Mozilla: Firefox would be crippled on Windows RT

Mozilla came out with guns blazing at Microsoft on Wednesday, saying that Microsoft's decision to limit access to web browsers, such as Firefox, on Windows RT (also known as WOA) could be a violation of Microsoft's antitrust settlement that was approved a decade ago.

News.com reports that according to Mozilla, Firefox could in theory be made to work on Windows RT. However, Microsoft has chosen to limit developers' access to a set of APIs for that OS that, in Mozilla's viewpoint, would cripple a Windows RT-based Firefox browser.

Mozilla spokesman Asa Dotzler states:

Of particular concern are the APIs that IE has access to which Microsoft is denying other browsers, including VirtualAlloc / HeapAlloc and friends, CreateNamedPipe, ConnectNamedPipe, DisconnectNamedPipe, CreateProcess, and various others.

These APIs allow for things like making memory executable, a prerequisite for building a JIT [just-in-time compiler]. Without a JIT, it will be impossible to build a modern browser. These APIs also allow for things like spawning additional processes, and communicating between them -- something we use to isolate plug-ins for security and stability purposes and other browsers, including IE, use to isolate tabs and windows for security and stability purposes.

Microsoft has said in the past that Windows RT is not the same as its x86 version of Windows. Microsoft's Steven Sinofsky stated back in February, "If we enabled the broad porting of existing code we would fail to deliver on our commitment to longer battery life, predictable performance, and especially a reliable experience over time."

Google has already stated it agrees with Mozilla's viewpoint over the Windows RT restrictions. So far, Microsoft has yet to comment on Mozilla's statements.

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You do mean be able to bring their great browsers to Windows RT with the Support of Microsoft ... see Wine and other great example of reverse engineering such as but not limited to Root Kits to understand in toto

Microsoft seem to be focusing hard on the user experience, maybe even too hard as it is crippling a lot of developers and limiting some innovation to a degree.

I do see where Microsoft is coming from, it's the right idea, but they're focusing too hard.

Is there any statistics that show how many people use browser plug-ins? For me, I only use Ad-Block on any flash or animated ads.

I feel sorry for Mozilla and Google to not at this current time to be able to bring their great browsers to Windows RT.

Stop bitching and do what we did 20 something ****ing years ago... (For those not in the know option 1 was reverse it and patch it, option 2 was make a new OS) Do we really need option 3 which is in short:

Oh Mr Bitch Judge... please tell this company that they must make that function call public because I cannot write header sniffers and my knowledge of RVA is futile at best!

Which is also always usually followed by a 'Ohhh Mr. Bitch Judeeeee, that company made the call public but they are employing some new type of stack verification in the DEP layer....' inter alia...

Christ all mighty please come back already these ****ing people...

KillTheIrishman said,
Sounds like Mozilla is being a little bitch because they have failed to code their browser for the platform.

Huh? OK, let's see you develop an efficient browser without a JIT. I'll wait. I'm particularly interested in how you will work around the issue of not being able to execute code in memory.

TechJunkie81 said,
Firefox has been getting bloated and slower for a long time now. Eventually they will be gone. Just based on their incompetence.

Just like Opera, right?
I don't think anyone knows what 'bloated' means.

TechJunkie81 said,
Firefox has been getting bloated and slower for a long time now. Eventually they will be gone. Just based on their incompetence.

It's not incompetency to not be able to use executable memory in a browser.
It is incompetency to write a comment not understanding that, however.

The Teej said,
Could always do the rendering on the server side rather then client side instead? Or would that be too slow?

That's what Opera is doing, and how they're avoiding restrictions in similar walled gardens. The only problem with that is poor support for interactive websites. They can basically only feed the user a "dead" website, take user feedback to send back to the server, etc. Fancy CSS effects are usually (always?) out.

History repeats itself, 10 years ago it was win32, now winrt. Microsoft tactics will allways be the same.

lexp said,
History repeats itself, 10 years ago it was win32, now winrt. Microsoft tactics will allways be the same.

WinRT is for mobile devices ? This is not the same.

TechJunkie81 said,

WinRT is for mobile devices ? This is not the same.


The mindset is.

What's funny is WinRT exists just to be able to restrict these kind of things. It's not as if Win32 (despite its name) didn't support development of extremely high-perfoming, mobile 64-bit applications.

