Microsoft under heavy fire for Windows 8 browser blockade

Posted by Trent Nouveau



Microsoft has come under heavy fire from Mozilla for allegedly blocking third-party browsers from operating in Windows 8 (RT-ARM) Classic mode.



"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," Mozilla General Counsel Harvey Anderson wrote in an official blog post.

Microsoft under heavy fire for Windows 8 browser blockade

"Given that IE can run in Windows on ARM, there is no technical reason to conclude other browsers can't do the same. By allowing only IE to perform the advanced functions of a modern Web browser, third-party browsers are effectively excluded from the platform. This matters for users of today's tablets and tomorrow's PCs."



According to Anderson, the prospect that the next generation of Windows on ARM devices would limit users to one browser is Classic mode (but not Metro) is "untenable" and represents a first step toward a new platform lock-in.

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It doesn't have to be this way. We encourage Microsoft to remain firm on its user choice principles and reject the temptation to pursue a closed path. The world doesn't need another closed proprietary environment and Microsoft has the chance to be so much more," he added.

Unsurprisingly, Microsoft's decision to blockade third-party browsers in RT Classic mode (but not Metro) also sparked concern in Mountain View, with Google issuing the following statement: 



"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."


Unlike its predecessor Windows 7, Windows 8 has been "re-imagined from the chipset to the user experience." As such, the latest iteration of Microsoft's flagship OS features a Metro interface designed for mobile touchscreen devices, while offering support for RISC-based ARM processors, in addition to x86 chips from Intel and AMD.