Mozilla drops Firefox development for Windows Mobile and 7 Series

Back in February, Mozilla released Firefox Mobile for the Maemo platform and was hard at work on a version for Windows Mobile. Now, almost two months later, the browsing giant is throwing in the towel. Here's what Mozilla Mobile Team Technical Lead, Stuart Parmenter had to say on his blog.

"While we think Windows Phone 7 looks interesting and has the potential to do well in the market, Microsoft has unfortunately decided to close off development to native applications.  Because of this, we won’t be able to provide Firefox for Windows Phone 7 at this time.  Given that Microsoft is staking their future in mobile on Windows Mobile 7 (not 6.5) and because we don’t know if or when Microsoft will release a native development kit, we are putting our Windows Mobile development on hold."

Without a way for Mozilla to build for Windows Phone 7, which is the future of Windows in the mobile spectrum, the company sees no point in spending the money and resources to continue the project. For now, Firefox for Windows Mobile will be put on the back-burner, hopefully to be re-evaluated at a time when Microsoft releases a proper native development kit. Until then, Mozilla plans to focus its time and effort on the Android and Maemo platforms.

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Hm... Well, from what Microsoft said, it sounded like there would be some native development available (As they specifically mentioned this as it pertained to multi-tasking). Not sure if that will just be for Microsoft, but I'm hopeful that this is available to others as well, as it would be important for a lot of different types of apps...

lordcanti86 said,
This would be far more crushing if Mozilla was as fast at developing mobile browsers as they are with desktop browsers.

Well, a lot of stuff had to be done from scratch, whereas Firefox for desktop is building on the shoulders of previous versions. Hopefully future development will speed up for their mobile offerings...

Given that Microsoft is staking their future in mobile on Windows Mobile 7 (not 6.5) and because we don’t know if or when Microsoft will release a native development kit, we are putting our Windows Mobile development on hold.

On hold doesn't necessarily mean "dropped" as the title of the article reads.

Shadrack said,

On hold doesn't necessarily mean "dropped" as the title of the article reads.

Yeah, true. Hopefully we'll see something in the future...

And, I mean, if they're waiting for an SDK, how much could they really do if development weren't put on hold? In all honesty...

Edited by M_Lyons10, Mar 26 2010, 3:10am :

Mozilla did mess up a bit, they build a version for Nokia's new Maemo but that is disappearing to become part of MeeGo so work will be needed to make it work fully with MeeGo. They made a version for Windows Mobile and that was dropped. Mozilla choosing mobile OSs that are disappearing.

Windows7even said,
in other news...opera mini was resubmitted to apple for app store approval this morning..lets all keep our fingers crossed

Yeah, I'll be curious to see what happens there...

I love Firefox on my desktop and it's my primary browser. However, I never like its mobile team. What was it, 2 or 3 years ago they release an alpha for winmo and it was a sluggish son of a bitch. It seems like they stop developing for winmo along time ago while Opera continually crunch out improvement. I'm sure because they have a small team and little resources. They'd rather improving for the desktop, and I'd rather have them do that too. As for the mobile space, I think they should STFU and stop threatening people because they simple don't have a working apps for it (beside that Nokia thing). They simply have nothing to show, so I couldn't care less what they say in the mobile space.

vice le von said,
As for the mobile space, I think they should STFU and stop threatening people because they simple don't have a working apps for it (beside that Nokia thing). They simply have nothing to show, so I couldn't care less what they say in the mobile space.
"Threatening people"?! Nothing to show? What silly things to say.

BTW back in 2001, IE6 was the best browser, believe or not ... of course today is just a sorry excuse of a browser, but today is 2010.

Once again.. Neowin puts a misleading title... they didn't drop Firefox development.. they put it on hold. The title makes it seem like they're not going to support it at all.

I'd update the heading before people get the wrong message.

j2006 said,
Once again.. Neowin puts a misleading title... they didn't drop Firefox development.. they put it on hold. The title makes it seem like they're not going to support it at all.
I think you're being waaay too pendantic. They are dropping development - in that development is stopping. Until they have more information or changes from MS, it will not be supported.

