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Mozilla drops Firefox for Modern UI plans

Mozilla drops Firefox for Modern UI plans

Mozilla's plans for a Modern UI implementation of the Firefox web browser have been scrapped, with consumer disinterest being blamed.

The Mozilla Foundation has abandoned plans to release a version of its popular Firefox web browser for the Windows 8 Modern UI, just days before it was scheduled for release.

The dual personality nature of Windows 8 and its more recent successor Windows 8.1 splits the development experience in twain: applications are either written with the legacy Desktop in mind, or the new touch-centric Modern UI. While the legacy build of Firefox works just fine, the Foundation had planned to release a Modern UI version as well with the non-profit group's vice president Jonathan Nightingale claiming 'it looked like the next battleground for the web.'

Amid fears that third-party browsers would be locked out of the Modern UI entirely, Nightingale set up a development team in late 2012 to port Firefox to what was formerly known as the Metro UI. Now, after more than a year of development, that port is being canned just days before its planned release date.

'In the months since, as the team built and tested and refined the product, we’ve been watching Metro’s adoption. From what we can see, it’s pretty flat,' Nightingale explained in a formal blog post '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 1000 active daily users in the Metro environment.

'This leaves us with a hard choice. We could ship it, but it means doing so without much real-world testing. That’s going to mean lots of bugs discovered in the field, requiring a lot of follow up engineering, design, and QA effort. To ship it without doing that follow up work is not an option. If we release a product, we maintain it through end of life. When I talk about the need to pick our battles, this feels like a bad one to pick: significant investment and low impact.

'Instead, we pull it. This opens up the risk that Metro might take off tomorrow and we’d have to scramble to catch back up, but that’s a better risk for us to take than the real costs of investment in a platform our users have shown little sign of adopting,
' Nightingale concluded.

As with the company's other products, Firefox for the Modern UI is open-source, with the code remaining available on the official website for anyone who wants to pick up where Mozilla left off and develop the browser port themselves.

22 Comments

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Corky42 17th March 2014, 12:14 Quote
Windows 8 presents a dichotomy.
On one side we have the Modern UI that targets content consumers so is unlikely to attract the kind of people who are going to test pre-release software. On the other we have the traditional desktop that targets the more tech savvy user who maybe more willing to try pre-release software.

It must be difficult developing software for the Modern UI when your unpaid workforce of alpha/beta testers don't like using a GUI meant for content consumption.
GoodBytes 17th March 2014, 15:27 Quote
No Corky. Firefox for Modern UI was a complete half ass joke. Impossible to use.
-> It was extremely buggy
-> unresponsive, even on my gaming PC
-> No smooth scrolling
-> No access to your bookmarks
-> No add-ons support
-> No plugin support
-> Navigation was hard
-> web page rendering is not high DPI aware (I mean, that's like the first thing you should do. Cause most PC it targets to, are devices you want to use high DPI)
-> GUI animations are jerky
-> You have fight with it.
-> YouTube.com doesn't show HTML5 version of the player for some reason.

I tried my best to use it. But it's so bad, it's impossible to use. It's just is. I tried and tried, but could not. The only thing that they got right, is the pitch in zoom. That works great!
What's funny, is the desktop version is the total opposite. Everything works as you expect, but zooming is unresponsive, and acts like you are doing a keyboard Ctrl+[+] action once, or multiple times in a row, as you do 1 movement. You have to fight with it a bit.

Also, getting the Modern UI Firefox is near impossible to know about it, unless you do research. There is no link for it, no mention of it. In fact I stumbled upon it, because i was wondering if Mozilla had plans for an IE 11 Modern UI alternative.
If I didn't specifically search for that, I would get the NORMAL Aurora built, which does not have Modern UI Firefox.

It's ridiculous. And then you wonder why they complain?
Might as well have Apple going: "Yea. We are no longer making iPad's. We have this version of iPad in the works in our top secret facility, in prototype phase, and people aren't buying it, or using it. So no more iPads. "We have to pick our battles!"". This is just retarded. It's not even out yet, it's hidden very well, there is no mention that need testers, it's not even alpha in it's current stage, and to top things off, the market that is the most interested in it: those with Windows RT, can't enjoy it, because it's x86 only. AND it's not available on Windows 8 App Store. Granted that the Windows RT market is small. But the lack of quality apps, makes people be open to anything. And I am sure you would have plenty of people willing to help.

The whole thing is a disaster, and the only people they should be blaming is themselves, on this failure. Not Windows 8 users, not on Firefox users, and not Modern UI, in this case.
RedFlames 17th March 2014, 16:06 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by RedFlames
I would've used the metro mode of Firefox more... if it weren't for the fact it was completely and utterly irredeemably terrible [imo]... last time I used it was such a car crash I'm not surprised they quit while they were behind and binned it...

