Google and Mozilla Working on Metro-Enabled Browsers, Opera May Follow Suitby Andrew Cunningham on March 13, 2012 6:45 PM EST
Both Mozilla and Google have confirmed to various sources that they have begun (or are planning to begin) work on Metro-style versions of their Firefox and Chrome browsers for Windows 8. Google also mentioned that it would be tweaking the desktop version of Chrome to make it more touch-friendly on the platform. Opera wouldn't confirm that a touch-enabled version of its browser was in the works, but a spokesman for the company said they they were "currently looking into" it.
Mozilla's Brian Bondy shone some light on how browsers will work in Microsoft's next operating system - while most Metro and desktop apps will be developed and delivered independently of each other, Metro-enabled browsers will apparently be able to piggyback on the installer for the desktop version. They will also be less restricted by the sandbox imposed on most Metro-style apps, though Bondy wasn't sure whether this would affect their ability to be distributed through the Windows Store. Neither Bondy nor the Microsoft whitepaper on Metro-style browser development say whether Metro browsers will be able to use plug-ins like Flash, but given that IE can't while in Metro mode, it doesn't seem likely.
As we noted in our Windows 8 preview, the new operating system comes with both a Metro and a desktop version of Internet Explorer that use the same rendering engine but different interfaces, one optimized for touch and the other for mouse-and-keyboard. We also noted that the desktop and Metro could use different default browsers, and that the Metro version of IE was only accessible if it was set as the default browser - this limitation also apparently affects third-party browsers.
Metro has sometimes elicited negative reactions from longtime Windows users, but Mozilla and Google's early commitment to using the new interface may indicate at least some level of support among third-party developers.