Firefox adapts to Windows 8 touch-first interface

A very early build of Mozilla's browser now works on the new touch-centric Metro user interface of Windows 8. Oops, we're not supposed to say Metro anymore.

The Firefox Nightly browser lets you switch among tabs arranged across the top of the browser window.
The Firefox Nightly browser lets you switch among tabs arranged across the top of the browser window. Paul Rouget

Mozilla is catching its browser up to Windows 8.

The Firefox Nightly version -- the precursor to Aurora, beta, and final releases -- now supports the touch-oriented, no-menu interface of Windows 8 formerly known as Metro, according to a tweet from Mozilla about the development.

Mozilla developer Paul Rouget posted several screenshots of the Metro version of the early Firefox build.

The early build features a number of Metro features, including a no-menu-bar look that relies instead on actions triggered by swiping in from the edges of the screen. That includes the access to search engines, downloaded files, and tab selection.

The new browser is the result not just of programming work, but also of a lobbying campaign. To run with top performance, browsers today need access to low-level operating system interfaces, but third-party software was barred from using those interfaces unless running in the old-style "desktop" interface.

However, Microsoft eventually was persuaded to let browsers use the low-level interfaces on Windows 8. That's not the case with Windows RT, though, where only Microsoft's Internet Explorer has those privileges.

Activities in Firefox for Windows 8 such as managing bookmarks are built using the new Windows interface.
Activities in Firefox for Windows 8 such as managing bookmarks are built using the new Windows interface. Paul Rouget
Firefox Nightly's launch icon on the Windows 8 start page.
Firefox Nightly's launch icon on the Windows 8 start page. Paul Rouget
Looking for menu bars? So are a lot of other new Windows 8 users. Paul Rouget
About the author

Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and covers browsers, Web development, digital photography and new technology. In the past he has been CNET's beat reporter for Google, Yahoo, Linux, open-source software, servers and supercomputers. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces.

 

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