Google, Mozilla Prep Browsers For Windows 8 Metro Mode

Google and Mozilla are developing versions of their Chrome and Firefox browsers, respectively, that will support the Windows 8 Metro user interface, giving users an alternative to Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser.

Microsoft, meanwhile, posted a lengthy article on the Building Windows 8 blog this week highlighting the capabilities of Internet Explorer 10, the next generation of the Microsoft browser that will work with Windows 8 and its Metro UI.

Windows 8, which is widely expected to be available later this year, will offer the Metro interface largely for touch-screen tablet devices, along with a more traditional interface for desktop PCs. Microsoft began offering a consumer preview release of Windows 8 on Feb. 29.

[Related: Windows 8 Beta: The Good, The Bad, And The Confusing ]

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Mozilla developers have just begun their Firefox Metro development efforts, according to a blog post by Brian Bondy, a Firefox platform engineer. The blog doesn't offer a timetable for releasing a Metro-compatible version of Firefox, however. "We're still extremely early in development, so we're not ready for help with things like how the UI should look yet," Bondy wrote.

"The Firefox Metro enabled desktop browser can be, and will be, included and packaged in the traditional way," Bondy said. But he added that he wasn't sure whether it would be available through the online Windows store Microsoft is developing for Windows 8 applications.

"Unfortunately a browser can only participate in Metro mode if it is the default browser," he added. "So if Firefox is not the default browser on a system, you can't use it in Metro mode. This is a decision made by Microsoft."

Google, meanwhile, is working on a version of Chrome that will run in the Windows 8 Metro environment, according to a story on Mashable. That browser, based on the desktop version of Chrome rather than the Android-based version, also will support both the Windows 8 desktop and Metro interfaces.

"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 spokesperson told Mashable. "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."

Microsoft, meanwhile, continues to develop IE10 "in lockstep" with Windows 8, according to a post on the Building Windows 8 blog this week by Rob Mauceri, group program manager for Internet Explorer.

"We built a new browsing experience in lockstep with Windows 8 to give you all the advantages that Metro-style applications offer," Mauceri wrote in the post. "We built that experience by extending IE’s underlying architecture to provide a fast, fully hardware accelerated browsing engine with strong security and support for HTML5 and other Web standards."

The blog offers a number of screen shots and a video demonstration of IE10 running on Windows 8.