updated 02:30 pm EDT, Sat March 22, 2014
Microsoft practices regarding default browsers the real issue
A former engineer for Mozilla points the blame for the company's recent decision to shelve the Metro version of the Firefox browser squarely at Microsoft -- rather than on poor adoption numbers initially laid out by the company. Rather, the true issue lies with Microsoft's browser rules, says Brian Bondy.
On Bondy's personal blog, he outlines the two reasons why he thinks that the usage of Firefox Metro was low. Both issues revolve around being able to set browsers as the default one to use within Windows 8.
The fact that Microsoft doesn't allow a browser to use the touch-based UI unless it is set as the default presents a problem for adopters, according to Bondy. He says that "several people could have had a Modern [neé Metro] UI-capable Firefox pre-release installed, but just never knew it."
Perhaps the greater issue, from Bondy's viewpoint, is that Windows 8 makes it much harder to set a browser as the default one to use. Where previous versions of Windows would prompt users to set a default often when a browser was opened, Windows 8 adds confusing steps to the process. Default browsers must be set to access different types of web action often through a handful of prompts and options, changed in the control panel.
Mozilla has documented its struggles with Microsoft in the past as it attempted to design a Firefox version to work with the touch-based UI design of Windows 8. The company even went as far as to call out Microsoft before finding a way to work with the Metro UI, but still was unable to gain access for Windows RT development.
Even though Bondy felt the need to point out that Microsoft was the greater reason for the cancellation of the project, he still says that the decision to end Firefox Metro was the correct one to make for the company. Bondy formerly worked on the Metro project, but has since moved on to a position with Kahn Academy.