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Print 50 comment(s) - last by lexluthermiest.. on Dec 18 at 11:08 PM

Google released a third-party Metro browser a year ago, but Mozilla hasn't been quite as quick

One of the occasional criticisms of Windows 8 has been the notable absence of support for the popular Firefox browser within Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) blocky pastel Modern UI, better known as "Metro".  After nearly two years it's starting to seem like Mozilla might never finish its Metro browser -- but as Duke Nukem Forever taught us, never say never.
 
I. Chrome OS -- On Time, if a Bit Ho-Hum
 
Windows 8 shipped with Internet Explorer 10 as the default browser when it launched in Nov. 2012.  Windows 8.1 -- a free upgrade to Windows 8 -- aired last month with a new Microsoft Metro-enable browser version, Internet Explorer 11 (IE 11).

Chrome Metro Browser
Chrome in Metro Mode (Nov. 2012) [Image Source: Tablet-News]

After initially quibbling with browsermakers over permissions and instituting what Google Inc. (GOOG) (maker of Chrome) and The Mozilla Foundation (maker of Firefox) claimed amounted to a third party browser ban, Microsoft relented announcing support for "Metro style enabled desktop browsers".
 
Google offered up a metro-enabled Chrome browser alongside Windows 8 last November.  By setting Chrome as your default browser and enabling it to launch in "Metro mode" (versus "Desktop mode") you gained access to Modern/Metro UI niceties, including snap side-by-side browsing, full screen browsing, close gestures, and a charms menu, which included a share option.  Chrome might not have received a drastic metro redesign in terms of look, but it was out there at least.
 
II. Firefox -- Super Late
 
The same could not be said for Firefox.  In development since the Microsoft March 2012 style announcement, Mozilla Firefox first started to receive Metro-geared pre-beta test builds in October 2012 under the Firefox 18a1 ("Elm") non-standard branch of the nightly build tree.  The builds looked nice, but were relatively bug laden.
 
In February, Metro Firefox -- still in pre-beta -- moved from "Elm" to the standard nightly build test tree (pre-beta).  This version ran significantly smoother although it still lacked Windows RT support.

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

Continuing its path to broader testing, the Metro/Modern build hit the Aurora (late alpha) test channel on Sept. 21 -- a few days off the previously stated Sept. 16 launch target.  Mozilla wrote:

Because this new version of Firefox uses the same powerful Gecko rendering engine as in Firefox desktop, there’s also support for WebGL for compelling 3D graphics and asm.js which supercharges JavaScript in the browser, allowing developers to port high performance C++ games to the Web. Hardware accelerated full HTML5 video is also supported, including open video formats like WebM and proprietary formats such as H.264.

At that meeting, the August target for the beta remained at Oct. 28, but the target for the release (which will be part of Firefox 27 for Windows 8/8.1) was set to Jan. 21.  Oct. 28th came and went with no Metro Firefox beta.  Today that beta arrived -- over a month late.  As a result of the slip, the launch date slid even further to Feb. 4.  At that point Metro Firefox will have been in development for just about two years.

Firefox Metro start screen
Firefox 27 w/ Metro Mode beta, Start Screen [Image Source: Mozilla]

But on the plus side, Mozilla did show of a pretty new start screen filled with helpful hints about the Metro UI mouse/touch controls.
 
Even this late in the development cycle Mozilla continues to push major revisions to make its browser more Metro-rific.  It showed off a pretty new start screen filled with helpful hints about the Metro UI mouse/touch controls.  We suppose the saying "better late then never" applies here; and to Mozilla's credit it did seem to go the extra mile when it came to coming up with a slick new look for Metro, where as Chrome's Metro UI looked more like an afterthought.
 
III. 2014 -- The Year of the Metro Browser
 
Metro hasn't been Mozilla's only development struggle of late; the browser maker has been trying to get 64-bit support added for the last couple years as well.  It scrapped support in late 2011 only to add it back to the Nightly builds late last year.
 
Mozilla has perhaps been drained by its effort to put out its own Linux variant (Firefox OS), which is starting to compete with Google's Android OS in the budget smartphone space.  Mozilla lacks the monetary resources of Google, but it remains relatively ambitious if a bit bad at meeting deadlines.
 
