It’s taking Mozilla longer than expected, but the first Aurora (pre-beta) Windows 8-style version of Firefox is ready for download. And even though the final version won’t be available until 2014, this test-only build packs some interesting features.
The new Metro version of Firefox aims to be the first real alternative to the modern version of Internet Explorer. At first glance, to my surprise, the open source software looks pretty identical to IE 10 for Windows 8, but of course with the Firefox distinct colors. One element that people will notice right-away is the back button and the New tab page on either side of the screen, which by the way they do get in the way of content, despite you can drag them up or down to get them out-of-the-way.
Also the tab page is really interesting, a difference from Internet Explorer, which shows an empty page, the Metro version of Firefox has three sections: a list of your top sites, a short list of your bookmarks, and recent history, which in my opinion is very handy.
In this Aurora release the address bar is located at the bottom of the screen and open tabs are at the top of the screen, again just like IE 10. Next to the address bar you’ll find the navigation buttons and on the right there are four buttons: Download, Favorite, Pin to Start, and menu.
Using the +i keyboard shortcut will bring up the Firefox Settings menu. In the Option’s section the web browser offers ability to restore the last session every time you close the browser, you can also clear private data, and change the Do Not Track settings. Additionally the Mozilla team has integrated sync and share integration, and support for WebGL and hardware accelerated HTML5 video.
I know, this is a pre-beta version as such problems, bugs, and even design can have issues. I’m sure Mozilla will improve the software over the course of time, even before the final release. Other things I’ve noticed is that scrolling web pages isn’t as smooth as IE 11 and there are some rendering problems in some websites.
It’s important to note and perhaps this is a deal breaker for many users, is that the Metro version of Firefox is only available for Windows 8 and not for Windows RT, because of Microsoft’s web browser restrictions.
Bottom line is that at least we can now look forward to an alternative software to browse the internet, which is also optimized for touch-enabled devices. At this stage bugs and other problems are expected, so make sure you understand all the facts before installing the pre-beta version of Firefox.