TBH The Firefox devs/Mozilla need to take a long hard look at themselves and what they're doing... This isn't the first feature they've made a complete balls-up of implementing... The metro mode of Firefox [as it was when i used it] was pretty much just an x86 port of fennec [Firefox for mobiles] bundled alongside the desktop version... They then tried to merge the two without any kind of plan or idea of what they wanted the end product to be...

From my experience testing the nightlies [before the dev's thought processe made me facepalm so hard I switched to Chrome] Mozilla need to get their head out of their arse, stop obsessing over what Google/Chromium project and MS are doing and actually make something that works, rather than giant cluster**** Firefox has become...
Corky42 17th March 2014, 17:18 Quote
Hey I'm not saying they made a good choice, or that the Modern UI version was any good. I'm just pointing out that when you only have feedback from 1k users versus 1M it's going to make you re-evaluate where you focus your resources.

TBH i don't see dropping development of Modern UI FF being something many people are going to lose sleep over, it's aimed at people who probably don't even know you can install other web browsers, people who think Microsoft's Internet Explorer is the Internet.

What worries me more is Mozilla deciding to go ahead with Australis, if people wanted a Chrome like browser they would install Chrome. It looks like I'm going to be sticking with FF28 for a long time.
Dave Lister 17th March 2014, 17:24 Quote
To be fair (which metro doesn't deserve), basic, simple folks who use metro are probably not the type of person who would be willing to be a beta tester and beta testers are probably the more tech savvy guys who are happy to beta test. So given that, the results are probably slightly skewed in favor of the normal desktop version showing more users.
dicobalt 18th March 2014, 02:21 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by
Funny, I installed Aurora on my Venue 8 Pro and the software refused to run in Modern UI. The icon to switch wasn't even there in the menu.
GoodBytes 18th March 2014, 02:41 Quote
You got the wrong Aurora... you see... it's ridiculous. You have to find the right "branch". I was not exaggerating.

If they didn't remove it, I think this is the link: http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/aurora/?utm_source=pr&utm_medium=blog&utm_campaign=aurorahttp://
RedFlames 18th March 2014, 03:33 Quote
Last I checked You have Firefox [Stable], Beta, Aurora and Nightly... Nightly is the trunk, it then branches off to become the 'Aurora' build[s], which then becomes the Beta, then Release

Then you have the odd off-shoot builds, 'UX' being the main one which is [or was] for testing out UX/UI changes... And the hourly 'Nightly' builds... not to be confused with the daily Nightly builds... or indeed the daily Aurora builds... or Holly, which is the Aurora build, but without 'Austalis' [new/update theme iirc]


... none of which is in any way, shape or form a confusing mess... noooo...
impar 18th March 2014, 10:49 Quote
Greetings!
Quote:
Originally Posted by RedFlames
... none of which is in any way, shape or form a confusing mess... noooo...
It really isnt. You only get the non-stable releases if you really want and know what you are looking for. An ordinary user just gets the stable release.
RedFlames 18th March 2014, 14:26 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by impar
Greetings!

It really isnt. You only get the non-stable releases if you really want and know what you are looking for. An ordinary user just gets the stable release.

True, but Mozilla were whining about no-one trying/testing the metro-mode, which would require you to use one of the non-stable builds... The point was they made no effort at all to point out which build[s] had it, the fact you had to turn it on, and how to turn it on...

As Goodbytes said, it'd be like Apple making a new product, locking it away in away in a warehouse, not advertising it, and then complaining no-one bought one...
GoodBytes 18th March 2014, 14:30 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by RedFlames

As nexxo said,
GoodBytes
RedFlames 18th March 2014, 15:18 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoodBytes
GoodBytes

oops... blonde moment on my part... corrected...
PCBuilderSven 18th March 2014, 19:03 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corky42
What worries me more is Mozilla deciding to go ahead with Australis, if people wanted a Chrome like browser they would install Chrome. It looks like I'm going to be sticking with FF28 for a long time.

Isn't Australis just a new GUI? In terms of GUI changes it doesn't even do much, all it's done is move a few buttons around. Does anyone actually care what their a browser looks like? If Mozilla wants to make their browser look like chrome, go ahead; they can make it look like IE 6 for all I care. As long as the interface is functional, what difference does what it looks life make?
PCBuilderSven 18th March 2014, 19:26 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by dicobalt

Funny, I installed Aurora on my Venue 8 Pro and the software refused to run in Modern UI. The icon to switch wasn't even there in the menu.

Was it set as the default browser? Was it a new version of Aurora (has it been removed from the newest version already? It's definitely there in 29.0a2.)
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoodBytes
You got the wrong Aurora... you see... it's ridiculous. You have to find the right "branch". I was not exaggerating.
It had been merged into the standard Aurora by now, that was only right at the beginning.
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoodBytes
No Corky. Firefox for Modern UI was a complete half ass joke. Impossible to use.
-> It was extremely buggy
-> unresponsive, even on my gaming PC
-> No smooth scrolling
-> No access to your bookmarks
-> No add-ons support
-> No plugin support
-> Navigation was hard
-> web page rendering is not high DPI aware (I mean, that's like the first thing you should do. Cause most PC it targets to, are devices you want to use high DPI)
-> GUI animations are jerky
-> You have fight with it.
-> YouTube.com doesn't show HTML5 version of the player for some reason.

