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

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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. ;)

"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.

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.

If Mozilla had decided to detect where a url link came from. Metro or Desktop, and then load the appropriate UI as Internet Explorer does - then it may have raised awareness, and been a more sensible way to do it IMO.

I am not sure if it is simply not possible for third parties, or if they took a decision to make it a deliberate switch hidden in a menu.

Geezy said,
That doesn't sound like a very user friendly way to deal with app preferences...

Firefox could of easily built a hybrid browser like IE is right now.

shinji257 said,
Firefox could of easily built a hybrid browser like IE is right now.

It was a hybrid wasn't it? Still, that doesn't change the point about the silly handling of user preferences.

Sales numbers? Please post links.....I think its struggling but not the biggest failure by any means... another thing, Firefox had a beta browser available?? Didn't even know that...

Dot Matrix said,

Don't start. 200 million licenses moved, is still 200 million licenses moved.


And probably many more now...

Dot Matrix said,

Don't start. 200 million licenses moved, is still 200 million licenses moved.

Of course we don't know how many of those were sold at dirt cheap prices, or mostly given away to OEMs to boost the numbers.

recursive said,

Of course we don't know how many of those were sold at dirt cheap prices, or mostly given away to OEMs to boost the numbers.

Right. :rolleyes:

recursive said,

Of course we don't know how many of those were sold at dirt cheap prices, or mostly given away to OEMs to boost the numbers.

Which means Android's numbers are now irrelevant in any argument that they're considered popular :o

The difference of course, is that the Android numbers are activiation numbers, which is a device in a customer's hands. The windows 8 licenses are sold / given away to OEM's and have no guarantee of being used on a device, or if used, have no guarantee they will get sold.

Windows 8.x was in trouble before it was even released and has turned into the single biggest OS failure in the entire history of Microsoft.

And all the denials in the world will never change that stark, simple truth.

I dunno... what about ME? or even "Vista Ready"... Hell, even 98 resulted in a second edition coming out the next year... Does BOB count as an OS?

8 is far from the biggest os failure for microsoft

Askew_ said,
I dunno... what about ME? or even "Vista Ready"... Hell, even 98 resulted in a second edition coming out the next year... Does BOB count as an OS?

8 is far from the biggest os failure for microsoft

For once a reply that isn't full of outright lies and hatred!

ME was horrid, yes, but it failed on a different level altogether and not quite as badly as 8.X did/has, the fail with ME was due to it just being unstable garbage, 8.X failed on the usability level as well as aesthetics, it was an ugly, user-hostile environment and consumers have been avoiding it like the plague since day #1 and will continue to avoid it until 9 comes out then they will forget it ever existed at all.

Vista was also a different failure and again (just like 8.X) is 100% the fault of Microsoft, vista had a very user-friendly UI, it's biggest failure was stability and hardware requirements, driver issues were also the fault of microsoft for signing them, certifying their use for vista, it was not the fault of the vendors as the fanboys would like you to believe.

The whole "200 million sold" is nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction, sure microsoft may have sold that many to OEM's but it is not a reflection of actual retail sales or even close to it.
200 million doesn't mean squat if most of those machines are still sitting on the shelves collecting dust, look at marketshare statistics for a more clear representation of the real failure of windows 8.x, it really is a humiliating time for microsoft these days and their fanboys as well.

I had very little issues with ME, far less than 98 and in my experience and around me, it was about the same as 98SE when it came to stability issues and the sorts.

I (and many more) love the Windows 8.1 GUI and the direction its going. Yes its far from perfect, but it's hell of a lot perfecter than 7 or previous OS.
And I'm speaking as a desktop user, I don't require the need of Modern apps on my PC, I rarely use them (a game or so, skype modern > skype desktop). The tiles are handy. Love the start screen. I hated the start menu, yeah its easy and simple. But that was its problem. Have you EVER looked at your programs folder (unless you are a very tidy man constantly keeping it clean OR never ever install anything). Vista degraded the whole start menu to a search box. Microsoft saw this, they have the usage stats to back it up (for those who didnt disable the customer experience feedback in Vista and 7, which are the majority of casual users).

So yeah, instead of having a desktop background, I know have a desktop overlay. It's just called the start screen. But its more an active desktop background than a start menu.

Oh and the "start menu" is already back in 8.1, Winkey+S same functionality the start menu had in Windows 7 for the majority of so called windows 8 hating desktop users.

Askew_ said,
I dunno... what about ME? or even "Vista Ready"... Hell, even 98 resulted in a second edition coming out the next year... Does BOB count as an OS?

8 is far from the biggest os failure for microsoft

"Vista compatible" or "Vista capable", I don't remember exactly the terminology, was the worst of the worst. At least Bob was, technically speaking, an extremely advanced piece of software, in its time of course.

Order_66 said,

ME was horrid, yes, but it failed on a different level altogether and not quite as badly as 8.X did/has, the fail with ME was due to it just being unstable garbage,

I disagree. I have used bought a new computer (self assembled) a few months before ME release. I was pissed off at W98's crashes and errors. ME was a fresh breath of air. Not only it crashed much less, it also had many improved features. I used it until XP was out and was very happy with it.

Order_66 said,

The whole "200 million sold" is nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction, sure microsoft may have sold that many to OEM's but it is not a reflection of actual retail sales or even close to it.
200 million doesn't mean squat if most of those machines are still sitting on the shelves collecting dust, look at marketshare statistics for a more clear representation of the real failure of windows 8.x, it really is a humiliating time for microsoft these days and their fanboys as well.

200 million is 200 million. And I am pretty sure that did reflect retail if OEMs are selling the computers. And even if it doesnt, its still 200 million licenses for MS. Granted, Windows 9 will be received way better because the MS haters will finally be deflected with all MS has learned from the mistakes they made in Windows 8.

