Mozilla's plan to launch a Metro-style version of Firefox for Windows 8 was dealt a major blow this week after it was revealed that Microsoft will restrict third-party browsers from accessing certain APIs on its ARM devices running on Windows RT. According to Mr. Asa Dotzler; community coordinator for several Mozilla projects and product director for the Firefox desktop browser, highlighted this unfortunate predicament in his blog entry.
In a nutshell, he wrote that there are three forms of programs on x86 Windows. First, there are classic programs that access the win32 API that Windows 7 applications use. The second category of programs are limited (think sandboxed applications) to the Metro environment, and the last category of applications are the Metro style desktop-enabled programs which have access to the cool new features of Metro but also to the underlying win32 API that (the first category) classic desktop applications use.
Dotzler said that Microsoft has decided to deny third party applications on Windows RT, the privileges of the third category of programs on x86 Windows. Such a move will effectively limit these applications to the second category, forcing them to operate in the sandboxed Metro environment. For the consumers, this means there are no alternative Web browsers to Microsoft's Internet Explorer on ARM devices running Windows RT.
He pointed out the promise the company made to developers, users, and OEMs about browser choice after its US anti-trust ruling expired. It seems that with its current decision of the Redmond company goes against its commitment that stated "...committed to designing and licensing Windows (and all the parts of the Windows platform) on terms that create and preserve opportunities for applications developers and Web site creators to build innovative products on the Windows platform — including products that directly compete with Microsoft’s own products.".
Jumping into this fray is Google who issued a statement to CNET where it expressed its solidarity with “the concerns Mozilla has raised regarding the Windows 8 environment restricting user choice and innovation.” It is not certain at this juncture if either company will be considering legal actions against Microsoft; hence, do watch this space for future updates.