Windows RT won't offer browser choice, claims Mozilla

Windows RT -- Microsoft's operating system for tablets -- won't allow you to switch from the default Internet Explorer, Mozilla claims.

Windows RT is on its way to tablets soon, but unlike previous versions of Windows, it's not going to make it easy for you to use a browser other than the standard Internet Explorer. At least, not according to Mozilla.

Windows RT is the version of Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8 operating system that is designed to work on tablets . It's apparently going to come in two forms: the colourful new Metro style interface we've been checking out and a more classic option. Mozilla claims though that the classic option will not allow users to change away from the default Internet Explorer Web browser, unlike the Metro style and indeed most previous versions of Windows.

Usually, Windows allows you to change the browser away from IE to something a bit nicer like Firefox or Chrome, thanks to a ruling by the Department of Justice that ruled that Microsoft had to allow for such a choice -- a ruling that ran out last year, The Verge reports.

Microsoft reportedly believes that only IE will be able to properly run in Windows Classic, however Mozilla general counsel Harvey Anderson argues that there is no technical reason why other browsers cannot also run, given that they can run in the Metro environment.

Anderson told our buddies at CNET.com that Microsoft Deputy General Counsel David Heiner explained to him "The chips [in mobile devices] have new requirements for security and power management, and Microsoft is the only one who can meet those needs." This didn't sit well with Anderson, who stated "I'm not aware that Microsoft is the exclusive and sole proprietor of technology capable of working in the ARM environment."

On his blog, Anderson comments "Windows on ARM -- as currently designed -- restricts user choice, reduces competition and chills innovation." It's certainly true that Microsoft's stranglehold on browser choice in the 90s was something of a headache for web developers, and contributed to the collapse of rival Netscape.

Microsoft is yet to officially comment on its position or indeed its long term plans with IE on ARM. It's likely that we'll find out a lot more in the run up to the launch later this year. In the meantime, Anderson explained that he hopes Microsoft will resolve the issue by itself, stating "sometimes they need some pressure... If it turns out to be legal pressure, that could be the thing."

What do you make of Microsoft's plan? Is it right for it to restrict software in this way? Would you be happy using only Internet Explorer? Let me know in the comments below or over on our Facebook page.

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About the author

Andrew is a senior editor at CNET and has always been fascinated by tech. When not getting up close and personal with the latest phones, he can normally be found with his camera in hand, behind his drums or eating his stash of home-cooked food. Sometimes all at once.

 

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