Mozilla is finally preparing to launch a version of the Firefox web browser designed to run in the Windows 8 full-screen “Modern” or “Metro” user interface.
While Mozilla’s been working on the software for well over a year, it won’t launch until more than a year after Windows 8 hit the streets. In fact, the new version of Firefox won’t be available until several months after Windows 8.1 launches.
The first version of Firefox 26 with a Metro user interface is scheduled to launch on December 10th.
Update: Make that January.
With the launch of Windows 8 and Windows RT, Microsoft introduced a new user interface designed to play well on tablets and other computers with touch-screen displays. There’s an emphasis on apps that run in full-screen windows, although they can also be resized to make room for several apps to run side-by-side.
Since then, many PC makers have slapped touchscreens on laptop and desktop computers and produced a number of Windows tablets. While iPads and Android tablets still dominate the touchscreen space, Microsoft is betting that touch is an important part of its future.
So it’s kind of interesting that Mozilla, which has been spending a lot of time porting Firefox to run on Android, and also to develop its own Firefox OS for smartphones, seems to be taking its time developing a touch-friendly version of its web browser for Windows.
A Metro version of Internet Explorer ships with Windows 8, and Google Chrome has offered a Metro version for almost as long as Windows 8 has been available.
There will likely never be a version of Firefox that can run on Windows RT devices. That’s Microsoft’s version of Windows 8 designed to run on tablets and other devices with ARM-based processors. Microsoft limits access to desktop mode and other key APIs in Windows RT, which means that Firefox, Chrome, and other key software available for Windows 8 won’t be developed for Windows RT devices such as the Microsoft Surface RT.