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Mozilla ships Metro Firefox beta for Windows 8

Gregg Keizer | Feb. 10, 2014
Mozilla yesterday launched a beta version of its touch-enabled Firefox browser for Windows 8 and 8.1, fulfilling a promise to put the application on the road to a final release next month.

Because Mozilla followed Microsoft's rules, or tried to, its developers cast their Metro app as, if not better than Chrome on the UI, at least not competing head-to-head against Google's work.

"Essentially Chrome does not have a Metro-style browser, and are instead using the immersive environment for a completely different purpose," said Matt Brubeck, the lead engineer on the Firefox Metro front-end team, in a January message on a Mozilla discussion thread. "They are not even using the Metro edge gestures or charms for any useful purpose. This is interesting to us because Chrome is now clearly not a direct competitor to Firefox for Metro — they don't offer what we offer, nor vice-versa."

Ironically, just about the time Mozilla ships Firefox for Windows 8 Touch, Microsoft will be well on its way to releasing a second round of changes to the OS that deemphasizes the touch UI and reinstates several more features that it yanked from the desktop mode.

Microsoft is expected to deliver Windows 8.1 Update 1, a set of tweaks for the refresh of Windows 8, on April 8.

Mozilla called out some of the features in Firefox for Windows 8 Touch in a blog post yesterday.

Also this week, Mozilla shipped the Release version of Firefox 27 for the desktop, patching 15 security vulnerabilities, a third of them rated "critical," the company's most serious threat ranking.

Firefox 27 added integration support for another pair of services — Delicious and Saavin, the latter a popular music streaming service in India — as it continues a push to separate it from rivals like Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE), Google's Chrome and Apple's Safari. The browser also switched on default support for TLS 1.1 and TLS 1.2 (Transport Layer Security), the successors to the SSL (Secure Socket Layer) encryption protocol, and added support for the latest edition of SPDY (pronounced speedy), the Google-designed latency-reducing standard that all major browsers except Safari now incorporate.

Windows, Mac and Linux editions of Firefox 27 can be downloaded from Mozilla's site; already installed copies will upgrade automatically. Users of Firefox for Android can retrieve the update from the Google Play store. The latter sports support for several additional languages, including Lithuanian, Slovenian and Thai; enables TLS 1.1 and 1.2 by default; and boasts navigation and user experience (UX) improvements.

Firefox 28 Beta, which on Windows 8 and 8.1 includes Firefox for Windows 8 Touch, can also be downloaded from Mozilla's website.

The next version of Firefox is scheduled to ship March. 18. The version after that — Firefox 29 is slated to show up April 29 — may debut the new Australis UI that Mozilla has been working on since May 2012.


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