Win32 is even an abstracted API, as well as the NT kernel with the HAL, so it's in theory already ready for ARM development. This vision was part of the reason to why Microsoft developed Win32 + NT. They don't need this crap just to make developers able to support touch or anything.

Ridiculous.

But the general public won't understand what people are talking about when going into this "tech talk", so the product will sell, and people will buy Microsoft's excuses.

"If we enabled the broad porting of existing code we would fail to deliver on our commitment to longer battery life, predictable performance, and especially a reliable experience over time."

Then Microsoft is saying:
a) nobody will use those features.
b) nobody but me (iexplorer) will use those features.

a) is fair while b) sound like a long fight.

simplezz said,
Those are essential API's. It's going to make porting apps to RT a nightmare.

Have you ever had a deep look at WinRT API specification before trying to comment yellow-press speculations? And also tried to read best practices on WinRT for mobile development and how does implementation differ from desktop computing? Just curious

Vladislav Nagorny said,

Have you ever had a deep look at WinRT API specification before trying to comment yellow-press speculations? And also tried to read best practices on WinRT for mobile development and how does implementation differ from desktop computing? Just curious


What's the incentive to learn the WinRT API specs? Microsoft cripples browser development on their latest platform, and these guys are supposed to eagerly learn how to work around it? Okay. Well, I guess it makes sense if you're used to play the Microsoft game. The Silverlight devs should have experience now that they've been scaling back that. Maybe Mozilla should ask them, and start by taking relaxing yoga classes.

_Heracles said,
Do not forget that Firefox does not allow MP3/h264/AAC.

You say that like it's a bad thing. Firefox supports open formats unencumbered by patents. It supports Theora and WebM, both used substantially on the internet.

simplezz said,

You say that like it's a bad thing. Firefox supports open formats unencumbered by patents. It supports Theora and WebM, both used substantially on the internet.

They want to be a substitute for IE10, but they are NOT GOOD ENOUGH without supporting the most common media and audio formats in existence.

Considering that so-called "open" formats will drain your battery life much faster and will eat your CPU slowing down you browsing experience

and these so-called "closed" formats will provide great battery life and will _NOT_ use the CPU thus providing your with fast, stutter free, browsing experience.

Mozilla are run by Google Co. - Microsoft offers you FREE MP3/AAC/AVC decoders with HWA support - USE THEM!!!

_Heracles said,

They want to be a substitute for IE10, but they are NOT GOOD ENOUGH without supporting the most common media and audio formats in existence.

You do realise the WinRT version of IE10 forbids any plugins. That means no flash (the most common format for media on the internet), no WebM, and no Theora.

_Heracles said,

Mozilla are run by Google Co. - Microsoft offers you FREE MP3/AAC/AVC decoders with HWA support - USE THEM!!!

By supporting patent encumbered formats which require a licence, hardware and software is made more expensive for consumers.

simplezz said,

You do realise the WinRT version of IE10 forbids any plugins. That means no flash (the most common format for media on the internet), no WebM, and no Theora.


By supporting patent encumbered formats which require a licence, hardware and software is made more expensive for consumers.


WebM support is built in to Firefox, not a plugin.

And you get much greater quality from "patent encumbered formats" - so it pays off.

_Heracles said,
Do not forget that Firefox does not allow MP3/h264/AAC.

They are about to allow some of this though. Check the H.264 news.

So they can't use plugins and they have to use the Microsoft JIT compiler. boo freakin hoo.

Give me a firefox skin on IE and I'll be happy enough.

greenwizard88 said,
So they can't use plugins and they have to use the Microsoft JIT compiler. boo freakin hoo.

Give me a firefox skin on IE and I'll be happy enough.

i think you misunderstand, they CANT ACCESS the JIT compiler and other components they listed in the article

greenwizard88 said,
So they can't use plugins and they have to use the Microsoft JIT compiler. boo freakin hoo.

The JIT compiler is built into the browser, not an external component.
greenwizard88 said,

Give me a firefox skin on IE and I'll be happy enough.

Enjoy all those adverts and scripts then.

MS is just doing this to boost IE marketshare. Once it goes high they will open permission as Apple did with iOS.

Jose_49 said,
MS is just doing this to boost IE marketshare. Once it goes high they will open permission as Apple did with iOS.

*No one* can write a new browser for iOS. They all use the Webkit library bundled with the OS, except for Opera, which doesn't actually have any JS support to speak of.

They're shells. And they don't even have access to the same stuff that Safari does.

