Mozilla today announced it is abandoning the Metro version of its Firefox browser, before the first release for Windows 8 even sees the light of day. Firefox Vice President Johnathan Nightingale ordered the company’s engineering leads and release managers to halt development earlier this week, saying that shipping a 1.0 version “would be a mistake.”
Mozilla says it simply does not have the resources nor the scale of its competitors, and it has to pick its battles. The Metro platform (which has since been renamed to Modern UI, but many prefer the older name) simply doesn’t help the organization achieve its mission as well as other platforms Firefox is available for: Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android.
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Unfortunately, Nightingale says that as the team built, tested, and refined the product, Metro’s adoption has remained “pretty flat” and that Mozilla should focus its efforts “in places where we can reach more people.” While millions of people test pre-release versions of Firefox desktop on any given day, he notes the company has “never seen more than 1000 active daily users in the Metro environment.”
As a result, he pulled the plug:
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.
Nightingale notes that Metro could indeed take off one day, but he would rather play catch up than invest in a platform Firefox users “have shown little sign of adopting.” Since Mozilla is all about open source, the code will still be available.
Mozilla first noted a Metro version of Firefox was coming back in February 2012 and revealed a prototype in April 2012. The company then showed off a pre-release of Firefox for Windows 8 in October 2012 and offered a Nightly build in February 2013.
Cancelled launch dates have included December 10, 2013, February 4, 2014, and March 18, 2014. The regular delays should have been a hint: Metro just hasn’t worked out for Mozilla.
Top Image Credit: Andreas Krappweis