Mozilla cancels touch enabled Firefox browser for Windows 8

(Photo: Mozilla / Paul Rouget)Mozilla Firefox Metro UI version, here seen as the Nightly version on the Windows 8.1 start screen.

Citing weak user demand for Windows 8, Mozilla on March 15 hastily canceled the release of Firefox for Windows 8 Touch that was to have taken place March 18. The touch-enabled Firefox browser was to have been used for the Metro user interface on Windows 8. 

Firefox for Windows 8 Touch was to have been a touch-friendly, tile-based Firefox optimized for Microsoft's Windows 8 Modern UI. It features a new tile-based Firefox start screen with one-tap access to Top Sites, Bookmarks and History. Firefox for Windows 8 Touch supports touch and swipe gestures such as pinch to zoom and one-touch swipe transitions.

Mozilla blamed Windows 8 and its Metro mode for its decision. Johnathan Nightingale, vice president of Firefox, said Firefox has "never seen more than 1,000 active daily users in the Metro environment."

(Photo: Mozilla)

He noted that Mozilla has been watching Metro's adoption but from what it's seen, this has been "pretty flat" despite millions of people testing pre-release versions of the Firefox desktop.

Nightingale said these weak numbers aren't been enough to properly test Firefox on Metro.

"That's going to mean lots of bugs discovered in the field, requiring a lot of follow-up engineering, design, and QA effort. To ship it without doing that follow-up work is not an option," Nightingale noted.

Shelving Firefox on Metro ended two years of work by Mozilla that began in March 2012. Mozilla initially said the Firefox app might be released as early as January 2013 but subsequent decisions led to the March 18 release date. Analysts see Mozilla's move as a vote of no confidence in Windows 8.

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