindless1 on 1/6/2014 9:48:37 PM , Rating: 2
Lately? It's been MS' top priority to steer the market all along.

RE: Why Bother?
By inighthawki on 1/2/2014 7:39:45 PM , Rating: 3
Theres nothing wrong with the metro UI as long as you use it on the right device. Nobody in their right mind would use a metro browser on the desktop, but on a tablet, it's actually rather well done. I strongly prefer the metro based browser on my tablet, and actually think it looks and functions quite nicely with respect to the platform.

RE: Why Bother?
By Ticholo on 1/2/2014 8:11:59 PM , Rating: 2
It's now that well done. There are various gaps and inconsistencies.
It's not unusable with touch, in fact it's better with touch, but I really don't see what FF needs to do other than what they already did with Android. A similar interface would be at home in Metro with very little change.
Definitely not a 2 year job.

RE: Why Bother?
By MozeeToby on 1/3/2014 2:26:09 PM , Rating: 2
Except Firefox for metro isn't just for touch. So you've actually got to develop a UI that is effective for both touch and mouse and keyboard; a task that, and someone should really CC Microsoft on this one, is difficult or impossible. They are fundamentally different paradigms, trying to combine them into a single UI is a mistake.

RE: Why Bother?
By retrospooty on 1/2/2014 11:23:54 PM , Rating: 2
no one in their right mind would use Metro on a desktop? That's a great point. LOL

RE: Why Bother?
By althaz on 1/2/2014 7:34:38 PM , Rating: 2
IE 11 metro is a full-functioning browser. In fact it's the only full-functioning tablet browser - which is exactly what it is, a tablet browser.

Firefox Metro (or whatever) is also a tablet browser. Nobody would use a metro browser on the desktop (or at least I can't imagine it), but touch-centric Win8/WinRT computers exists (mostly as tablets) and metro apps (including browsers) are made for those PCs.

They aren't intended to be used on the desktop (although some of them are quite useful, the majority are not suited to a desktop).

RE: Why Bother?
By Alexvrb on 1/2/2014 9:23:30 PM , Rating: 2
It's good on touch devices, as are the Modern UI browsers. My advice for desktops? Don't use it if you don't like it.

RE: Why Bother?
By tayb on 1/3/2014 7:05:45 PM , Rating: 2
Hm. It's as if you don't understand that table/phone is exactly what Metro is supposed to be used for...

By Monkey's Uncle on 1/2/2014 6:23:34 PM , Rating: 2
If they make Firefox look like Metro on a Windows 7 or skinned (WindowBlinds) Windows 8 platform, I'll uninstall it faster than I installed it and move on to Opera or Chrome.

I don't like the look of Metro and won't use Windows 7 apps that look like it.

Metro Sux monkey turds.

By bigboxes on 1/2/2014 6:30:44 PM , Rating: 2
Yup. Uninstall it in a second. I've been with them since their initial release in 2002.

RE: As long as it is a WIndows 8 -only makeover.
By bug77 on 1/2/2014 6:34:47 PM , Rating: 2
Well, Metro is only available on Win8+. I don't think anyone can port the entire widget library on earlier versions (even though with the time Mozilla took, they may have done just that :D )

By Monkey's Uncle on 1/3/2014 1:54:34 PM , Rating: 2
If you install Office 2012 on Windows 7 you will get metro-ized versions of Word, Outlook, Excel....

They are butt ugly and one reason I will never buy or install Office 2012.

I just hope Mozilla isn't thinking along the same lines with FF that Micro$oft did with Office.

By lotharamious on 1/2/2014 7:07:07 PM , Rating: 3
Mozilla has no plans of bringing Metro Firefox to Desktop.

Firefox is getting a new desktop theme, however. They're calling it Australis:

Both form and function are improved. Personally, I think it's head-and-shoulders above the current Firefox 4.0+ theme.

Apparently on-track to release in Firefox 28, along with Metro:

Could have swore they held back Australis for 29, can't find any documentation to back it up, though.

By stm1185 on 1/2/2014 9:57:13 PM , Rating: 2
Australis, was the codename for it Chrome.

By inighthawki on 1/3/2014 2:26:11 AM , Rating: 2
Oh dear. While it looks technologically more impressive, I find that UI to look repulsive. Thank god firefox is pretty customizable. A decent theme shouldn't take long to come out.

By bug77 on 1/3/2014 10:54:10 AM , Rating: 2
Could have swore they held back Australis for 29...

IIRC, it was pushed back from 27 to 28, so that release plan looks just right.

Slowly coming into its own
By lotharamious on 1/2/2014 6:56:29 PM , Rating: 2
I've been following Mozilla's work on Metro Firefox since the beginning. It's been really slow progress the whole time, but speed, stability, and usability have taken a huge turn for the better over the last 10 weeks. It'll be really nice once add-on support is added, though that might not ship until next year.

