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Mozilla Teases Windows 8 Metro Firefox with Screenshots

Instead of having tabs at the top of the screen, Metro-style Firefox may use a sidebar, with thumbnail images for each tab.

Mozilla is showing off some early glimpses of Metro-style Firefox, after announcing last month that it was bringing the browser to Windows 8.

The screenshots, posted on the blog of Mozilla developer Brian Bondy, show a prototype Firefox browser with a one-line user interface bar across the top of the screen. Instead of having tabs at the top of the screen, Metro-style Firefox may use a sidebar, with thumbnail images for each tab.

Mozilla has already integrated some of Windows 8's core features into the prototype. For example, when using the Search Charm in Windows 8, users can click on Firefox under the application list to search the Web with their default search engine. With the Share Charm, users can share Web pages through Facebook, Twitter or e-mail. The Metro interface's file picker has also been integrated with the prototype, along with the "Snap" feature that lets users run two apps side-by-side.

For the prototype, Mozilla used the same Fennec XUL code that it originally used in its Android browser. Mozilla eventually switched to a native user interface for Android because of issues with startup performance, but Bondy said the team hasn't run into those issues on Windows 8. The team still has some design questions to figure out, and a lot of platform integration work to do, Bondy wrote.

Mozilla isn't the only company working on a Metro-style browser for Windows 8. Google has also confirmed that it's developing Chrome for the desktop and for Metro.

As Bondy explains, third-party browsers will have special classification in Windows 8, allowing them to work in both the desktop and Metro-style interfaces. However, a browser's Metro-style version will only be available if the browser is set as the default. Otherwise, only the desktop version will be available.

"Even if a user spends most of their time in the Desktop interface, having a really good Metro browser may be enough for the user to change their default browser," Bondy wrote. "A browser with great Metro support can gain significant browser market share for this reason."

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