The Department of Justice settled with Microsoft regarding antitrust laws. and the specific antitrust oversight restrictions ended a year or so ago, if I recall.

Avenger said,
The Department of Justice settled with Microsoft regarding antitrust laws. and the specific antitrust oversight restrictions ended a year or so ago, if I recall.

they ended 2 years after the release of Windows 7 if im not mistaking 2009 or something.

Shadowzz said,

they ended 2 years after the release of Windows 7 if im not mistaking 2009 or something.
which is why they're able to have their anti-virus (MSE) built into the OS now

The latest FireFox is good, but it just feels "heavy". I used FF out of spite (old browser was Chrome), but have ditched it. I have a bad feeling that FF is going the way of Opera: a good browser, that juuuuuuust cant seem to get it right.

MikeInBA said,
The latest FireFox is good, but it just feels "heavy". I used FF out of spite (old browser was Chrome), but have ditched it. I have a bad feeling that FF is going the way of Opera: a good browser, that juuuuuuust cant seem to get it right.

Y U NO try Firefox 13 (Aurora) to see how light it is now... (Or Firefox 15 to feel the speed)

bogas04 said,

Y U NO try Firefox 13 (Aurora) to see how light it is now... (Or Firefox 15 to feel the speed)


Still a joke.

Just NOW, after like 8 to 10 versions, they noticed that their GUI is much slower with D2D enabled for example.
In other words, Firefox treats Windows platform as the de-facto last thing they want to work on.

_Heracles said,

Still a joke.

Just NOW, after like 8 to 10 versions, they noticed that their GUI is much slower with D2D enabled for example.
In other words, Firefox treats Windows platform as the de-facto last thing they want to work on.

Y U No turn off D2D? (There is no browser currently other than IE , which can function perfectly using complete HA on Win)

bogas04 said,

Y U No turn off D2D? (There is no browser currently other than IE , which can function perfectly using complete HA on Win)


Better question, why doesn't Mozilla take D3D9 and D3D10 seriously?
They blacklist GPUs which full support Direct2D without any problem.

They jumped the D2D boat in Firefox 4 but they never did anything to fix it up and make it good.

Windows 8 runs on D2D, and runs very smoothly I might add.

_Heracles said,

Better question, why doesn't Mozilla take D3D9 and D3D10 seriously?
They blacklist GPUs which full support Direct2D without any problem.

They jumped the D2D boat in Firefox 4 but they never did anything to fix it up and make it good.

Windows 8 runs on D2D, and runs very smoothly I might add.

Why doesn't Chrome/Safari/Opera take it seriously too? Coz its hair snatching-ly awful to fix stuff which is dependent on OS.

bogas04 said,

Why doesn't Chrome/Safari/Opera take it seriously too? Coz its hair snatching-ly awful to fix stuff which is dependent on OS.


So why won't they code their browsers in Java? It's platform independent, right?

MikeInBA said,
The latest FireFox is good, but it just feels "heavy". I used FF out of spite (old browser was Chrome), but have ditched it. I have a bad feeling that FF is going the way of Opera: a good browser, that juuuuuuust cant seem to get it right.

Funny, since Firefox is quickly becoming the leanest browser of the pack. It's certainly leaner than Chrome already, and Firefox 15 will have even further improvements. This is in part due to the in-process tabs not causing overhead, but also due to them having closed memory "leaks" (not really leaks, but the public bastardized the meaning of that one) the past year, which will in a way culminate in Firefox 15 and massive improvements for extension memory usage.

I don't like this restriction, but I don't see how it fits into the anti-competitive thing. Microsoft is only doing this on it's Metro platform (which, let's face it, is a mobile target). Mozilla can still build a browser on the desktop platform of Windows 8.

Apple doesn't let anyone build a browser at all on its mobile platforms. So if you want to nail Microsoft for restricting a subset of it's OS platform like this, then you have to nail Apple for doing the same thing.

More specifically: no one can build a proper browser with a non-Webkit engine.

Any other browser in the App Store (except for Opera mini) uses the Webkit control. However, since iOS 5 the performance improvements made in Safari aren't available for any other app due to security concerns (related to Nitro). In addition, notice that scrolling through pages in browsers other than Safari isn't as smooth as Safari itself.

Opera mini gets around this as it doesn't interpret a web page. In the meantime, there won't be any accommodation for Firefox or Google's flavour of Webkit.

boogerjones said,
I don't like this restriction, but I don't see how it fits into the anti-competitive thing. Microsoft is only doing this on it's Metro platform (which, let's face it, is a mobile target). Mozilla can still build a browser on the desktop platform of Windows 8.