That being said: right now it's no contest. IE has incredible polish and speed in comparison (feels pretty weird to say such things). IE11 Metro or bust. In another 6 months Firefox Metro should be at least as compelling as IE.

AFAIK, Mozilla does not have plans to port Firefox to Windows RT, which is what they might need to support Windows Phone, should they choose to go that route.

Disclaimer: I use and prefer Firefox for desktop for Windows.

RE: Slowly coming into its own
By domboy on 1/3/2014 9:20:33 AM , Rating: 3
AFAIK, Mozilla does not have plans to port Firefox to Windows RT, which is what they might need to support Windows Phone, should they choose to go that route.

If I've understood it correctly, I don't think they CAN release it for Windows RT. Doing a browser like this that can switch between desktop and modern modes requires it to be a win32 app, which Microsoft refuses to allow on RT for third parties. This is one of the best illustrations of why win32 signing restrictions on Windows on ARM is bad...

Metro/modern, STILL feldercarp!
By SDBud on 1/3/2014 3:58:00 AM , Rating: 2

I question why anyone would still waste time on something obviously NOT wanted by the majority of users.

No one cares
By Motoman on 1/2/14, Rating: -1
RE: No one cares
By Alexvrb on 1/2/2014 9:22:17 PM , Rating: 4
I hope Firefox takes the interns off this release and really gets their stuff together, because it looks like touch interfaces are here to stay. You know tablets and other portable touch devices are getting more and more common, right? Modern UI works well on touch devices. Have you ever tried to use Win7 on a touchscreen? It sucks. The Modern UI browsers are better for touch too, at least when you don't have the device set up on a desk/table (or docked) with a mouse.

More importantly, Win8 has Desktop AND Modern. You can connect a mouse and keyboard and switch to desktop at will. You can even boot to desktop and make lots of other changes. If they bring back a more traditional start menu, you'll have built-in options available for all devices. Even if I have almost zero need for the start menu myself, I really hope they bring it back for desktop users just so I don't have to read yet another post whining about it.

RE: No one cares
By Get_A_Nu_PC on 1/3/2014 10:03:38 AM , Rating: 1
I agree I'm tired of hearing all the windows “old-heads” whining about the desktop. That icon/ windows metaphor has been around since the late 1970's. I hate dealing with the desktop- It always becomes messy with icons and, you have to send a lot of time screwing with program windows. I really like Metro and use it on my desktop PC. I like the way it keeps the start menu clean and manages the display of multiple programs on the screen. The titles are informative. I have Sony's newest desktop Vaio (which I recently purchased instead of the iMac originally planned to buy). It is touch enabled but I use the mouse mostly and win8/ Metro really shines. The only problem with win 8 is the inter-mix of Metro and traditional desktop interfaces that causing confusion and preventing Metro from really shining. Maybe most of the people complaining just do not have a PC designed for the modern UI. It really is an improvement over the traditional desktop. So stop whining and move forward. That old metaphor of icons and windows on a desktop had its run and the quicker it dies the better.

RE: No one cares
By Motoman on 1/3/14, Rating: -1
RE: No one cares
By greenchinesepuck on 1/3/2014 11:47:26 AM , Rating: 1
Both of you morons realize that the Metro UI is why Win8 is universally hated, and why MS is backtracking like mad to put the real Windows desktop and Start menu back in it
What kind of shit are you smoking dude? This lunacy sounds exactly like your constant crying and whining about Apple being evil cult etc LOL :)))

Yeah. keep dreaming that MS will resurrect old dead start menu. Moron.
It's even irrelevant on a laptop, since constantly taking your hands from the keyboard to the monitor is a massive disruption in trying to use the device
Bullshit. Touchscreen could be very convenient on a laptop, I find myself constantly using my wife's Acer Aspire V5 touchscreen when scrolling lists or clicking buttons or doing similar on screen manipulations, even in desktop mode it could be useful sometimes, in a sense that it speeds up a lot of UI operations. It's much faster to touch screen with your finger than fussing around with touchpad on your laptop. So get back under your rock, luddite, and stop whining about progress. Got it?

RE: No one cares
By Bateluer on 1/5/2014 7:57:43 PM , Rating: 2
> Yeah. keep dreaming that MS will resurrect old dead start menu. Moron.

Yeah . . . about that.

First smart move that Microsoft has done with Window 8 since its release.

> I find myself constantly using my wife's Acer Aspire V5 touchscreen

I have an Acer V5. And the touch screen is only useful because the track pad is so crappy. I plugged in a wireless mouse to make the laptop usable. Given the issues with W8's key being embedded in the EFI, making installing any other Win8 version or switching out the mechanical drive for an SSD impossible without torrenting an OEM W8 ISO, the V5 almost got sent back to Newegg.