As for Google's recent builds, it's still not looking to conform to the typical Metro look.  Instead, it's leveraging Microsoft's permissions to bake Chrome OS into Windows 8 when you run your browser in Metro mode.  This Inception-esque scenario can be viewed perhaps as the VMWare equivalent of the Metro/Chrome OS world.
 
As for Microsoft, its just launched IE 11 build is earning glowing reviews for speed (which vies with Chrome for the title of fastest browser) and compatibility.  However, it lacks the cloud-synchronization and extendibility (including ad-blocking) that Chrome offers (and the ability to serve as a Chrome OS app launcher).

Chrome OS in Metro
Chrome OS inside Chrome running in Metro Mode [Image Source: PC World]

Firefox will join this competitive mix feature perhaps the nicest looking theme (if you like Metro), and at least some of the extendibility of Chrome (just no Chrome OS apps).  The current builds still have enough bugs and unsupported features from recent releases that it's impossible to tell how fast Firefox will be when it launches.  But regardless, the good news is 2014 looks to be the year when the browser market for Windows 8 finally gets competitive.

Source: Mozilla Meeting Notes



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"Super Late"
By Reclaimer77 on 12/12/2013 9:20:42 PM , Rating: 1
Get used to seeing that for pretty much every app. The Windows 8 Store is a barren wasteland and probably always will be.




RE: "Super Late"
By nikon133 on 12/12/2013 9:57:38 PM , Rating: 5
True, lack of fart apps is staggering.


RE: "Super Late"
By Tony Swash on 12/13/13, Rating: -1
RE: "Super Late"
By retrospooty on 12/13/2013 7:56:11 AM , Rating: 2
And he wonders why we call him passive aggressive. ;)


RE: "Super Late"
By Monkey's Uncle on 12/13/2013 11:30:59 AM , Rating: 2
Mystery solved.


RE: "Super Late"
By troysavary on 12/13/2013 7:38:57 AM , Rating: 4
Luckily, millions of Windows desktop programs work just fine. You can have your "apps", many of which are just webpages anyway.


RE: "Super Late"
By ClownPuncher on 12/13/2013 12:14:26 PM , Rating: 2
I find it to be a much better OS and interface than Android. SO much wasted space in Android based operating systems.


RE: "Super Late"
By Reclaimer77 on 12/13/2013 5:50:42 PM , Rating: 2
Android isn't a desktop OS, soooo ummm, what are you talking about?


RE: "Super Late"
By ClownPuncher on 12/13/2013 6:05:55 PM , Rating: 2
ChromeOS, whatever. Another anemic patched together operating system from the same overrated company.


RE: "Super Late"
By lexluthermiester on 12/14/2013 3:26:00 AM , Rating: 2
And that differs from Windows, Linux, Unix, BSD or MacOS how?


RE: "Super Late"
By Tony Swash on 12/13/2013 3:17:37 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
You can have your "apps", many of which are just webpages anyway.


How many?


RE: "Super Late"
By troysavary on 12/15/2013 3:50:29 AM , Rating: 2
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, etc. You know, all those "essential" apps that people always say you need. Anything that can be done in the browser just as well doesn't need an app.


RE: "Super Late"
By Argon18 on 12/13/2013 11:33:17 AM , Rating: 1
What is the "Windows 8 store"? Is this a real thing? I've not heard of it before.


RE: "Super Late"
By themaster08 on 12/13/2013 12:35:17 PM , Rating: 3
You wouldn't have heard of it, because your opinion of Windows is stuck in a 1995 mindset.


RE: "Super Late"
By retrospooty on 12/13/2013 4:16:08 PM , Rating: 2
LOL. Yup. His head is truly up his ass on the subject of MS.


RE: "Super Late"
By lexluthermiester on 12/14/2013 3:27:47 AM , Rating: 2
That must be sarcasm....


RE: "Super Late"
By lexluthermiester on 12/14/2013 3:33:20 AM , Rating: 2
Really? So the fact that most people don't like Windows 8/phone means that we're all stuck in Windows 95 mentality? Or does that mean that we like an OS that is easy to use, isn't cumbersome, ugly and annoying and will do what we want it to instead of whatever MS thinks we want?