Apple doesn't let anyone build a browser at all on its mobile platforms. So if you want to nail Microsoft for restricting a subset of it's OS platform like this, then you have to nail Apple for doing the same thing.


I thought it was the Legacy UI Windows RT doesn't allow other browsers on...


I don't believe Apple allows developers to install their own HTML rendering or JavaScript engines on iOS. I know at least that WAS the case at one point though it may have changed at some point. Alternate browsers thus either required you to jailbreak your phone, just provided a different UI for the same Safari webkit and javascript engine, or did the processing remotely on a centralized server and then sent back the result to the phone. I haven't checked all the browsers in that list to see which category they fall in but I haven't heard anything about Apple lifting their ban.

Corgylegs said,
Seems like Microsoft is pushing their browser, not that it needs help with its majority stake in the browser market.

Heaven forbid a company wanting to market their own software. Next, you'll want to force McDonald's to offer Burger King in their stores.

Corgylegs said,
Seems like Microsoft is pushing their browser, not that it needs help with its majority stake in the browser market.
Has nothing to do with Microsoft wanting to market their software, it has to do with them forcing only one option.

Sranshaft said,

Heaven forbid a company wanting to market their own software. Next, you'll want to force McDonald's to offer Burger King in their stores.


So it doesn't make sense for Windows 8 to support competing software? Are you saying that?

I have no idea why that comment was "liked" that much. Seems completely against the open Windows mindset to say they should do a McDonald and not offer anything at all besides their own products.

Northgrove said,

So it doesn't make sense for Windows 8 to support competing software? Are you saying that?

I have no idea why that comment was "liked" that much. Seems completely against the open Windows mindset to say they should do a McDonald and not offer anything at all besides their own products.

There's a huge difference between offering support for 3rd party software and having to bend over backwards due to government mandates because those 3rd party developers keep crying to Washington / EU.

Microsoft has never said Mozilla, Google, Opera, etc, can't release their browser on Windows 8. They do, however, need to realize there are limitations and develop their software accordingly. Having the desktop included with Windows 8 is a stopgap due to time factors with the scheduled release date and with Windows 9, I would bet dollars to donuts the desktop will completely disappear.

Mozilla can shout all they want about this but Windows RT isn't sold or made the same as x86 Windows 8. It's sold as is fully to the OEM to install on their own specific hardware, it's a custom job so saying they're breaking some sorta anti-trust ruling really doesn't apply in this case, we're not talking desktop PCs. MS has no monopoly on tablets at all.

GP007 said,
Mozilla can shout all they want about this but Windows RT isn't sold or made the same as x86 Windows 8. It's sold as is fully to the OEM to install on their own specific hardware, it's a custom job so saying they're breaking some sorta anti-trust ruling really doesn't apply in this case, we're not talking desktop PCs. MS has no monopoly on tablets at all.

Finally someone who has sense

Did Mozilla (& Google) whined about the iPad which does the same thing ? I don't remember it
Also, Opera doesn't seems to have this problem, lazy Mozilla seems lazy.

That's irrelevant. What Mozilla and Google are legitimately concerned about is the effectiveness of their browsers on ARM-based devices. If this is indeed true, then it seems somewhat unfair. Also, simply because Opera has declined to comment doesn't mean they disagree.

Anthonyd said,
Did Mozilla (& Google) whined about the iPad which does the same thing ? I don't remember it
Also, Opera doesn't seems to have this problem, lazy Mozilla seems lazy.

Windows has higher market share, and who knows they might be developing WinRT browser already and this news just takes their hardwork to trash.

bogas04 said,

Windows has higher market share, and who knows they might be developing WinRT browser already and this news just takes their hardwork to trash.

How does Windows RT have a higher market share? as far as I know Windows RT has 0 market share so far.

Windows RT != Windows 7 or Windows 8 (correct me if I am wrong on both)

Anaron said,
That's irrelevant. What Mozilla and Google are legitimately concerned about is the effectiveness of their browsers on ARM-based devices. If this is indeed true, then it seems somewhat unfair. Also, simply because Opera has declined to comment doesn't mean they disagree.

