Former Firefox for Windows 8 developer: Low test numbers doesn't mean OS is in trouble

Last week, Mozilla decided to put development of its Firefox web browser made specifically for the Modern user interface in Windows 8 on hold indefinitely. Now a former member of the browser's development team is defending that decision while at the same time saying that it does not mean Windows 8 itself is in trouble.

In his blog post on Friday, Johnathan Nightingale, the vice-president of Mozilla's Firefox team, said that there were just 1000 active daily testers for the beta build of Firefox for Windows 8. He felt that low of a number was not enough to find the amount of bugs that could be encountered by the larger Firefox community if Mozilla released the browser as part of Firefox 28.

In a new blog post today, former Mozilla team member Brian R. Bondy, who worked on the Firefox for Windows 8 team, wrote that just because the browser had a low amount of beta testers doesn't mean that Windows 8 and the Modern UI have low general usage. He believes that one of the reasons why there were so few testers is that Windows 8 does not allow any third party browser to run on the OS unless it is set as the default. He states, "Several people could have had a Modern UI capable Firefox pre-releases installed, but just never knew it."

The other reason is that Windows 8 also makes it harder to set one browser as the default compared to older versions of the OS. Bondy states:

Before Windows 8, each browser could prompt you, and then they could set your default for you. As of Windows 8 you need to ask first, then tell Microsoft to show a prompt that shows a list of browsers (confusing). And that only sets the HTTP default. If you want all defaults, such as HTML and HTTP, then you have to send the user to control panel, make them search for the browser, then make them select your browser and set all defaults.

While Bondy believes Microsoft should make the default browser settings in Windows 8 less confusing, he does support their direction with the Modern UI as a whole, stating, "I do believe that touch hardware is something people are adopting and will adopt more."

Following Friday's blog post by Nightingale, Neowin attempted to contact Mozilla to see if we could get more information about their decision to cancel development of Firefox for Windows 8. Unfortunately, a spokesperson for the company declined to answer most of our questions, stating only, "We have no plans to start development again at this time. We always watch the desktop and mobile markets to find opportunities to advance Mozilla's mission."

Source: Brian R. Bondy | Image via Mozilla

Neowin Live - This event has concluded

04:32 John Callaham Welcome to this Neowin.net live event. Coverage will begin shortly.
Report a problem with article
Previous Story

New Skype update for Android helps battery life by turning off notifications in group chats

Next Story

Microsoft's stock surges up to 14 year high thanks to Office on iPad rumors

62 Comments

View more comments

The_Decryptor said,
So nobody wanting to use a metro browser is Mozilla's fault?

They have millions of people using the desktop release.

They half-*ssed it from the start.

It is their fault, Mozilla are spending more human capital fail projects like Firefox OS and other nonsense instead of reworking their decade old Gecko garbage. It's one of the reason why it took them ages to go from FF3.x to FF4. But Gecko is still a piece of crap of an ancient renderer that couldn't keep up with the modern web.

They are working on new core called Servo, but as expect because they are Mozilla afterall, it won't be out in the next couple of years. By that time, the world will probably move on and Servo will just be starting from v1.0. I'm glad they stop metro Firefox before embarrassing themselves with such horrible pile of bloated codes. Just look at Firefox on Android, that piece of horrible garbage should just be burned with fire.

The_Decryptor said,
So nobody wanting to use a metro browser is Mozilla's fault?

Nobody who wants a metro browser wants Firefox. In the metro environment, it's hard to beat IE11.

rfirth said,

Nobody who wants a metro browser wants Firefox. In the metro environment, it's hard to beat IE11.

Even on the desktop, it's hard to beat IE11. It's fast, smooth, and completely stable. Everything Firefox seems not to be anymore.

Dot Matrix said,

Even on the desktop, it's hard to beat IE11. It's fast, smooth, and completely stable. Everything Firefox seems not to be anymore.

The most important thing we need is choice. IE doesn't fit my needs in any manner, but that isn't the same for everyone. It would be a major loss for us to lose that choice and so far Windows 8 (in Metro) lacks any real choice. Nobody but Microsoft has built a browser in this space (some due to restrictions and some due to the earliness of this all).

