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Mozilla Attacks Microsoft Browser Strategy on ARM

By - Source: Mozilla | B 32 comments

Uh oh. Déjà vu. Microsoft locks out competing browsers from Windows RT.

Mozilla says that Microsoft will only allow IE to run in Windows RT, the version of Windows that will run on ARM computers. The scenario is reminiscent to a time when Microsoft tightly integrated IE into Windows 95/98, which eventually led to an antitrust lawsuit against the company that almost resulted in the breakup of the company.

Only the "Classic" environment of Windows RT is apparently affected, but Mozilla cries foul and says that Windows on ARM, "as currently designed", does not allow user choice, "reduces competition and chills innovation." Mozilla's General Counsel Harvey Anderson noted in a blog post:

"Windows on ARM prohibits any browser except for Internet Explorer from running in the privileged Windows Classic environment. In practice, this means that only Internet Explorer will be able to perform many of the advanced computing functions vital to modern browsers in terms of speed, stability, and security to which users have grown accustomed. Given that IE can run in Windows on ARM, there is no technical reason to conclude other browsers can’t do the same."

Windows RT Classic is believed to be a heavily restricted mode, in which only Microsoft code can be executed. Given the target market of Windows RT and especially entry-level notebooks that may not include touch screen support that can run the Metro interface, software vendors such as Mozilla may, in fact, be locked out of a substantial market. Firefox product manager Asa Dotzler explained that a Metro browser "does not have the APIs necessary to compete with IE or any other modern browser. On x86, Microsoft has given browser vendors the same privileges and APIs that IE uses. They have not done this on ARM."

Mozilla's only opportunity to offer Firefox is as a Metro app in a sandbox and cannot access Win32 APIs. Only Microsoft will be able to access both Metro and Classic features on ARM, Mozilla said. As the entry-level notebook market is shifting, this could turn into a tremendous problem for Mozilla, especially if Google is gaining traction with Chrome OS and locks out Mozilla from running Firefox on top of Chrome as well.

Anderson said that Mozilla encourages "Microsoft to remain firm on its user choice principles. Excluding 3rd party browsers contradicts Microsoft’s own published principles that users and developers have relied upon for years. These principles represented a Microsoft market approach that was both notable and went above and beyond their DOJ antitrust settlement obligations."

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  • 25 Hide
    damianrobertjones , May 11, 2012 12:47 PM
    So... what browsers can you use on the iPad?
  • 5 Hide
    damianrobertjones , May 11, 2012 12:49 PM
    "Mozilla's only opportunity to offer Firefox is as a Metro app in a sandbox and cannot access Win32 APIs."

    Well... all i can say is, "It's about bloody time that something like this happened!" I'm sick to death of companies making software that doesn't follow the rules or leaves behind services after you un-install (I'm looking at YOU Chrome!).

    Either way Firefox will still probably be available in a safe format and I've zero issue with this.

    However... stuff like this makes for great articles that create spin
  • 5 Hide
    Hatecrime69 , May 11, 2012 12:53 PM
    stephenkendrickAnyone who actually buys into Windows 8 is unlikely to have an awareness of alternative browsers, let alone a will or even the ability to download and install one, whether on ARM or Intel. I wouldn't lose sleep over it, Mozilla...

    it's not the point that the user is too dumb not to use ie, it's the fact there will be no choice at all, they have a very good reason to be worried
  • -1 Hide
    damianrobertjones , May 11, 2012 1:02 PM
    They will have choice.... Firefox will be available like ANY OTHER app via the metro interface. They must play by the rules and Windows RT is NOT WIndows 8... what does Mozilla expect?
  • 9 Hide
    AMD X6850 , May 11, 2012 1:06 PM
    Tom's seems to have left out that Google is also "attacking" Microsoft's browser strategy.

    "Extent of ban is unclear, but Google and Mozilla are outraged, say Microsoft is promoting a monopoly"
  • 4 Hide
    Miharu , May 11, 2012 1:09 PM
    I don't agree on the point "user having choice".
    It's merly based on the point that you have an OS "allow competition" or "it's closed system".

