Don’t hold your breath for a tablet-ready Windows 8 Firefox app.
Firefox-maker Mozilla announced yesterday that it’s ending work on the “Metro” version of its browser (the former name Microsoft used for its Windows 8 tablet interface) — mainly, because nobody seems to be interested.
“In the months since, as the team built and tested and refined the product, we’ve been watching Metro’s adoption,” wrote Firefox VP Johnathan Nightingale in a blog post yesterday. “From what we can see, it’s pretty flat. On any given day we have, for instance, millions of people testing pre-release versions of Firefox desktop, but we’ve never seen more than 1000 active daily users in the Metro environment.”
To be clear, you can still run Firefox in the traditional desktop environment in Windows 8. Mozilla is simply killing the touchscreen version of its browser for the Windows 8 app store.
The announcement is a major blow to Microsoft’s vision for Windows 8, which desperately needs killer software in its app store — or at the very least, apps that take advantage of Windows 8’s touchscreen focus. Google, for example, has a Windows 8 mode in its Chrome browser, which makes it function like a full-screen Windows 8 app.
While Mozilla could have released an untested version of its Firefox Metro app, Nightingale points out that’s not how the company rolls. “If we release a product, we maintain it through end of life,” he wrote. “When I talk about the need to pick our battles, this feels like a bad one to pick: significant investment and low impact.”
For now, Mozilla will keep the Metro code on ice, just in case there’s a massive demand for a purely Windows 8 version of Firefox. Judging from what I’m seeing so far, though, that will take a while.