Edited by Kirkburn, Mar 23 2010, 7:37pm :

Kirkburn said,
I think you're being waaay too pendantic. They are dropping development - in that development is stopping. Until they have more information or changes from MS, it will not be supported.

Dropped call: *boop* *boop* *boop* *click*
On hold: papa loves mambo~ mama loves mambo~

j2006 said,
Once again.. Neowin puts a misleading title... they didn't drop Firefox development.. they put it on hold. The title makes it seem like they're not going to support it at all.

I'd update the heading before people get the wrong message.

without the windows mobile 7 sdk for c++ then you can say that Firefox team is not even started working at all.

Good think that there is free enterprise, so when IE6 wasn't good enough anymore a bunch of alternative products emerged...

REM2000 said,
if it wasn't for the likes of Firefox we would still be stuck on the turd which is IE6.

You know nothing about the subject, but dare to speake. Therefore you lie.

RealFduch said,

You know nothing about the subject, but dare to speake. Therefore you lie.
Eh? Notice he said "the likes of", not specifically and solely Firefox.

REM2000 said,
if it wasn't for the likes of Firefox we would still be stuck on the turd which is IE6.

If it wasn't for the likes of competitors IE6 probably may not have existed. MS was on a fast track to fully integrating IE into Windows around version 4.0. They no doubt had a very different idea of how the future web would work back then.

On the bright side, mobile platforms at least give us a chance to see what some of those plans may have been--the first time the EU says MS has a monopoly on the smartphone market, they better have a farking 90+% share.

/Europe stopped being cool when Douglas Adams died
//the B Ark landed in Europe after all

Joshie said,

If it wasn't for the likes of competitors IE6 probably may not have existed. MS was on a fast track to fully integrating IE into Windows around version 4.0. They no doubt had a very different idea of how the future web would work back then.

On the bright side, mobile platforms at least give us a chance to see what some of those plans may have been--the first time the EU says MS has a monopoly on the smartphone market, they better have a farking 90+% share.

/Europe stopped being cool when Douglas Adams died
//the B Ark landed in Europe after all

I think Microsoft had *zero* idea about how the web would work in the future.

Mozzilla are such brats these days!
So if WP7 is a success and say MS take a good size chunk of the mobile market, will Mozzilla be pushing for a mobile browser ballet screen on the WP7

jonnyH said,
Mozzilla are such brats these days!
So if WP7 is a success and say MS take a good size chunk of the mobile market, will Mozzilla be pushing for a mobile browser ballet screen on the WP7
One "z".
Don't you think they'd continue development if that were the plan? It'd be a pretty boring ballot screen otherwise.

Kirkburn said,
One "z".
Don't you think they'd continue development if that were the plan? It'd be a pretty boring ballot screen otherwise.

LOL Good point.

Why would you need native development for a browser, C# and Silverlight are perfectly capable for the task, they are secure and the performance is also appropriate (in many cases even better than native code).

This is just a bad excuse nothing more, it is time to start developing using managed code, it is a way better way to program, more productive, more secure, much easier to maintain... I say this as a long time C/C++ developer who recently write mostly managed code because (wait for it....), it is the way we should program in the 21st century.

aludanyi said,
Why would you need native development for a browser

It's just an excuse. They think WP7 will fail but, they can't actually say that. If and when WP7 is successful, guess who'll start developing for the platform again?

aludanyi said,
Why would you need native development for a browser, C# and Silverlight are perfectly capable for the task, they are secure and the performance is also appropriate (in many cases even better than native code).

This is just a bad excuse nothing more, it is time to start developing using managed code, it is a way better way to program, more productive, more secure, much easier to maintain... I say this as a long time C/C++ developer who recently write mostly managed code because (wait for it....), it is the way we should program in the 21st century.

So you suggest they port the entire Gecko codebase to C#? Yeah, not gonna happen...

DVSBSTD said,
So you suggest they port the entire Gecko codebase to C#? Yeah, not gonna happen...

Have you... ever tried porting C/++ to C#? I'm going to guess no.

