Mozilla has decided that there is no demand and no point in building a browser for Microsoft's Modern Design approach, formerly known as Metro.
The Metro interface is a key new component that Microsoft introduced to the desktop world when Windows 8 first hit the market in 2012. Metro offers the promise of a more tactile touch-friendly interface for Windows and it also requires that software vendors build Metro versions of their products. Among the many vendors that started to build Microsoft Metro applications in 2012 was Mozilla, though it's an effort that never really matured.
In a blog post, Johnathan Nightingale VP of Firefox at Mozilla, wrote that Metro app adoption from his perspective has been flat.
"On any given day we have, for instance, millions of people are testing pre-release versions of Firefox desktop, but we’ve never seen more than 1,000 active daily users in the Metro environment," Nightingale stated.
Rather than continue to spend time and resources in building out the Firefox for Metro browser, Nightingale decided that it made more sense at this point to pull the plug.
"The team is solid and did good work, but shipping a 1.0 version, given the broader context we see for the Metro platform, would be a mistake," Nightingale said. "This opens up the risk that Metro might take off tomorrow and we’d have to scramble to catch back up, but that’s a better risk for us to take than the real costs of investment in a platform our users have shown little sign of adopting."
Though Mozilla is giving up on Metro, it isn't giving up on Windows. The non-Metro version of Firefox still works in Windows 8 environments and as such Firefox is still a viable option for those users. Additionally as an open-source project, the Firefox for Metro code is publicly and freely available.
The decision to kill Firefox for Metro comes at a particularly busy time for Mozilla developers. This week, Mozilla is planning on releasing Firefox 28, which was originally supposed to be the debut for the Metro version as well. Among the big items that are likely to be included in Firefox 28 are fixes for the four zero-day security flaws that were exposed in the Pwn2own hacking contest last week.
Mozilla is also expected to debut a beta release of Firefox 29 this week, which will include the highly-anticipated Australis interface. Australis represents the biggest change to the Firefox user interface in years, providing new customization options and a new layout for users.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Datamation and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist
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