They can do their own OS and try to sell it (like ChromeOS). I don't see why MS should lower the security barrier because Mozilla is too lazy to get rid of it's Win32 api inherited from netscape.
Also, IIRC, Opera made an iPad browser who has the same kind of limitation without any problem. So it's possible, unless you are lazy.

bogas04 said,
Windows has higher market share, and who knows they might be developing WinRT browser already and this news just takes their hardwork to trash.

Windows RT will land with 0% market share. Don't expect it to reach 95% on tablets like Windows.

bogas04 said,

Windows has higher market share, and who knows they might be developing WinRT browser already and this news just takes their hardwork to trash.


Windows RT has 0% market share and if we count it as Windows, it has miniscule tablet market share.

waqastariq said,

How does Windows RT have a higher market share? as far as I know Windows RT has 0 market share so far.

Windows RT != Windows 7 or Windows 8 (correct me if I am wrong on both)

I said Windows, not Windows RT. Anyways yes it has 0% market share, however not having a chance in a much anticipated thing is not good. And i guess Mozilla didn't want to waste time fighting Apple and their Lawyers

Anthonyd said,

I don't see why MS should lower the security barrier because Mozilla is too lazy to get rid of it's Win32 api inherited from netscape.

Maybe you should have a bit deeper look at the Mozilla's arguments. The functions for JIT are needed to allow you to execute a code created by the compiler; the data memory segments does not allow to execute code. And the create process and interprocess communication are needed for plugin isolation. There is no substitute for this functionality. It is not lazyness - those functions are simply not there and there is no replacement for them.

What it means: If the browser wants to run JavaScript (which is a cornerstone of HTML5 apps), it has to stick with a pure interpretation. It will be ~ 10-times slower than it should be. And if you use a plugin and the plugin crashes, the whole browser will crash. Is that what you want?

Jugger.naut said,
Maybe you should have a bit deeper look at the Mozilla's arguments. The functions for JIT are needed to allow you to execute a code created by the compiler; the data memory segments does not allow to execute code. And the create process and interprocess communication are needed for plugin isolation. There is no substitute for this functionality. It is not lazyness - those functions are simply not there and there is no replacement for them.

What it means: If the browser wants to run JavaScript (which is a cornerstone of HTML5 apps), it has to stick with a pure interpretation. It will be ~ 10-times slower than it should be. And if you use a plugin and the plugin crashes, the whole browser will crash. Is that what you want?

Right. Got any info about how fast is JIT on ARM? It can't be compared to the x86 version

Anthonyd said,
Did Mozilla (& Google) whined about the iPad which does the same thing ? I don't remember it
Also, Opera doesn't seems to have this problem, lazy Mozilla seems lazy.

Yes... Google, Mozilla and Opera all complained. If I remember, Microsoft was even talking against Apple. All four saw it as anti-competitive.

Neither issue, however, seems to rise to the level of anti-trust regulations.

Honestly though, it does not really matter. Microsoft is doing themselves a disservice by launching the ARM variant with only IE... as it is simply too wake to compete against the other three main browsers at the moment.

My guess is that Windows 8 is fairly successful, but only due to x86 32/64 architecture. I foresee a good enough product from Intel to make this a reality.

Anaron said,
That's irrelevant. What Mozilla and Google are legitimately concerned about..

Its not legitimate at all. Microsoft has no monopoly in the tablet market. They arent even close to a majority of market share. The DOJ Rules apply to a computer, in which Microsoft does indeed hold the majority. Windows RT is a tablet only OS, Windows 8 is a computer OR tablet OS. In Windows 8 they have access to the APIs they are complaining about. The API set is different between iOS and OSX yet you don't hear Mozilla complain there. Instead iOS gets firefox home, which is just synced bookmarks and no browser.

Anthonyd said,
Did Mozilla (& Google) whined about the iPad which does the same thing ? I don't remember it
Also, Opera doesn't seems to have this problem, lazy Mozilla seems lazy.

On Mozilla:

Yes, they did. http://www.conceivablytech.com...igital-destiny-says-mozilla

On Opera:

Opera is sending all your traffic through their servers. This is a privacy problem itself. Anyway. This means there's no web site renderer on the actual devices. So that makes them not have "that problem". It's not uncommon this breaking website compatibility. A frequent Opera user probably know this, especially for interactive or HTML5 heavy websites. If that's what you're after, feel free to use Opera on mobile.

Please don't call people lazy if you haven't done your research. Please also look to refresh your memory. It's always safest to not be cocky when not sure of what you're writing.