Mozilla and Google cry foul over Microsoft policy regarding browsers on Windows RT

Ever since Microsoft announced a version of Windows 8 on ARM architecture (Windows RT), there has been a lot of confusion over the two separate desktop and metro environments. Weirdly, the two environments even have two different versions of Internet Explorer. What’s worse, on Windows RT for ARM chips, Microsoft will not allow third parties to develop applications for the desktop mode. And here is where Mozilla and Google have come out against Microsoft for not allowing desktop versions of their popular web browsers.

Earlier in the day Mozilla said that it had been locked out of the desktop environment (non-Metro UI) in Windows RT and its Metro style app would not support third party plugins in Metro mode. Then things became further heated when Mozilla attorney Harvey Anderson told CNET, “sometimes they need some pressure. If it turns out to be legal pressure, that could be the thing.”

Later in the day Google also came out in support for Mozilla’s stance on the issue. In a statement to CNET the company said, “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.”

The main drama around the Windows RT situation is that third parties are only allowed to develop Internet browsers in the Metro environment, which does not support extensions. Users won’t have a choice when it comes to Internet browsers in the desktop mode and will have to stick solely to Internet Explorer.

As many will remember, in the 90’s Microsoft started bundling Internet Explorer with Windows 95, which led to Netscape being pushed out of the browser game. This of course led to the famous DoJ hearings where Bill Gate was questioned quite publicly. This eventually forced Microsoft to give options to the users for third party browsers on Windows, but by that time Netscape was long out of the game. Having said that, the DoJ ruling expired on May 6, 2011, which understandably sends shivers down companies like Mozilla whose bread and butter is the Firefox browser.


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