Riiight, think that over for a moment genius...


RE: "Super Late"
By inighthawki on 12/14/2013 3:49:43 AM , Rating: 2
No he just means you're retarded if you didn't know Windows 8 had a built in store. You have like, 110% missed the point.

If you actually go back and reread what he wrote, since you obviously didn't the first time, he didn't say anything about liking or disliking any version of Windows or the UI. Just that it has a store.

On top of that it's a joke because Argon18 is a well known anti Microsoft troll who goes WAY out of the way to bash Microsoft, and it's usually fairly evident that the last version of Windows he touched was probably Windows 95, hence the joke about him being stuck back there, and the joke being that it is why he was not aware of what the Windows 8 store was.


RE: "Super Late"
By lexluthermiester on 12/18/2013 11:08:48 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
You wouldn't have heard of it, because your opinion of Windows is stuck in a 1995 mindset.


quote:
No he just means you're retarded if you didn't know Windows 8 had a built in store. You have like, 110% missed the point.


I missed what? The "Windows Store" is NOT built in to Windows 8/8.1/RT/Phone. If it were you would be able to use it without an internet connection. The only thing built in about it is the browsing interface used to connect to the site serving the store.

quote:
If you actually go back and reread what he wrote, since you obviously didn't the first time, he didn't say anything about liking or disliking any version of Windows or the UI. Just that it has a store.


Ya, and the store is just as pathetic as the OS it's used on/for.

quote:
On top of that it's a joke because Argon18 is a well known anti Microsoft troll who goes WAY out of the way to bash Microsoft, and it's usually fairly evident that the last version of Windows he touched was probably Windows 95, hence the joke about him being stuck back there, and the joke being that it is why he was not aware of what the Windows 8 store was.


The fact that you just admitted that you know enough about the posts this guy makes tells us all that you are just as much the trolling loser you claim he is. Grow up, get a clue and get life. Quit spending so much of it on DT, half wit...


This just in
By Spuke on 12/12/2013 6:41:55 PM , Rating: 3
Windows 8 without a Start button will be the downfall of Microsoft. Even my grandmother hates it.




RE: This just in
By inighthawki on 12/12/2013 7:11:24 PM , Rating: 3
Cool story bro. So what does the start button have to do with this article?


RE: This just in
By Mitch101 on 12/12/2013 8:20:36 PM , Rating: 1
Ok so when Start comes back in a Windows 8 patch what will people pick to hate about Windows 8?

Will there be a sharp decline in trolling and thread crapping?


RE: This just in
By inighthawki on 12/12/2013 9:38:09 PM , Rating: 2
Based on personal opinion and various posts I've seen, I believe the next step will be aero glass.


RE: This just in
By kmmatney on 12/13/2013 12:05:48 AM , Rating: 3
For me, it's the launching of full screen Apps when you are using a desktop system. The entirety of Modern UI just doesn't work well on desktop systems with large, non-touch screens. I successfully avoid the start screen and everything that goes with it, but it will occasionally rear its ugly head, and I'm reminded of how much it sucks. The "Start" button in Windows 8.1 is completely useless, but replacing it is easy enough.


RE: This just in
By inighthawki on 12/13/2013 11:42:49 AM , Rating: 2
I read his comment more as "when 8.2 arrives" more so than just the start menu (Assumed he was referring to the recent leak about 8.2 and the inclusion of a start menu and windowed metro apps). So my assumption was the only remaining complaint would be the removal of aero/glass, since it would really be the only true difference from 7 at that point.

I do hope they fix that. Windows without aero glass looks so awful... I have a few friends who say otherwise, that they like Windows 8's theme better, but when I drill them down I usually get the truth which is not about the glass (blur) but more about the simpler style - squared edges, simpler geometry, or the removal of that reflection effect. I showed them what Win8 looks like with big muscles aero glass mod and they all liked it better.


RE: This just in
By coburn_c on 12/13/13, Rating: 0
RE: This just in
By BifurcatedBoat on 12/13/2013 5:40:58 PM , Rating: 2
It looked cool, but you're right, it was a gimmick.

What I dislike though about MS's new UI designs is not the lack of transparency and 3D effects, but the lack of contrast and delineation.

