Mozilla’s new Firefox browser for Windows 8 tablets isn’t expected to be ready for the masses until January. But you can now try out a pre-release version by downloading Firefox Aurora and setting it as your default web browser on a Windows 8 device.

If it’s not your default, you’ll only be able to use the old-fashioned desktop version of Firefox. But when it’s your default browser you can also use the new full-screen, touch-friendly user interface that’ll be available to all early next year.

Firefox for Windows 8

The new browser users the same Gecko rendering engine as all other versions of Firefox, which means it should be able to handle any website that opens in desktop view or on a mobile phone. It also supports WebGL graphics, HTML5, and all the other goodies that come with a modern web browser.

What’s new is the use interface which is designed for tablets and touchscreens. The URL bar and menus only appear when you need them, letting you view web pages in full screen.

ff win8_02

You can swipe down from the top of the screen to see icons for browser tabs that are currently open, or to open a new one. The URL bar hangs out at the bottom of the screen in this view. You can also open a new tab by hitting a + arrow on the right side of the screen, or go back to the previous page by tapping the arrow button on the left.

The new tab page features icons for your most visited websites, bookmarks, and recent history.

ff win8_03

Overall, Firefox for Windows 8 tablets looks a lot like Firefox for Android — but it uses the same kind of tab preview interface as Internet Explorer for Windows 8 and Windows RT.

Firefox Aurora releases are preview builds of Firefox, which means they may still have bugs or performance issues. The version released September 21st felt a bit sluggish at times, and scrolling is anything but smooth. But it provides a look at things to come from Mozilla.

via Mozilla

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4 replies on “Mozilla launches preview of Firefox for Windows 8 tablets”

  1. You know, IE for Metro works about like this, and I keep hoping someone does the tab situation a little better on a touch enabled browser. I like to open groups of tabs from my bookmarks, and it’s still far far easier to do this on desktop FF and Chrome.

    Windows 8 is still predominantly a desktop UI for me. But having a touch screen is actually great. Frankly I just don’t see the need for a radically different UI and having a completely separate Metro v. of the browser. I just wish they could overlay really good touch functions on the desktop version. Like make the close tab and new tab buttons about twice as big (they are tiny now). Autohide all the menu bars and make their UI elements larger. Universal pinch to zoom smoothly like on a tablet browser, and universal touch scrolling. Done.

    Basically, have an optional touch enabled UI available on the desktop version. That would also eliminate the hassle of switching between metro and desktop versions and having to set FF as your default browser. That’s a messy kludge with IE and no less so with FF.

  2. Are the Modern and desktop versions synced? For example, bookmarks, history, cookies, preferences, add-ons, etc.

      1. Thanks!

        Since it’s the same backend, in terms of rendering and other web terms, are the two equivalent? For example, would your banking site function as well as on the desktop version?

        I know the Android Firefox version has issues with forms, font sizes and other things. It makes me not want to use it for any site that requires logging in for fear of something breaking (ie. accidently sending a delete my stuff request due to issues with form processing).

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