Mozilla Launches Metro Preview Release of Firefox

Mozilla has moved the touch-friendly version of Firefox out of the nightly channel and into the Aurora channel. The company is now asking Firefox users to take the updated browser for a spin and send in feedback. As before, in order to use the touchy side of Mozilla's browser, Windows 8 customers will need to set this version as the default so that Windows 8 doesn't send them straight to the desktop.

"This touch-friendly version of Firefox has been designed to ensure people get the best browsing experience on their Windows 8 tablet," the company said. "It has a tile-based Firefox Start experience and supports Firefox Sync, Windows 8 touch and swipe gestures, Snapped and Fill views, and Windows Share integration all delivered with a streamlined, modern and beautiful interface."

As stated several weeks ago by Mozilla, the goal of this "Metro Preview Release" is to gather feedback and defects from the larger Aurora community. Whether or not the Metro Preview Release will graduate from Aurora to Beta and Release channels is still to be determined, the company said. But if all goes well, the final release of Firefox 27 with the Modern UI version intact will be on January 21, 2014.

Originally the plan was to release the touchy version of Firefox to the Aurora channel on September 16, and market it as the Metro Preview Release. All Aurora features would then be merged into the Beta channel on October 28, thus making the Windows 8 touch-based version available to the Beta audience. After that, Firefox Metro was scheduled to be released on December 10. That has obviously changed, and could likely still as Mozilla receives feedback from the Aurora build.

"Because this new version of Firefox uses the same powerful Gecko rendering engine as in Firefox desktop, there’s also support for WebGL for compelling 3D graphics and asm.js which supercharges JavaScript in the browser, allowing developers to port high performance C++ games to the Web," the company said. "Hardware accelerated full HTML5 video is also supported, including open video formats like WebM and proprietary formats such as H.264."

Mozilla added that over the coming weeks, the company will be almost exclusively focused on improving performance and responsiveness. The company also points out that this is still a preview build, and while many of the features are nearly complete, expect some performance issues and bugs.

If for some reason Windows 8 refuses to set the aurora build as the default browser after the initial confirmation (meaning you're still kicked back to the desktop version), simple head into Firefox and load up the Options/Advanced/General panel to manually set it as the default program.

To try the new build of Firefox for the Windows 8 Start screen, head here.

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  • classzero
    Don't do it Mozilla, it's a trap! Stay away from the retro interface.
  • rwinches
    Wait you're working on a new touch version while the standard one still sucks?
    The pic's take forever to load and you can't do anything until they finish loading, maybe less noticeable at home but mobile it is useless.