It's like they decided that boundaries of UI elements were ugly, so they hid them to make an overall prettier picture. But now I have to strain my eyes to actually use the program because nothing stands out anymore.

"Is that word I'm looking at there a menu item, or a button, or a tab, or part of the text in the text box that's close to it?" Without being able to tell where the boundaries of things are, everything just mushes together into a big gray blob, and it requires concentration and logical thought to figure out what you're looking at.

Before it was obvious. You could just glance at the screen out of the corner of your eye and instinctively tell what everything was without having to think about it.


RE: This just in
By inighthawki on 12/14/2013 3:38:48 AM , Rating: 2
Oh please. Green? We're not talking about massive amounts of waste. The amount of power usage is negligible. The cost of rendering aero glass on the desktop for an entire days worth of work is probably less than it costs to power a light bulb for an hour.

Why do I care? Because I find 8's UI to be painfully awful to look at. It is actually so bad that it is distracting to me. I like glass, and it's what I want. Why should I "settle" for something less than what I like.

quote:
That is until you spend some time with the new OS and see the 6.3 back-end improvements

Back end improvements have nothing to do with UI preference. It's possible to have both. Aero glass was easily able to be disabled via a checkbox in personalization. Why couldn't that just remain there? If you're worried about the the battery performance or like it solid, disable it. For those who feel it was a superior UI, let us keep it.

You sound like someone who has their own preference that UI doesn't matter to you as long as you can get done what you need to with the same functionality. Great for you. For those of us that look at a computer screen all day, we like to look at something we think looks nicer, and not some hideous solid blocks of color with almost no depth. I also have a high end video card. I purchased it to run applications on my computer with higher graphical settings. Should windows not apply because it's not a game?


RE: This just in
By retrospooty on 12/13/2013 8:01:13 AM , Rating: 3
Start menu, non- full screen Metro, and Aero. Then we will be happy with it. Based on the latest leaks, we are at least getting the first 2 which are the biggies.

Sweet. The millions and millions of people complaining system works. =)


RE: This just in
By Monkey's Uncle on 12/13/2013 11:26:54 AM , Rating: 2
Indeed to does - particularly when those millions and millions refuse to buy the product because it sucks.

No better way to get a message across than a kick in the wallet.


RE: This just in
By Da W on 12/13/13, Rating: 0
RE: This just in
By ClownPuncher on 12/13/13, Rating: 0
:p
By Motoman on 12/12/2013 11:47:47 PM , Rating: 4
The number of complaints I've heard, from all the people I work with at major software companies down to small local businesses, about not having a Metro version of Firefox: 0.

To be fair though...out of all the people I work with, from major software companies down to small local businesses, that actually uses Metro: 0.




RE: :p
By kmmatney on 12/13/2013 12:07:48 AM , Rating: 2
I've met people using metro on tablets, but on laptops and Desktops, the number of people I have ever met using Metro is zero as well.


RE: :p
By coburn_c on 12/13/2013 5:30:11 PM , Rating: 2
My laptop is a tablet convertible, as all laptops should be these days, and I even use Metro IE on it because it's p-d fast.

I also use the news and weather metro apps on my desktop because they're good apps. Granted nothing else in the Metro catalog can compete with a desktop app, their weather app is simple and extensive, all on one page. I'd have to wade through an entire website to get that kind of info otherwise. Same with their news app, excellent aggregation and a very appealing layout make it better than anything in desktop mode.


RE: :p
By inighthawki on 12/14/2013 3:43:19 AM , Rating: 2
You are mistakenly correlating the app's presentation of content with the presentation model itself. These are unrelated. The weather app and news app give the exact same results if they ran within a window, as opposed to fullscreen in metro. Except now I have the option of running it alongside other things I'm doing.

Some people also just prefer desktop mode. Metro works great on tablets or laptops in tablet mode, but if I'm using my laptop for productivity, metro IE is garbage. Absolute garbage. On my surface tablet, it's an excellent experience.


RE: :p
By majorpain on 12/13/2013 7:58:10 AM , Rating: 1
I know only 2 guys using Windows 8 even. Still using Win 7 at home and don't pretend to change so soon either.


