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