AgentGray said,

Have you... ever tried porting C/++ to C#? I'm going to guess no.

Actually I did, if the C++ code is good (as Stroustrup would say a C++ code and not a C code with some C++ features) it isn't an impossible task (not easy but possible), if the code is "dirty" then it is harder, but in that case you should refactor the code anyway, so why not refactor and port to a managed environment? You would have to do that soon or a later anyway because managed code is here to stay, and the gain are too many to ignore it, especially in a time when software sucks big time and are way behind the available hardware.

aludanyi said,

Actually I did, if the C++ code is good (as Stroustrup would say a C++ code and not a C code with some C++ features) it isn't an impossible task (not easy but possible), if the code is "dirty" then it is harder, but in that case you should refactor the code anyway, so why not refactor and port to a managed environment? You would have to do that soon or a later anyway because managed code is here to stay, and the gain are too many to ignore it, especially in a time when software sucks big time and are way behind the available hardware.

You need to realize the size of Firefox, it wouldn't be easy to convert to C# and I really doubt it would be worth it just to support Windows Mobile 7

Rudy said,
You need to realize the size of Firefox, it wouldn't be easy to convert to C# and I really doubt it would be worth it just to support Windows Mobile 7

Firefox is just a browser, the code base size is nothing compared to most other software and additionally only a little part of it is C++ code, Firefox Mobile is even smaller...

http://www.ohloh.net/p/firefox/analyses/latest

Rudy said,
You need to realize the size of Firefox, it wouldn't be easy to convert to C# and I really doubt it would be worth it just to support Windows Mobile 7

Where does skyfire fall in all this? It doesn't use geko or webkit does it? I could be wrong here, but didn't they basically write a whole new mobile browser just for WM6.x? Sure it's native, BUT, if you're going through the trouble of doing that in C++, you might as well redo it in C# if the market for your app is there.

*Edit*
NVM, I just checked, skyfire is like Opera mini and does the rendering on the server side. Regardless, that still makes it an option for WP7s since it doesn't have to be native code for just the front end client.

Edited by George P, Mar 23 2010, 4:53pm :

aludanyi said,

Actually I did, if the C++ code is good (as Stroustrup would say a C++ code and not a C code with some C++ features) it isn't an impossible task (not easy but possible), if the code is "dirty" then it is harder, but in that case you should refactor the code anyway, so why not refactor and port to a managed environment? You would have to do that soon or a later anyway because managed code is here to stay, and the gain are too many to ignore it, especially in a time when software sucks big time and are way behind the available hardware.

You'll have a point, when Microsoft itself start writing IE in C#. If even Microsoft don't use C# for this task, maybe there is a reason (or you must be seeing something that no one in the world can see - tip: try to monetize it).

Today, each millisecond in javascript execution is being used as marketing by browsers vendors. Theres no real advantage in using an managed environment for a browser. Microsoft has a managed browser in research called Gazelle, that is notably slower than IE at this point (http://news.cnet.com/8301-13860_3-10280270-56.html), so maybe for some projects a managed enviroment can be appropriate, but with what we have today, its not the case for a browser and its complexities (mainly in a mobile device, where memory and others resources are critical).

aludanyi said,
Why would you need native development for a browser, C# and Silverlight are perfectly capable for the task, they are secure and the performance is also appropriate (in many cases even better than native code).

This is just a bad excuse nothing more, it is time to start developing using managed code, it is a way better way to program, more productive, more secure, much easier to maintain... I say this as a long time C/C++ developer who recently write mostly managed code because (wait for it....), it is the way we should program in the 21st century.

And how do you make the render engine on Silverlight? You might will able to port Opera Mini to Silverlight C#, but not Opera Mobile.

coth said,

And how do you make the render engine on Silverlight? You might will able to port Opera Mini to Silverlight C#, but not Opera Mobile.

it is possible to make a rendering engine in c#, why do you think that isn't possible? However suggesting that firefox should port the entire gecko engine to c# just to support wm7 is ludicrous

Edited by XerXis, Mar 23 2010, 5:11pm :

XerXis said,

it is possible to make a rendering engine in c#, why do you think that isn't possible? However suggesting that firefox should port the entire gecko engine to c# just to support wm7 is ludicrous

Making a rendering engine in C# would have far slower performance than C++/ Native code, and you are also stuck within the confines of the sandbox Silverlight brings, whereas native code you can do whatever the heck you want. There's are reason there no C# browsers.

