On March 14th, we learned that Mozilla had killed its Modern Firefox for Windows 8 project, citing low adoption. In fact, Mozilla's VP Johnathan Nightingale made a bold statement that releasing the browser for modern UI would be a mistake. Nightingale revealed that since the development began, the Firefox team built, tested, and refined the software. Unfortunately, the problem lies in the adoption of the software and Mozilla believed it remained flat. Instead of wasting time and resources, Mozilla decided to kill the project.
The entire world was quick to blame Microsoft's modern UI as the culprit for a lack of adoption for the Firefox browser. In a blog post by a former Mozilla Firefox developer, Brian R. Bondy, we get an explanation as to why the project was killed off. Bondy gave us two key reasons as to why the adoption was low and why the project was subsequently killed, which I saw via a post on Neowin.
According to Bondy, it all has to do with the default browser setting. He claims Microsoft has made it harder to set your default browser in Windows 8, resulting in users not even knowing they could have had a modern UI capable Firefox. Here are his two reasons:
- Microsoft doesn't allow your browser to run in Modern UI unless you are the default browser [He means the browser must be set as default in order to run in Modern UI mode]. Several people could have had a Modern UI capable Firefox pre-releases installed, but just never knew it.
- Microsoft makes it a lot harder to set your browser as the default in Windows 8. 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.
Bondy adds that modern UI itself is not a problem, rather it is "important for touch hardware" and is "something people are adopting and will adopt more." Bondy reiterates that Mozilla made the right decision to kill off the project.
Have you had issues with setting your default browser on Windows 8?