Mozilla, Google commit to Metro browsers for Windows 8

Microsoft's IE10 has five-month head start; documentation on hybrid desktop-Metro browsers only showed up Feb. 29

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In a comment he posted last week on ZDNet's "The Ed Bott Report" blog, Dotzler was more specific about timing. "I do not anticipate that we will get beyond a late stage Beta this year," Dotzler said there.

Today, Dotzler confirmed that, "[This] is an accurate picture of our current thinking..., [but] that may change as we progress."

Google also said it would build a Metro-enabled version of its Chrome browser for Windows 8, but did not spell out a development timeline.

"Our goal is to be able to offer our users a speedy, simple, secure Chrome experience across all platforms, which includes both the desktop and Metro versions of Windows 8," a Google spokesman said yesterday. "To that end we're in the process of building a Metro version of Chrome along with improving desktop Chrome in Windows 8, such as adding enhanced touch support."

Norwegian browser maker Opera Software stopped just short of making the same promise.

"We can't comment on any specifics yet, other than [that] we are currently looking into Windows 8," said an Opera spokesman today. "The new OS and the Metro UI offers an interesting new platform and we know users will want to run Opera on it."

Apple does not comment on future products, but it's unlikely the Cupertino, Calif. company will rush to support Windows 8: Although Apple launched Safari for Windows nearly five years ago, almost all Safari users run it on Mac OS X.

Al Hilwa, an analyst with IDC, applauded Microsoft for letting other browser developers compete on Windows 8's Metro UI. But he acknowledged that it may have been motivated by antitrust concerns.

"Given the history of Microsoft's travails with DOJ and EU, it is smart for them to open up the browser environment," said Hilwa, referring to the scrutiny Microsoft has faced from regulators in the U.S. and the European Union. "[And] a higher level of openness may prove to be an important point of differentiation for Windows 8 compared to Apple's [iOS] platform."

In 2009, Microsoft agreed to offer a browser choice ballot in Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 to European users after Opera complained to EU's antitrust commission that Microsoft was using Windows' dominance to shield Internet Explorer from competition.

The ballot offers users download links for other browsers.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

See more by Gregg Keizer on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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