Mozilla Planning Windows 8 Metro UI Version of Firefox

Microsoft Windows 8 will be the next version of Windows operating system. For the first time with Windows 8, Microsoft wants to offer desktop, laptop, netbook, tablet, server, and media center PC users the same unified experience. It’s not a secret anymore that Microsoft Windows 8 will come with two different interface. One is the classic desktop user interface which regular Windows users are using now and the new Metro user interface optimized for tablets and touch-based devices. Mozilla now seems don’t want to left out of all the Metro fun.

Mozilla has revealed this week about their plans to create a Metro style version of Firefox specially for Windows 8. The browser will be based on the open source Gecko engine. It will take full advantage of screen touch enhancements, alongside support for the Awesomebar, tabs, and common navigation controls. Mozilla has published two new Wiki pages detailing their plans.

Mozilla has not revealed too much details yet but what is available makes an interesting to go through. Here are a few interesting points from the wiki.

  • The feature goal here is a new Gecko based browser built for and integrated with the Metro environment.
  • Firefox on Metro, like all other Metro apps will be full screen, focused on touch interactions, and connected to the rest of the Metro environment through Windows 8 contracts.
  • Firefox on Metro will bring all the Gecko capabilities to this new environment and the assumption is that the app will be able to run as a Medium integrity app so it can get access to all the Win32 Firefox Gecko libraries avoiding a port to the new WinRT API for the bulk of their code.
  • Mozilla need to decide if the Firefox front end on Metro will be built in XUL, C/C++, or HTML/CSS/JS.
  • Firefox on Metro is a full-screen App with an Appbar that will have common navigation controls (back, reload, etc.,) the Awesomebar, and some form of tabs.
  • Firefox will have to support three “snap” states — full screen, ~1/6th screen and ~5/6th screen depending on how the user “docks” two full screen apps.

Microsoft has already bundled a special version of Internet Explorer 10 in Windows 8 Developer Preview, designed for the Metro UI, but it will not support browser plugins like Adobe’s Flash player. Mozilla hopes to have a proof of concept ready for the second quarter of 2012. Users can expect an alpha and beta release by Mozilla in the second half of 2012.

What do you think about Mozilla’s new challenge of getting Firefox tamed for the Metro UI? Should they concentrate only in improving the classic UI only?