SOFTWARE DEVELOPER Mozilla has announced that it has abandoned a version of its Firefox web browser for Microsoft's Modern, or Metro, Windows 8.1 user interface.
Although the Firefox web browser for Windows 8.1 Metro has been two years in the making, and in spite of a public beta released last month, Mozilla has decided not to release that version of Firefox, with Windows 8.1 users invited to continue to use the desktop edition.
In a blog post on Friday, Firefox VP Johnathan Nightingale cited apathy as one of the driving factors, explaining, "On any given day we have, for instance, millions of people testing pre-release versions of Firefox desktop, but we've never seen more than 1,000 active daily users in the Metro environment." He said that it is important for the company to "pick our battles".
The development of Firefox Metro has been beset by problems, which explains its lengthy gestation period, and Mozilla believes that its resources are best put to use in further development of the desktop edition and that releasing a final version of Firefox Metro would be "a mistake".
This news is a mixed blessing for Microsoft. While the removal of a major competitor and the limitations of Chrome in the Metro environment make Internet Explorer the only game in town, the withdrawal also represents another indictment of the Metro, er, Modern user interface.
With an upcoming update to Windows 8.1 including a move back towards the traditional Windows desktop environment and Windows 9 expected to complete the backpedalling, Mozilla has very little to fear about the impact this decision will have on its user base.
However, Microsoft is fast being forced to recognise that the Windows 8 Metro, or Modern, user interface will likely become history best forgotten along with Windows Vista and Windows ME. µ
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