But this isnt humiliating for MS or the other fanboys who love Windows 8.x. We will continue to enjoy our full Windows 8 tablets, our customizing start screen, our superior resource management, quicker boot times, and all the other cool things Windows 8 provides =).

Order_66 said,

Vista was also a different failure and again (just like 8.X) is 100% the fault of Microsoft, vista had a very user-friendly UI, it's biggest failure was stability and hardware requirements, driver issues were also the fault of microsoft for signing them, certifying their use for vista, it was not the fault of the vendors as the fanboys would like you to believe.

The lack of driver availability was very much avender issue. HP actually waited until Vista was released to even begin working on drivers for stuff beyond what their individual computers needed. I didn't even get an updated network driver for my multi-function printer instead being pointed at the generic one that Microsoft supplied which only supported the scanner over USB. The HP one supported the scanner over the network.

Now then drivers that passed WHQL and were available as well as being unstable well then Microsoft deserves the blame then.

Shadowzz said,
I had very little issues with ME, far less than 98 and in my experience and around me, it was about the same as 98SE when it came to stability issues and the sorts.

I (and many more) love the Windows 8.1 GUI and the direction its going. Yes its far from perfect, but it's hell of a lot perfecter than 7 or previous OS.
And I'm speaking as a desktop user, I don't require the need of Modern apps on my PC, I rarely use them (a game or so, skype modern > skype desktop). The tiles are handy. Love the start screen. I hated the start menu, yeah its easy and simple. But that was its problem. Have you EVER looked at your programs folder (unless you are a very tidy man constantly keeping it clean OR never ever install anything). Vista degraded the whole start menu to a search box. Microsoft saw this, they have the usage stats to back it up (for those who didnt disable the customer experience feedback in Vista and 7, which are the majority of casual users).

So yeah, instead of having a desktop background, I know have a desktop overlay. It's just called the start screen. But its more an active desktop background than a start menu.

Oh and the "start menu" is already back in 8.1, Winkey+S same functionality the start menu had in Windows 7 for the majority of so called windows 8 hating desktop users.

And contrary to what has been the catalyzer here, meaning the Start Screen, what you described is the biggest issue for MS: if you buy an app on the store, therefore a Modern/Metro app, MS will make 30% of the sale, if you buy a desktop app it doesn't.
It seems that at, least in the in the near/ mid term, future the real mother load will no longer be the up front profit generate by the sale of the OS but the continuous one generated by the sales of apps.

Cosmocronos said,

And contrary to what has been the catalyzer here, meaning the Start Screen, what you described is the biggest issue for MS: if you buy an app on the store, therefore a Modern/Metro app, MS will make 30% of the sale, if you buy a desktop app it doesn't.
It seems that at, least in the in the near/ mid term, future the real mother load will no longer be the up front profit generate by the sale of the OS but the continuous one generated by the sales of apps.


And? If you do not wish too, make a Win32 app and it will be listed for free.
Users will not care for this, some devs will.

But then again, you can use the best IDE available for free (or practically free). No need to host anything, not even a website. You can do it all through Microsoft provided channels.
And part of why Windows 8 is cheaper than previous, and perhaps the next release there the "basic/home" might become free-ish.

So your paying 30% per purchase, (can use in-app purchases that bypass Microsoft if you please) in return you get a good development environment, everything in when it comes to distribution is taken care of, and some of that 30% is used to invest in spreading the userbase (for you, as developer).

All in all, even for developers, that 30% isnt so bad as it seems. Apple is stricter and more expensive (considering in-app purchases mainly though) and gets away with it.

But because its MS its bad? Come on.

Shadowzz said,

And? If you do not wish too, make a Win32 app and it will be listed for free.
Users will not care for this, some devs will.

But then again, you can use the best IDE available for free (or practically free). No need to host anything, not even a website. You can do it all through Microsoft provided channels.
And part of why Windows 8 is cheaper than previous, and perhaps the next release there the "basic/home" might become free-ish.

So your paying 30% per purchase, (can use in-app purchases that bypass Microsoft if you please) in return you get a good development environment, everything in when it comes to distribution is taken care of, and some of that 30% is used to invest in spreading the userbase (for you, as developer).

All in all, even for developers, that 30% isnt so bad as it seems. Apple is stricter and more expensive (considering in-app purchases mainly though) and gets away with it.

But because its MS its bad? Come on.

What are you talking about? When and where I hinted, less than ever staged an attack to MS?
What I said is that because a substantial percentage of people do not like/ do not find useful Modern apps they will not buying them.
So utterly ridiculous...

Once again, except for Windows 7, there is no other OS that sold so many licenses in this time then Windows 8, how is that a failure?

Order_66 said,
Windows 8.x was in trouble before it was even released and has turned into the single biggest OS failure in the entire history of Microsoft.

And all the denials in the world will never change that stark, simple truth.

You and a lot of others are pinning a lot of hope on Windows 9 (I hope its good too) but it could be another failure like 8.x in our humble opinion but I sure hope it does fix everything

Microsoft has done the wrong thing in terms of metro browsers. I wanted to use modern firefox, but I didn't want to loose modern IE at the same time. Microsoft only allows one modern browser.

Once Microsoft does the right thing and allows real modern browsers without requiring it to be the default, the modern browsers will come.

If you build it they will come only applies to a good development platform. Installing VLC doesn't mean you loose Xbox Video. If that were the case, it would be a totally different story. Mozilla is not at fault. Microsoft is.

theyarecomingforyou said,
The way Windows 8 handles browsers is a Complete Mess™. It's really not surprising that Mozilla abandoned their plans for a Metro browser.

+1 for that. And the whole Metro is mess if you ask me tho...