Is Microsoft Planning To Limit Your Browser Choice On Windows 8 Tablets?

If you're used to freely choosing which browser you use in Windows, brace yourself: Mozilla is claiming that Microsoft is planning to limit user choice for browsers on tablets running Windows 8.

Also: Can Windows 8 Tablets Succeed Where Android Has Faltered?

In a blog post, Mozilla explains that, on ARM-based devices, the only browser that will be allowed to run in Windows Classic mode will be Microsoft's own Internet Explorer. No Firefox, no Chrome.

What's weird is that it will be possible to use third-party browsers in the snazzy new Metro mode, just not in the classic Windows mode. Microsoft attorney David Heiner has explained that the company isn't allowing other browsers because of the security and power needs of the ARM chips — which, apparently, only Microsoft can properly address. In Metro mode, at least.

All of which sounds rather dubious, and is reminiscent of Microsoft's wranglings with the Department of Justice over monopolizing the browser market way back in the nineties.

Mozilla's general counsel Harvey Anderson explained to CNET that "sometimes [Microsoft] need some pressure... If it turns out to be legal pressure, that could be the thing." Whatever works, Harvey. Whatever works. [CNET via Wall Street Journal]

Update: Turns out Google isn't happy, either, and has announced that it shares Mozilla's concerns.



    hmm, i was actually really keen on a arm tablet... not so much if thatd be the case

      Why? IE10 Metro will probably be better than a Metro Chrome or FF

        How the hell could you possibly know that? This mentality is flawed precisely because it assumes all consumers want the exact same thing. While IE10 might be superior for you, don't presume to speak for millions of other users. Indeed, even with across-the-board superiority, we deserve the right to make such a choice for ourselves, instead of MS saying "No. You use what we tell you to use."

        This strikes me as an incredibly self-serving choice from MS. Internet usage on Windows 7 was fine, not because you were forced to use IE, but because you had a choice to use what you wanted from Firefox, Chrome or the built-in option if you wanted.

          Yea um.. alright calm down? I see no reason to get your panties in a knot.

          Don't get Windows 8 if you're so bothered by it. Chances are it will probably be allowed.

          Steve. While I think it's a crappy decision, I think we need to back off the whole "I have the right!" thing. You have the right to buy whatever you want to buy. If you don't like the product, don't buy it. MS has the right to make their product the way they want it.

            Actually - the whole browser wars started purely because the US and EU governments ruled it was anti-trust and anti-competitive.

            Theres no way this is true, its pure bullshit. Microsoft were told specifically to allow any browser to run on the OS and for their own IE to come 'unbundled' with the software - so you can uninstall it if you dont wish to use it. They've done that, they wont recant because they flat out cant.

            They're not stupid.

              I like how the iPad barely has other browsers (ie: no big ones like IE, FF, or Chrome), yet no one complains.

        You either work for Microsoft, or you're brain is full of mostly dead brain cells. You MUST be kidding, or very very very ignorant.... or.... just very stupid... one of those... have you tried Chrome lately? Microsoft will take years to catch up to Chrome, and by then, Chrome will be lightyears aheaf of IE, they will never catch up to the speed and quality that is Google Chrome... Firefox is also WAY ahead of IE, and the way Microsoft tends to sh*t on web developers and their users, it's not likely that IE will be better than Chrome or FF in on Windows tablet, even if Microsoft has 3 years head start with IE....

        You should use your brain next time you decide to give an opinion... But good try kid.

          I dont think answering with hyperbole is useful.

          IE9 works. It may not be as good as firefox or chrome but for the majority of web users, they would not care. I don't use firefox because it tends to crash, even v12 which im using. IE9 i use for work, such as OWA.

          We dont have the final release for IE 10 and until we do, i would reserve judgement of it.

    Apple. The App store. Same story.

    I thought that -no- non-Microsoft applications were going to run on desktop mode. Browsers are hardly being singled out in that case.

      This was my first thought. Sensationalist headline really walking a fine line here - MS is not doing anything it hasn't said it would do, namely providing desktop mode for a very limited number of applications.

      Metro is a great design aesthetic for touch anyway, and what I got from this is that if you want FF or Chrome on your Windows 8 RT machine you'll have to get the Metro version. Ho-hum, nothing to see here.

      Let's not forget that this news only seems to apply to Win8 RT - the ARM version which is understandably more locked-down than the x86 version. I suspect that your desktop browsers will work just fine in desktop mode on an x86 machine.

        That is correct. I am currently typing this in Firefox 12.0 on Win8.

        Exactly right. This is isnt true, I keep Chrome (its the W7 version because Google needs to HTFU) installed for the odd case where IE10 doesnt work (which during a beta cant be anything but expected) on my W8 Notebook.

        IE10 is very good, id be surprised if google or mozilla can manage to develop a decent browser experience compared to IE10 for metro.

    And now google is sharing the same concern, well if they dont allow Windows phone to access the youtube database like andriod and IOS 5, then they have no right to be concern, they refused to microsoft, now they have to pay the price.

    Why would you want to browse on a tablet in classic mode? I thought the only apps classic mode was there to support was Microsoft office.
    It's not like microsoft have said "No Firefox or Chrome in classic mode on the full editions of the OS, just the arm edition.

    And its not like Microsoft are saying "there shall be no other browser on our tablets than IE". You can still use metrofied versions of Chrome and Firefox on the tablet.
    This, to me, smacks of developers not wanting to port their code to a new platform.

    What a whinge. People who buy Windows RT tablets are going to be using Metro as much as possible - the desktop is really only an 'app' for legacy-style file management. Since applications can't be installed on the desktop at all, it will be used in a fundamentally different way.

    For those who want the full PC experience the way they're used to it... get an x86 model.

    In the end, all browsers do the same damn thing. People not buying a W8 tablet because it doesn't run firefox are nothing but fanboy's that think theirs is better than others. It's just a bloody internet browser. You see comparisons of browsers where IE is like a second slower, but does it really matter? I guess if you're downloading porn in your parents house, every second counts incase they walk into your room...

    As long as the default homepage isn't locked to Bing, I don't care. As people are saying this is for the classic view only. Le meh.

    Boo fucking hoo. Where's the article crying and claiming mozilla needs to sue Apple because you can't change the default browser on the iPad?

    I'm sick of windows being held back by third parties who rely on the old faulty less secure way it used to work. These third parties need to adapt or die, because if they keep holding Microsoft back from adapting Windows will start losing marketshare.

    So whats the difference to how Apple handles the Web Browser on the iPhone/iPad's? There is only 1 actual browser on that platform.... the rest of the "browsers" are restricted to using the Safari backend anyway.

    im concerned about the people claiming to be writing their comments from windows 8, because they clearly didnt read the article, which says ARM devices, which are tablets, not laptops, and i think its perfectly reasonable to limit such a thing on ARM based tablets, mobile devices like that are supposed to be simplistic to use and low on power usage etc. and theres no better way to do that then to limit certain aspects of the software, or have several thousand people complaining because "chrome runs our battery down too much, please fix your tablet" or the like

    I was planning on buying a Microsoft tablet when they come out, but if I can't choose a different browser to use(that has full capabilities)... then I will end up with an Android Tablet. Microsoft is going to screw themselves with this.

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