RE: No one cares
By ICBM on 1/3/2014 1:20:26 PM , Rating: 4
I find it hilarious that desktop people are still complaining. Everyone of my friends has made the switch to 8 and nobody has regretted. Desktop is alive and well in 8/8.1. I see ZERO downside to having metro in ADDITION to the traditional desktop.
If you are on a desktop, then don't use metro, simple and easy.

Tablets/Touchscreen laptop; metro in addition to having a true desktop is great and works really well imo.

An app written for metro, and one that really takes the design of metro into account can be a great thing. IE11 for metro works very very well, and the bing news app is fantastic as well. I am assuming firefox is targeting this same level cohesiveness, which if achieved, will be a great and much needed app.

RE: No one cares
By Monkey's Uncle on 1/3/2014 7:32:49 PM , Rating: 1
"If you are on a desktop, then don't use metro, simple and easy."

You are absolutely right. Don't use Metro. Stick with Windows 7 and you will never have to subject yourself to that moronic UI -- unless guys like Mozilla insist on bringing metro styling to FireFox.

RE: No one cares
By Alexvrb on 1/3/2014 11:37:15 PM , Rating: 2
I'm quite certain Firefox will use seperate UIs for Metro and Desktop, just like IE10/11 does. Works quite well.

RE: No one cares
By Gondor on 1/4/2014 2:42:35 PM , Rating: 2
I'm quite sure that unless they somehow figure out how to get rid of all the new bloat and fix the interface to make it look like 3.6.28 again without a dozen or so add-ons I won't bother with Firefox anymore.

By all means go Metro Mozilla team, it's about time somebody else takes over.

RE: No one cares
By Bateluer on 1/5/2014 7:58:45 PM , Rating: 2
odd, I tried switching on 4 separate occasions. On each, I spent more time fighting the OS to make it work than I did actually working. I'll stick with 7 and wait until Microsoft pulls head from buttocks.

RE: No one cares
By Bateluer on 1/5/2014 8:02:37 PM , Rating: 2
Bah, hit the submit too quickly.

I wanted to add this. Windows 8 was supposed to reverse declining PC sales, instead, it accelerated them even faster. Its almost universally reviled. Windows 8.1 was supposed to reverse declining PC sales. Instead, it also accelerated them. The return of the Start Button, which takes the user directly to the once place in W8 they never actually want to go, the Start Screen, was like having MS jiz directly into your eyeball.

Microsoft simply cannot ignore their users like this. 1 in 5 laptops sold in Q4 2013 was a Chromebook. If Microsoft doesn't do an about face quickly, they'll lose the low end to Google and high end to Apple. Heck, they might even lose the midrange to Google if ChromeOS develops well and OEMs make mid-spec hardware for it. This is the first time in years that Microsoft has had real competition in the end user desktop space, and they seem to be completely clueless on how to react.

RE: No one cares
By Alexvrb on 1/3/2014 11:53:53 PM , Rating: 2
Both of you morons realize that the Metro UI is why Win8 is universally hated, and why MS is backtracking like mad to put the real Windows desktop and Start menu back in it, right?
Pleasant fellow, as always. Win8 Desktop mode works fine. Throw in third party or eventual first party traditional start menu and there's no issue. Again, best of both worlds, options for every device.
You want Metro on phones and tablets? Fine. I'm sure it works well there.

But the market has unreservedly rejected Metro on PCs and laptops.
My point is that Modern is here to stay, in some form or another. Traditional desktop is pretty bad for touch, and Modern works great for touch - although from your comments you've made it obvious that you wouldn't know.

Also, I have to take issue with your assumption that touch is useless on laptops. Especially consider smaller ultrathins/hybrids in the 12-14" range. If you've got a laptop set up with a mouse, you probably won't use the touchscreen much. But if you take full advantage of it's mobility and use it or on the go with no mouse, keyboard + touchscreen combo is often handy.

RE: No one cares
By Bateluer on 1/5/2014 7:53:50 PM , Rating: 2
> I like the way it keeps the start menu clean and manages the display of multiple programs on the screen.

Its actually horrible at that. The Start Screen quickly becomes an unusable mess of infinite horizontal scroll. The end result is that the user either puts shortcuts to EVERY program onto their desktop, or unpins everything except a few important programs, or simply installs ClassicShell or equivalent and goes back to actually using their PC. And not poking around blindly in Metro.

Windows 8 from the Start Screen is utterly unusable if you don't have a touch screen. If you do have a touch screen, its only marginally usable. Even if you're on a tablet, its meh.

Touch screens for desktops and notebooks will probably disappear from the market in another year, being gimmicks with no real advantages.

"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates

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