Really? On the latest version of Aurora my tablet with a 1GHz dual core AMD processor ran it smoothly. Granted there were some bugs but that's to be expected on an Aurora build. I didn't find it difficult to use, perhaps it was specifically designed for touch screens making non-touch users have to fight with it (would make sense given it's target audience). If anything I found it running significantly better than the Modern UI version of IE. Are you sure you tested the latest version, if you're still using the special early version (not the standard Aurora) then I can very well believe it is completely unusable
GoodBytes 18th March 2014, 19:35 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by PCBuilderSven
Really? On the latest version of Aurora my tablet with a 1GHz dual core AMD processor ran it smoothly
Fire up IE11 Winbdows 8 App, and you'll see how it it will redefined 'smooth'
Quote:
Granted there were some bugs but that's to be expected on an Aurora build.
Yes., I agree. But that is why usual is low. Especially that it is really in your face bugs. But Mozilla think otherwise.

Quote:
I didn't find it difficult to use, perhaps it was specifically designed for touch screens making non-touch users have to fight with it (would make sense given it's target audience).
Surface Pro 2 can't more touch screen friendly then this. IE11 does a better job in terms of program navigation.

Quote:
If anything I found it running significantly better than the Modern UI version of IE. Are you sure you tested the latest version, if you're still using the special early version (not the standard Aurora) then I can very well believe it is completely unusable
Yes I am sure. I am on 29.0a2 (2014-03-17) on my desktop and Surface Pro 2.
impar 18th March 2014, 22:55 Quote
Greetings!
Quote:
Originally Posted by RedFlames
True, but Mozilla were whining about no-one trying/testing the metro-mode, which would require you to use one of the non-stable builds... The point was they made no effort at all to point out which build[s] had it, the fact you had to turn it on, and how to turn it on...
Quote:
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 1000 active daily users in the Metro environment.
https://blog.mozilla.org/futurereleases/2014/03/14/metro/
The ones who want a non-stable release (millions) had no trouble getting it. Problem was with the Metro release.
GoodBytes 18th March 2014, 22:59 Quote
It was never released.
RedFlames 18th March 2014, 23:30 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by impar
The ones who want a non-stable release (millions) had no trouble getting it. Problem was with the Metro release.

You're not getting it, the problem was the metro mode was a feature you had to actively turn on... a fact [along with the metro mode's very existence] which mozilla kept to themselves... people can't test a feature that's disabled or that they don't know about...

I only found about the metro mode because i stumbled across the bugzilla entry for it... and I was testing the nightly build for *years* prior to that, if the regular testers didn't know about it, what chance has joe blogs got?

The fact the Metro mode was unusable and utterly terrible is a completely separate topic... It could've been the best thing ever but mozilla hid it away, showed no interest in fixing it's faults, and rolled the fact no-one knew about it [a situation of their own making] as a pretty weak excuse to can a feature they didn't want to work on.
impar 18th March 2014, 23:43 Quote
Greetings!
Quote:
Originally Posted by RedFlames
You're not getting it, the problem was the metro mode was a feature you had to actively turn on... a fact [along with the metro mode's very existence] which mozilla kept to themselves...
:?
Didnt kept for themselves. It was in every tech site.
Quote:
Originally Posted by RedFlames
I only found about the metro mode because i stumbled across the bugzilla entry for it...
Dont you follow the Marmite thread?
http://forums.bit-tech.net/showpost.php?p=3180692&postcount=982
http://forums.bit-tech.net/showpost.php?p=3182105&postcount=991
Quote:
The installer is available right here, and Mozilla is encouraging folks to grab it and get testing. Among the features already in place are "a new Metro style Firefox Start page, support for Firefox Sync, Metro touch and swipe gestures, integration with Windows 8 'charms', and a simple but powerful Australis interface that is streamlined, modern, and beautiful."
RedFlames 19th March 2014, 00:09 Quote
What Mozilla said at the time, and what they went on and did are different things...

It was quietly disappeared/was disabled shortly after on 'stability' grounds... [I was using it at the time], when it resurfaced a little while later it bounced between being enabled, and enabled, but hidden away... and at no point did they even *try* and fix the many glaring problems it had...
impar 19th March 2014, 01:04 Quote
Greetings!

Priorities?
Why waste time with a failed platform?
impar 19th March 2014, 12:08 Quote
Greetings!

Some more on this from a Mozilla developer:
Quote:
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:
Quote:
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."

http://www.neowin.net/news/former-firefox-for-windows-8-developer-low-test-numbers-doesnt-mean-os-is-in-trouble
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