Mozilla, Google bemoan Windows RT browser lockdown

The ARM version of Windows 8 (a.k.a. Windows RT) is meant to feature both the Metro and Desktop environments, and in Microsoft’s words, it’s supposed to "feel just like using Windows 8 on x86/64." But there might be one teeny little difference. According to Mozilla, Windows RT won’t support browsers other than IE in Desktop mode:

It’s reported that Windows RT (the name Microsoft has given to Windows running on the ARM processor) will have two environments, a Windows Classic environment and a Metro environment for apps. However, Windows on ARM prohibits any browser except for Internet Explorer from running in the privileged “Windows Classic” environment. In practice, this means that only Internet Explorer will be able to perform many of the advanced computing functions vital to modern browsers in terms of speed, stability, and security to which users have grown accustomed. Given that IE can run in Windows on ARM, there is no technical reason to conclude other browsers can’t do the same.

Mozilla is understandably unhappy about the restriction. It claims Windows RT "restricts user choice, reduces competition and chills innovation," and it adds that the lockdown "may also have antitrust implications." Turns out that the blog post decrying the restriction was written by Mozilla’s General Counsel, Harvey Anderson. Ouch.

According to CNet News, it’s not just Mozilla that’s miffed—Google is, too. Here’s the search giant’s statement on the subject:

We share the concerns Mozilla has raised regarding the Windows 8 environment restricting user choice and innovation. We’ve always welcomed innovation in the browser space across all platforms and strongly believe that having great competitors makes us all work harder. In the end, consumers and developers benefit the most from robust competition.

I don’t know how much sway Mozilla and Google have over the Windows team’s decisions, but I do hope Microsoft lets up. I love the idea of having a full version of Windows running on an ARM devices. I think the experience would be marred by arbitrary restrictions like this one, though.

Comments closed
    • cjb110
    • 7 years ago

    Sorry this makes no sense at all.

    Microsoft are releasing an tablet OS version, with apps and a underlying framework for third parties to code more apps.

    How is this different from Android or IOS? Nothing is stopping Mozilla or Google coding a browser using the framework provided.

    So it has different and more restrictions than their desktop OS, and oh wow, so does IOS and OSX.

    Really what are they whinging about? Are they worried everybody’s going to stop buying ipads and androids??

      • internetsandman
      • 7 years ago

      IIRC, both android and iOS have different browsers available for download in their respective app stores, and many apps which serve different functions also come with built in browsers that, while not as fully fleshed out as their big name counterparts, still provide web browsing without the need to switch back to the default web browser

      Microsofts decision is completely arbitrary and all they’re doing is hurting everyone involved, including themselves, by stifling competition and limiting user experience. This is a typical example of a company who has realized it can’t compete with the market, so it uses it’s size and power to simply prevent its competitors from competing instead of doing what it’s supposed to do and actually compete (and lose, hopefully :P)

    • christopher3393
    • 7 years ago

    ” I think the experience would be marred by arbitrary restrictions like this one, though.”

    I completely agree, Cyril.

    • albundy
    • 7 years ago

    Well then, may it have as much success as Casey Anthony! (kill your product and have the indecency to move on)

    But seriously, they say that on paper, but there WILL be work-arounds.

    • axeman
    • 7 years ago

    I think if Microsoft thinks Windows RT is going to gain any marketshare over iOS or Android tablets at this point, they’re dreaming anyhow. So, meh….

    • blastdoor
    • 7 years ago

    The big problem with WinRT is going to be the dearth of software. Windows desktop software might not be well suited to a tablet, but it’s better than no software at all, which is where RT will be (except for Office and whatever apps MS bribes 3rd parties to write).

    I wonder if the only purpose of WinRT was to light a fire under Intel, and now that Atom is more competitive with ARM, WinRT will just fade away. Kind of like Windows NT for PPC and Alpha back in the day.

    • Celess
    • 7 years ago

    Actually this sounds fair, in a way. Google has their own arm based computer that only runs chrome. I think thats going to be a fun show in court. This is probably why they are “bemouning” instead of keeping mouths shut preparing for court.

    [quote<]We share the concerns Mozilla has raised regarding the Windows 8 environment restricting user choice and innovation. We've always welcomed innovation in the browser space across all platforms and strongly believe that having great competitors makes us all work harder. In the end, consumers and developers benefit the most from robust competition. [/quote<] From the chromebook support site: [quote<]No. It's not possible to install or run any other browser on a Chromebook, because you can't run client software on it. The Chrome operating system runs Chrome only.[/quote<] Either way, as others have said, ARM Win8 is about Metro, that it has "classic mode" at all is very cool.