RE: :p
By ICBM on 12/13/2013 12:09:10 PM , Rating: 2
Hmm, just the opposite from my perspective. Most of my friends were skeptical going to Win8, but after the fact, everyone agrees its better desktop experience, with the whole os just feeling more optimized.

As for metro on the desktop machines, yeah nobody here uses it. But I like the fact that I still have the SAME os on tablets and desktops/laptops. OS unification is a cool thing.

I am not dogging metro, I think its great for tablets, just not for a regular computer.


This further diminishes Chromebooks.
By troysavary on 12/13/2013 7:40:46 AM , Rating: 2
Why buy a ChromeOS device when a Windows machine will run everything a ChromeBook does, but not vice-versa?




By troysavary on 12/13/2013 7:42:15 AM , Rating: 2
Damn lack of edit. I mean the ability of Metro Chrome to run ChromeOS apps, not the release of Metro Firefox.


RE: This further diminishes Chromebooks.
By Reclaimer77 on 12/13/2013 7:39:55 PM , Rating: 2
Chrome OS was never intended to be compared to Windows, in fact Eric Shmidt called it an "anti-OS". Google had very specific goals for addressing user problems with traditional desktop systems and OS's with Chrome OS:

*The installation time of applications.
*The need to update the software.
*The need to save data.
*Viruses/malware.
*Compatibility with older hardware and software.

Is Chrome OS as versatile or "good" as Windows? Of course not, you're stating the obvious. It was never intended to.

Interestingly enough, your opening premise is flawed. Despite all logic and predictions by skeptics, Chrome OS is growing while the traditional Windows PC market is shrinking. Chrome OS is quietly taking over the sub $300 laptop market.

I don't know if we're in a "post PC era" or not. But I know there are tons of people out there with mobile devices who don't see a need for a traditional Windows PC anymore. For these people Chrome OS is almost perfect.


By EricMartello on 12/14/2013 3:00:12 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Interestingly enough, your opening premise is flawed. Despite all logic and predictions by skeptics, Chrome OS is growing while the traditional Windows PC market is shrinking. Chrome OS is quietly taking over the sub $300 laptop market.


Windows has limited its market segment by pricing itself into a specific range and setting the bar on the minimum level of hardware a PC would need to run the OS, but much like the price of a windows license and minimal hardware requirements limits the lowest price a Windows PC/laptop can be sold for, the inherent limitations of chromeOS prevent it from ever becoming a premiere desktop OS option.

ChromeOS fills a void that MS neglected, and people who wanted minimally capable computers that are essentially "thin clients" for google's 'cloud' software may switch over...but a lot of people realize that they not only get a very incompetent PC, they also give google full snooping privileges.

quote:
I don't know if we're in a "post PC era" or not. But I know there are tons of people out there with mobile devices who don't see a need for a traditional Windows PC anymore. For these people Chrome OS is almost perfect.


The utility of the PC will ensure there's always a level of demand for it from people who do any kind of work. It will also remain the best choice for gaming enthusiasts as well.

At worst, we'll see a slight rise in PC and PC component prices as demand softens...at least until the people buying the cheap crap realize how woefully inept their computers are and look for something more powerful. Remember the netbook fad from a few years ago?


RE: This further diminishes Chromebooks.
By troysavary on 12/15/2013 4:10:06 AM , Rating: 2
If you want to trust your data to "the cloud", be my guest. The cloud is fine as a backup, but who wants their only access to their data to be at the mercy of a third party. Or multiple third parties, since it depends not only on the cloud provider, but also the internet connection.

ChromeOS isn't growing as fast as you claim. It is still under even Windows RT for web browsing statistics. While those numbers are not always indicative of sales, for a device that can only browse the net, that statistic is pretty damning. Google will not provide any sales figures. We only have fluff like "20% of the sub $200 notebook market". How big is the sub $200 notebook market? I don't know, but I'd bet it is tiny. If they cannot dominate the niche they were specifically designed for, when their competitor is ignoring that niche, they are a flop.

I predict that the ChromeBook fad will die just like netbooks did. I also predict that the return rate of ChromeBooks will be very high as people who bought them not knowing the restrictions will not want them.


