Mozilla is abandoning its plans to release a touch-friendly version of its Firefox web browser for Windows 8 users. The company first revealed experimental support for Firefox in "Metro" mode back in October of 2012, and development has continued since then — though a stable version has never shipped.
Firefox Vice President Johnathan Nightingale says in a blog post that "we have to pick our battles," and a lack of demand for "Metro" mode support led to the decision. "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 1,000 active daily users in the Metro environment," Nightingale reveals. With so few users testing the app, any release would be riddled with bugs and require lots of follow-up work to keep the product up to standards. "When I talk about the need to pick our battles, this feels like a bad one to pick: significant investment and low impact."
"We have to pick our battles."
The decision speaks to Microsoft's difficulties in turning its so-called Windows 8 Modern UI experience into a vibrant ecosystem. Developer support has been fairly disappointing, and users aren't moving to the touch-friendly interface in droves. User interface changes since the launch of Windows 8 have also downplayed the significance of "Metro" mode — the latest version will automatically boot many users directly to the desktop, bypassing the modern interface completely.
With Mozilla's move to leave "Metro" behind, it seems that Windows 8 tablet users and others who take advantage of the touch-friendly interface will have few options other than Internet Explorer, though Google recently began to offer an intriguing option with its latest "Metro" mode for Chrome.