    Apple introduced an "closed system" and didn't be beat to the death by lawsuit.
    He also block application doing the same thing that his OS do.
    Basicly any applications can be block because Apple decide to add a similar feature to his OS new version.
    (It's why I hate so much Apple, that doesn't make sense to me.)

    So did Microsoft can make a step behind and "closed a little bit more his OS" ? Surely.
    DOJ can't do nothing in that, DOJ have to completely destroy the Apple model before doing something with this.

    It's just bad that Mozilla get cut because Apple closed system and succes.
  • 7 Hide
    Anonymous , May 11, 2012 1:20 PM
    I just run Linux. In a world without boundaries, who needs windows and gates.... Or walled i-Gardens :-D
  • 0 Hide
    Avro Arrow , May 11, 2012 1:28 PM
    Quite frankly, I think this is a bad situation. I don't think that this specific instance is all that big of a deal but I think that it's the beginning of a very slippery slope. If MS is allowed to do this, they'll undoubtedly use it as a pretext to cripple non-MS software even more. Remember that Europe didn't even allow Microsoft to include Internet Explorer with Windows. Personally, I think that Internet Exploder is a piece of software trash that is completely outclassed by Firefox. I agree that I don't like Chrome because it just isn't as versatile as Firefox and I like the idea that Firefox is open-source. Firefox has been my browser of choice since I first tried it 5 years ago. I tried Chrome but didn't like it as much. Microsoft blocking Firefox from anything would really impact my use of the internet as well as all other people who prefer Firefox.
  • -4 Hide
    cknobman , May 11, 2012 1:30 PM
    Dont b!tch about Apple just Microsoft.

    I stopped using Firefox anyways as its over-hyped by the vocal minority on tech sites. In fact Firefox for Android (while I tried to use it) was a disaster and worked like sh!t.
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , May 11, 2012 1:38 PM
    "On x86, Microsoft has given browser vendors the same privileges and APIs that IE uses. They have not done this on ARM."

    Is it just me, or this an example of why Microsoft won't really be able to gain traction in the tablet market? When they first announced the versions, I looked at a comparison sheet between all of them and noticed one major thing, the ARM (tablet) version of Windows won't support the x86 (PC) version and vice versa. This makes sense. For example, nobody expects software written for an iPad to work on a Mac or a PC.

    The difference here though, is that Microsoft is advertising it as a full blown OS will all the capabilities you'd expect from the PC version. But if they don't allow access to the same APIs, users might get really frustrated and won't understand why an app that works on their PC won't work on their tablet which is supposed to be the same.

    Perhaps I'm wrong. Maybe Intel will release chips that gain traction in the tablet world, making this a non-issue. I'm guessing though, that once again, Microsoft is failing in their training/marketing department, regardless of how good or bad Windows 8 really is.
  • -6 Hide
    eddieroolz , May 11, 2012 1:44 PM
    Sounds like Mozilla is beginning to feel some pressure. Firefox is losing usage share. It's becoming bloated and heavy. I wouldn't want it slowing down Windows RT.
  • -1 Hide
    Marco925 , May 11, 2012 1:55 PM
    damianrobertjonesSo... what browsers can you use on the iPad?

    Though Android allows it.
  • 3 Hide
    bourgeoisdude , May 11, 2012 2:07 PM
    Marco925Though Android allows it.

    Not on their Chromebooks.
  • -2 Hide
    classzero , May 11, 2012 2:53 PM
    damianrobertjonesSo... what browsers can you use on the iPad?

    I use opera, but nice try!
  • -3 Hide
    classzero , May 11, 2012 2:56 PM
    MiharuApple introduced an "closed system" and didn't be beat to the death by lawsuit.

    Funny I use opera browser, your claim is not valid! I can also use firefox, chrome, opera, on OS X. Again your . . . um . . . false, wrong, not informed, wishful thinking.
  • -2 Hide
    classzero , May 11, 2012 2:57 PM
    Marco925Though Android allows it.

    So doed the iPad, great trolling though!
  • -5 Hide
    classzero , May 11, 2012 2:57 PM
    classzeroSo does the iPad, great trolling though!

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