By Reclaimer77 on 12/15/2013 4:35:28 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
If you want to trust your data to "the cloud", be my guest.


Once more projecting things I never said onto me. I never said Chrome OS was great, or that I trust anything to the cloud. However since I use smartphones and tablets every day, I'm trusting a lot to "the cloud". And so is everyone else.

quote:
ChromeOS isn't growing as fast as you claim


Yes it is. It's growing exactly as fast as I'm claiming. Look it up, that's what I did.

quote:
for a device that can only browse the net


They can do a bit more than that. Google has even significantly increased Chrome OS's offline capabilities.

quote:
Google will not provide any sales figures.


?????

How exactly can Google do that? They aren't making Chromebooks, OEM's are.

quote:
We only have fluff like "20% of the sub $200 notebook market". How big is the sub $200 notebook market?


Of course it's tiny. But I'll remember you said this next time you defend Windows Phone's marketshare :)

quote:
I predict that the ChromeBook fad will die just like netbooks did.


Not a very risky prediction. It's easy to say that. Except you're kinda two years too late, because 2011 was the year everyone said Chromebooks had "flopped" and failed.

At this point, I'm not going to bet against Google. If the OEM's have a market for a cheap laptop without the Windows tax, Chrome OS will probably be around for some time in whatever limited fashion.


Whats the big deal? Metro is JUST a Start Menu
By GotThumbs on 12/13/2013 9:03:07 AM , Rating: 2
I've been running 8.1 for months and after installing the OS, the first and second thing I installed was Chrome and Mozilla.

It still dumbfounds me how many people are STILL clueless/angry about navigating 8.0 & 8.1.

Perhaps win8 was to-much/to-early for the general public (and some "Techs") to adapt to. I think it works very well with a tablet/touch screen and one can easily adapt to using the mouse for getting around. My brother and this two children have zero issues with Win8. His wife is not as quick to adapt.

In my office, we have two Gen I Surface Pros (4gigs of ram and 128GB SSD)running SQL Server and Toad for Oracle. No issues at all. I've now got a Gen II on order for myself (8 gigs/256 SSD).

Some people just need more time to transition. Maybe MS should have developed a better tutorial/video series. I think the OS is good, but the marketing on it was very poor. Too many in the media were too quick to judge IMO.

Some people, you have to walk through every step...others have an aptitude that they can figure it out on their own.

The loudest whiners against Win8....are in the first group IMO.

At the end of the day....pick and chose what you want, but don't bash an OS, simply because YOU don't get it as quickly.

~Best wishes on your CHOICE.

btw. Win8 has drive pooling (like WHS) so you could create your own WHS using Win8 and any number of drives you have laying around. Google WIN8 home server to see the possibilities.




RE: Whats the big deal? Metro is JUST a Start Menu
By Argon18 on 12/13/2013 11:31:26 AM , Rating: 2
Best wishes on your CHOICE.

Yep, it is a choice. And I choose not to use it. Mainly because it sucks and it's horrible. Sorry Microsoft, you'll have to do better than this, or customers will continue to walk away.


By ritualm on 12/14/2013 3:16:31 PM , Rating: 2
It's easy to say it sucks when you haven't used one to begin with. Just like netbooks. We all said they're horrible. How many of us actually bought and used one?

I had both.

Contrary to your oft-repeated assertions, unlike the netbooks of yesteryear, Surface Pro doesn't suck. But keep burying your head up your arse and pretend everyone agrees with you, son...


IE now has adblock support
By weilin on 12/12/2013 7:07:26 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
However, it lacks the cloud-synchronization and extendibility (including ad-blocking)


AdBlockPlus now supports IE. This is a relatively new development but IE has been supported for a few months now.




RE: IE now has adblock support
By althaz on 12/12/2013 8:43:13 PM , Rating: 2
Does it support IE11 metro? Because I wasn't able to get it to work (although I didn't spend long trying it).


Mozilla can keep the Metro Firefox
By Bateluer on 12/13/2013 6:49:54 PM , Rating: 2
When Chrome launched itself in Metro mode, it wasn't possible to hit the Esc key fast enough to get back to the usable UI.

2 years of development on a fundamentally broken UI, pitiful.




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