      • Celess
      • 7 years ago

      This is also funny, in my opinion:

      From wikipedia:
      [quote<]the Mozilla Corporation is a tax-paying entity, which gives it much greater freedom in the revenue and business activities it can pursue. The majority of the revenues comes from Google Inc., which is the default search engine on Mozilla Firefox.[/quote<] Sort of like having two accounts in chat.... "We share the concerns Mozilla has raised..."

        • BobbinThreadbare
        • 7 years ago

        They get paid anytime anyone uses a the search box with one of the searches that come preinstalled.

        Google is just the most popular.

    • bcronce
    • 7 years ago

    Windows RT explicitly states that only Metro apps can be installed. This means Firefox cannot be installed as a desktop app. I don’t see what’s so complicated about this.

    IE is installed as the only desktop browsers because the desktop is not meant to be used in Windows RT except for extreme cases like system recovery/etc.

    Everyone is just taking it out of context and blowing it up into some sort of conspiracy.

    OMG, WinXP/Win7 won’t allow my application to be installed in safe mode, Monopoly!!!!!!

      • moog
      • 7 years ago
      • Shadin
      • 7 years ago

      This sums it up perfectly. I’m surprised Mozilla and Google are allowing themselves to look so ridiculous in their responses. There’s nothing stopping them from making Metro versions of their browsers, which is the intended interface for RT.

    • chuckula
    • 7 years ago

    This right here is why ARM notebooks are not going to be supplanting anything from Intel anytime soon. When you can’t even get third-party web browsers running in the “Metro” space, you are SoL for getting widespread adoption. The tablets are another story, but even there why not just use Android if MS is going to be so restrictive?

      • NeelyCam
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<]When you can't even get third-party web browsers running in the "Metro" space, you are SoL for getting widespread adoption.[/quote<] The article is talking about Desktop mode.

        • Narishma
        • 7 years ago

        I think that’s what he meant to say. Just replace “Metro” with “Desktop”.

        • sweatshopking
        • 7 years ago

        they can still make metro browsers. pretty much NOTHING will work in desktop mode on Arm

    • Ricardo Dawkins
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<]"I don't know how much sway Mozilla and Google have over the Windows team's decisions, but I do hope Microsoft lets up."[/quote<] Can Google start opening their Youtube APIs for Windows Phone? [quote<]"I love the idea of having a full version of Windows running on an ARM devices. I think the experience would be marred by arbitrary restrictions like this one, though."[/quote<] WinRT (Windows on ARM) is not the full Windows you (and Google) expect and the guidelines/rules for it were released eons ago (ie: no access to native code for Windows Classic). Why complain now? Oh..those Android tablets are not selling so well... is that the issue, Google? So much for the -Tech- report

    • Thorburn
    • 7 years ago

    This isn’t unique to browsers, Microsoft said last year that the only way to load apps to ARM devices would be the Windows Store and that they wouldn’t be allowing desktop applications for ARM on there.

      • Ricardo Dawkins
      • 7 years ago

      Exactly. They said it eons ago (in tech world years).

      • sweatshopking
      • 7 years ago

      yeah, i’m wondering why this is a surprise.

    • barich
    • 7 years ago

    I don’t see the big deal. Why would you use the desktop on an ARM tablet? It’s going to be as miserable a touch experience as Windows 7 currently is. As far as I know, pretty much the only desktop apps on Windows RT are going to be those built in to Windows and Office, anyway. And in Metro, you can use whatever browser you want.

    • Ricardo Dawkins
    • 7 years ago

    What is next….?
    Apple asking Microsoft to open the API so they can make iTunes for WinRT…(edit: APIs for Windows Classic. They are free to make a Metro version if they dare.)

    Hey, Google …those Windows Phone users…yeah those 6 souls are waiting for you to open the Youtube API so Microsoft can build a proper client for their mobile OS. Can you help them?

      • bthylafh
      • 7 years ago

      You appear to have sand in your vagina, sir.

        • Ricardo Dawkins
        • 7 years ago

        How can I have sand in my vagina if you call me “Sir” ? Terrible joke.

