Mozilla Developing Firefox Browser for Windows 8 Metro
Mozilla, the company behind the popular Firefox web browser, has outlined its plans to develop a Windows 8 Metro-style browser for the impending Windows 8 tablet phenomena. Can ISVs in the channel get ideas for developing Windows 8 Metro apps based on Mozilla’s initial development progress?
Mozilla has outlined its preliminary goals for a Windows 8 Metro Firefox and, frankly, they’re quite simple. “The feature goal here is a new Gecko-based browser built for and integrated with the Metro environment,” according to Mozilla, and, like Metro apps before it, the application will run full-screen natively and have touch capabilities.
But Mozilla’s development of Gecko on Windows 8 hasn’t actually begun — yet. Mozilla’s open source development process requires a few careful steps to ensure Mozilla is both compliant to open source technology and meets Windows 8 Metro guidelines. For example, Mozilla is currently focusing on:
- Developing the front end — HTML, C++ and XUL are all on the table. Mozilla likely will avoid using .NET and XAML. However, it will try to “borrow” as much as it can from win32 libraries to avoid recoding the entire browser.
- Building intuitive touch controls that incorporate common web browsing activities and tabs.
- Supporting Windows 8 Metro multiple “snap” states, so users can dock and run applications side by side.
- Connecting to Microsoft’s underlying Metro app system for sharing content and information across other Metro apps.
- Supporting application suspension by Windows 8 while the app is not being used, and meeting security requirements for sandboxed applications.
- Long term, introducing web-based apps that live inside the Metro interface built on Firefox for Windows 8.
What can we learn by looking at Mozilla from afar? It seems as though Windows 8 Metro development shouldn’t be too difficult, since Mozilla is leveraging some existing code and libraries, but pinning down an intuitive and friendly Windows 8 experience may be involved. Remember, Microsoft is set to unveil the Windows 8 Consumer Preview at Mobile World Congress, so developers potentially have an opportunity to see a more focused picture of what a Windows 8 mobile experience should be like. I have a feeling that when developers get their hands dirty building Metro apps, the “style” should catch on quickly, much like iOS developers eventually fell into a groove understanding Apple’s GUI guidelines and style.