~Johnny said,

Making a rendering engine in C# would have far slower performance than C++/ Native code, and you are also stuck within the confines of the sandbox Silverlight brings, whereas native code you can do whatever the heck you want. There's are reason there no C# browsers.

That sandbox everyone keeps talking about isn't what it used to be with Silverlight 4. They've expanded it to cover alot of things out-of-the-browser. Like giving you direct access to hardware, like webcams, microphones, printers. It's hardly as constrained as you make it out to be.

Ghostcool said,

Microsoft has a managed browser in research called Gazelle, that is notably slower than IE at this point...

Gazelle is most probably slower than IE not because it is managed code, but because it is a research project. There is no reason to be significantly slower (most of the time) in managed code than in native, that is a fact. Anyway if you are right, then why make a C++ browser? Writing a browser in assembly would be probably significantly faster and you would need less machine resources too. The answer is because it is fast enough and because developer time is much more expensive and much more scarce than machine time, even in a world of smartphones.

aludanyi said,

Gazelle is most probably slower than IE not because it is managed code, but because it is a research project. There is no reason to be significantly slower (most of the time) in managed code than in native, that is a fact. Anyway if you are right, then why make a C++ browser? Writing a browser in assembly would be probably significantly faster and you would need less machine resources too. The answer is because it is fast enough and because developer time is much more expensive and much more scarce than machine time, even in a world of smartphones.

Any serious c++ project use c++ and assembler altogether.

Magallanes said,

Any serious c++ project use c++ and assembler altogether.

after 20+ years in software development I know something about "serious" projects, and even though some projects really use assembly for some performance critical routines, the general rule is that we do that only if unavoidable. Assembly was good for small projects, simple architectures and stand alone developers (or small teams) in any other scenario is a big pain in the ass. It is hard to maintain, hard to achieve to include more developers to work in the same parts of the code and the worst thing is that you need top quality developers all over the spectrum which is very expensive and even if you have the funds, it is very hard to find. That is why C and C++ was the "Holly Grail" of development for so many years and the same reason (although not so much) the "Holly Grail" of programming is managed code today. The only reason not to port everything to managed code is because some applications has extremely large codebase, those codebase are very stable (so it would be a bad business decision to rewrite it) and because your developer base in such case are also stable. But it is very rare that new projects get written in native code today. The reason is clear for everyone who are long enough in the industry and are not very nostalgic.

I don't say native development has no future nor I say that managed is the way to go in any case (because it is not) but we are talking about a piece of software which are not a system software, which are not real time software... a browser. I know JavaScript execution is crucial but the truth is that 99% of the time 99% of browsers are fast enough for any JavaScript out there. Hanging to the remaining 0.1% of cases especially in a Mobile browser is nothing but a waste of time and resources. Come on people wake up, the software industry need to move forward, we are unable to deliver what is needed in the quality, quantity and usability needed only because we try to live the past instead to look forward for the future.

We should and we must use the great tools and frameworks we have on our disposal, and managed code is one of the most important part of that, mature, secure, good performance and extremely productive... in few words it solves most of the problems we face in software development and the cost is a little performance loss (most of the time insignificant).

I give aludanyi and Ghostcool my full permission to take up this project and complete it. I want it on my desk on 12/31/2010. Sorry there's no money right now. So you have to do it for free. Good luck boys!

In all seriousness, I agree with you. However, browsers "in the 21st century" do require the extra speed for JS execution. In fact, the faster JS execution, the better.

Edited by Jebadiah, Mar 25 2010, 4:55am :

ekw said,
opera for WM was great, I'm sure opera will dev for windows phone 7
They won't be able to, you're not allowed to compile C/C++ code, only C#

Rudy said,
They won't be able to, you're not allowed to compile C/C++ code, only C#

That doesn't stop them from doing Opera Mini. Opera mini =/= Opera mobile you know? All they have to do is write a silverlight front end for Opera Mini and it should work just fine.