        Anyway…Google and Mozilla.. start your complains
        [url<]http://www.theverge.com/2012/5/10/3012013/internet-explorer-browser-xbox-360-kinect[/url<]

        • plasticplate
        • 7 years ago

        And u appear to have sand in your head instead of brains. No one really cares when google doesnt open their youtube API for MS (And yes, i have a WP7 too), but shit hits the fan when MS doesnt give Google API to Win RT. What gives. I mean, WP7 has been out for almost 2 years now and Win RT isnt even out yet..

          • Ricardo Dawkins
          • 7 years ago

          Lets view this from another perspective…
          Win RT has as much marketshare as Windows Phone (ie: 0%). What if Microsoft made Windows Phone their tablet OS as many clowns in the press and tech pundits wanted quite a few months ago (and many do still want it)

          Do you think that there would be complains from Google & Mozilla that MSFT doesn’t allow native code development for their browser engines in Windows Phone?

          Google..dont be evil.

    • Deanjo
    • 7 years ago

    I chuckle as I read this from Opera on iOS.

      • BobbinThreadbare
      • 7 years ago

      On Android you can use the built in browser, Firefox, Opera Mini, or Opera Mobile all for free and you can set any of them as the default browser.

        • Deanjo
        • 7 years ago

        Can you run Safari?

          • BobbinThreadbare
          • 7 years ago

          If Apple cared an Android version they were be nothing stopping it.

          • d0g_p00p
          • 7 years ago

          Why would you want to? Safari is a horrible web browser.

            • pikaporeon
            • 7 years ago

            Damn them webkits!

            • Deanjo
            • 7 years ago

            Same question goes for FF. Why would you want to run FF? FF in anything other then Windows is buggy as sh**.

            • BobbinThreadbare
            • 7 years ago

            FF had the best interface of any mobile browser when I tested it.

            However, more than 3 tabs open and my phone usually ran out of memory. Which isn’t good.

            • indeego
            • 7 years ago

            Works fine on Android. I run it because it syncs everything, and I prefer moz on the desktop/laptop/tablet. Has more features and plug-ins than Android’s Browser, however it’s quite slow on anything older than 6-months tech.

          • Meadows
          • 7 years ago

          Who even does that?

            • Squeazle
            • 7 years ago

            Apparently he doesn’t.

      • Arag0n
      • 7 years ago

      Opera for iOS isn’t more than a branded Safari render with Opera add-ons as tab sync and markers for your desktop opera. Google and Mozilla can do the very same thing for WinRT. And as well as in iOS, you can’t use third parties as default.

      • crabjokeman
      • 7 years ago

      You’re a tool.
      [SARCASM]Apple has always been known for its openness and its friendly stance towards 3rd-party apps…[/SARCASM]

    • MadManOriginal
    • 7 years ago

    Unless there are ARM desktops or laptops I don’t see the big deal. Other browsers will still be able to run in Metro mode which is what the vast majority of touchscreen device users will use.

    • boing
    • 7 years ago

    I thought at first it said Windows NT. 🙂

    • jjj
    • 7 years ago

    Microsoft’s ability to spend heaps of cash on advertising only to negate any and all benefits with moves like this is astonishing.

      • lilbuddhaman
      • 7 years ago

      The mass majority of users will stay with metro, and won’t know the better…

        • Farting Bob
        • 7 years ago

        Considering the ARM version is aimed at touchscreens, metro seems the better option for them. You shouldnt be using a tablet to make spreadsheets or do complex, demanding work.

          • NeelyCam
          • 7 years ago

          ARM tablet is a toy.
          X86 Ultrabook is a productivity tool

            • Chrispy_
            • 7 years ago

            x86 Ultrabooks will be running a toy interface in the context of this discussion, so that’s a moot point.

    • gmskking
    • 7 years ago

    Windows 8, what’s that?

      • sonofsanta
      • 7 years ago

      It was my idea.

    • Philldoe
    • 7 years ago

    Well then it’s a good thing I plan to stick with Win7.

      • 5150
      • 7 years ago

      Oh, you’re going to keep running Windows 7 on your ARM-based device? RTFA

        • BobbinThreadbare
        • 7 years ago

        WP7 exists 😉

          • derFunkenstein
          • 7 years ago

          and you get little to no choice when MS discontinues Windows Phone 7. Also, OTA updates.

            • sweatshopking
            • 7 years ago

            and you get the same choice when MS changes Windows Phone 7 into windows 8.*

            there fixed it for you.

        • Philldoe
        • 7 years ago

        HAHAH I feel like a dufus 😛

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