Hopefully Mozilla and Google can eventually bring additional choice to this space.

cetla said,
It is their fault, Mozilla are spending more human capital fail projects like Firefox OS and other nonsense instead of reworking their decade old Gecko garbage. It's one of the reason why it took them ages to go from FF3.x to FF4. But Gecko is still a piece of crap of an ancient renderer that couldn't keep up with the modern web.

They are working on new core called Servo, but as expect because they are Mozilla afterall, it won't be out in the next couple of years. By that time, the world will probably move on and Servo will just be starting from v1.0. I'm glad they stop metro Firefox before embarrassing themselves with such horrible pile of bloated codes. Just look at Firefox on Android, that piece of horrible garbage should just be burned with fire.

You are entitled to your opinion of Mozilla, but for a non-profit organization, they've done some great things through the years.

Interesting, I find the FF browser on android is useful - it's the only one that plays embedded videos fairly flawlessly. Chrome plays them either horribly choppy, extremely out of sync with audio or they just don't work. In fact I'd say overall its a bit better than Chrome on Android.

It lacks text wrapping and entering text into forms/fields/forums is horrible though, so I tend to stick with Opera Mobile.

They also said that they will not develop a 64-bit browser for Windows due to *insert excuse here*

Note that Firefox has issues rendering its own interface at 60 frame per second on Windows.

Which leads me to speculate that all professional developers work elsewhere.

"Former Firefox for Windows 8 developer: Low test numbers doesn't mean OS is in trouble"

yes. 16 months after its launch. i'm suuuuuurrre that's the case. nothing unusual. especially for windows platform's history.

i'm also pretty sure all former employees are expert of what they are no longer associated with.

Albert said,
"Former Firefox for Windows 8 developer: Low test numbers doesn't mean OS is in trouble"

yes. 16 months after its launch. i'm suuuurrre that's the case.

i'm also pretty sure all former employees are expert of what they are no longer associated with.

Indeed, if I remember correctly it took 8.X at least 12 months just to reach the adoption rate of Vista.
Truly embarrassing for microsoft.

Shadowzz said,
Yeah its totally embarrassing that Microsoft has to compete with their own products.

In general terms, and regardless if you are the dominant player in your market or not, you definitely compete with yourself, and again this is true regardless of what you sell.

Cosmocronos said,

In general terms, and regardless if you are the dominant player in your market or not, you definitely compete with yourself, and again this is true regardless of what you sell.


True, but usually your biggest rival and competition is not one of your other (previous) products

Shadowzz said,

True, but usually your biggest rival and competition is not one of your other (previous) products <img src="/forum/style_emoticons/default/tongue.png" alt="" />

When you have 90% marketshare, your biggest rival is always one of your previous products. Vista and 8 had no problem beating OS X and Linux.

Windows-8 OS is in trouble. Certainly not the "home run" Microsoft may have hoped. All those kludges and third-party add-ons in an attempt to make is usable for mouse/keyboard oriented devices,says a lot (and not nice). Windows-9 will be Microsoft's opportunity to make an OS, or least a UI option, that is designed for non-touch centric devices.

Windows 8 isn't doing as well as expected, indeed. But "in trouble"? No.

"kludges and third-party add-ons" aren't needed. Just a few tips and a few minutes setting up the start menu and default programs, and Windows 8 is (mostly) brilliant. Not entirely. Burn "pictures" with fire, still hasn't been fixed...

TsarNikky said,
Windows-8 OS is in trouble. Certainly not the "home run" Microsoft may have hoped. All those kludges and third-party add-ons in an attempt to make is usable for mouse/keyboard oriented devices,says a lot (and not nice). Windows-9 will be Microsoft's opportunity to make an OS, or least a UI option, that is designed for non-touch centric devices.

Windows 8 doesn't need third party addons to be usable.

TsarNikky said,
Windows-8 OS is in trouble. Certainly not the "home run" Microsoft may have hoped. All those kludges and third-party add-ons in an attempt to make is usable for mouse/keyboard oriented devices,says a lot (and not nice). Windows-9 will be Microsoft's opportunity to make an OS, or least a UI option, that is designed for non-touch centric devices.

The people that use those addons are just lazy and have disposable incomes apparently. I just sucked it up and learned the new interface. Windows 8 has been my primary OS since dev preview anyway. In the time it takes people to complain they could be learning new ways to do things. ;)

Commenting is disabled on this article.