Rudy said,
They won't be able to, you're not allowed to compile C/C++ code, only C#

They WILL be able co use C/C++ if they prove to MS they need it and prove that the app is not dangerous (that's hard considering Mozilla's tainted security record)

RealFduch said,

They WILL be able co use C/C++ if they prove to MS they need it and prove that the app is not dangerous (that's hard considering Mozilla's tainted security record)

Moving swiftly past the obvious troll, I wasn't aware that MS were permitting ANY unmanaged code in WP7, is this not true?

Majesticmerc said,

Moving swiftly past the obvious troll, I wasn't aware that MS were permitting ANY unmanaged code in WP7, is this not true?

OEMs will, to an extent, iirc. And maybe carriers to make any of their own apps. It's not totally open to them either, but it's better than what 3rd party devs have atm.

I think over time they'll open it up little by little to 3rd party devs as well.

Or they might just do it through adding more direct hardware/API access to things through Silverlight like they did with v4 supporting webcams etc.

Brent1700 said,
If msft gets Internet Explorer right in WP7, there won't be a need for Firefox... hopefully.

Have they ever got IE right on a mobile device?

Maybe Maxathon will jump on board with this.

Brent1700 said,
If msft gets Internet Explorer right in WP7, there won't be a need for Firefox... hopefully.
Even if IE is good (not likely) it's always nice to have alternatives.... It would also be nice to have FF on the iPhone...but that's not going to happen

Rudy said,
Even if IE is good (not likely) it's always nice to have alternatives.... It would also be nice to have FF on the iPhone...but that's not going to happen

i think Mozilla is watching Opera mini first if it going to be accepted by Apple .. they sure don't want to waste hundreds of hours developing for the iPhone and get their app rejected for some ridiculous reason

Edited by Bero, Mar 23 2010, 3:28pm :

Brent1700 said,
If msft gets Internet Explorer right in WP7, there won't be a need for Firefox... hopefully.

They won't, because they're using IE7.

Meph said,

They won't, because they're using IE7.

Which works with pretty much most sites tested for it. Download the emulator and try it out. It's "mostly" based on the IE7 engine but it's got parts of IE8 in there as well. They said it's more like IE7.5 really.

Regardless, WP7s has an update system in place, so when IE9 is done for the desktop they can work it out for mobile as well. One thing at a time.

Brent1700 said,
If msft gets Internet Explorer right in WP7, there won't be a need for Firefox... hopefully.

You do realize this is Microsoft we are talking about, right?

tonyunreal said,

You do realize this is Microsoft we are talking about, right?

Hey! Lately, msft has done what an innovative software/hardware company should do... I have faith.

Brent1700 said,
If msft gets Internet Explorer right in WP7, there won't be a need for Firefox... hopefully.

But it's not right. WM7 Emulator Image is are already available. It's hardly they will bring any appreciable difference to what they have now within half a year.

Brent1700 said,
If msft gets Internet Explorer right in WP7, there won't be a need for Firefox... hopefully.

So how long before mozilla begs the EU to do another ballot box and force microsoft to include them on the phones?

coth said,

But it's not right. WM7 Emulator Image is are already available. It's hardly they will bring any appreciable difference to what they have now within half a year.

What? The emulator isn't going to stay the same that it is now, I don't know where you got that idea from. They'll update the SDK and tools again when VS2010 goes RTM next month. And they'll keep updating them again when Silverlight 4 goes RTM and so on. The "emulator" is basically just a tweaked VM (probably Virtual PC) with the OS on it. They can dump the newest build of WP7 to it at any time.

Brent1700 said,
If msft gets Internet Explorer right in WP7, there won't be a need for Firefox... hopefully.

Yeah, and the built in IE in WP7 is actually not half bad!

Brent1700 said,
If msft gets Internet Explorer right in WP7, there won't be a need for Firefox... hopefully.

IE could be absolutely fantastic but it won't change the fact that choices are a good thing.