It’s been certainly a long time, but today latest beta release of Firefox finally brings the “Windows 8 Touch” version of the web browser to everyone using a PC. Now Firefox users can get access to an easy to use version of the open source internet software optimized for Windows 8.1 touch gestures — just like what you can do with the modern version of Internet Explorer and with Chrome.
Firefox for Windows 8 Touch still half-baked, but the early version isn’t bad. Once you install the web browser, you can simply go to the Firefox button and click the “Relaunch on Firefox for Windows 8 Touch” option to start the Windows 8-style (Metro) version of the browser. The user-interface is tile-based and simple, by opening a new tab you’ll get your Top Sites, Bookmarks, and Recent History. The address bar is located at the bottom of the screen and new tabs are visible at the top, and two buttons on the side: back button (left) and new tab (right) for easy navigation.
Other features included in this early build includes touch and swipe gestures like pinch-to-zoom and one-touch swipe transitions. Windows Snap view is also supported, big tiles throughout makes the experience better because elements are easy to recognize and tap. Windows Share also works, so you can connect via email or social network.
In non-touch devices the new Firefox for Windows 8 Touch works too and upgrading to the latest beta will get you a few new improvements such as gamepad support and VP9 video playback.
Long way to match Internet Explorer
For the longest time Firefox has been the Internet Explorer alternative web browser and many can argue that it’s a better software than IE, but in my experience, at least for the Metro version of Firefox, still a long way to be a superior experience. You’ll notice this is the first to launch Firefox in the new Metro UI, website rendering is a bit slow, scrolling is laggy, you cannot start a new tab in a new window, and options are very limited. If you ask me this new Windows 8-style version of Firefox looks exactly the same as the first version of Internet Explorer for Windows 8.
Of course over time new features and improvements will be added, but if I have to choose, right now I think I prefer the modern version of IE as you have a better access to tabs at the bottom, you can open new tabs in new windows and view multiple pages side-by-side, pages loading is much faster; the address bar can give you instant answers to questions like weather, stock information, and search results, something that Firefox’s Awesome Bar currently doesn’t do.
You can download the latest Firefox beta here.