The beta of Firefox 28 that includes the touch-friendly variant for Windows 8.1 is available for general public. The final release is likely to release on March 18.
About two years ago, Mozilla started the development of Firefox for Windows 8.1, and now the first preview of the Windows 8 optimized Firefox browser has been released under the beta channel.
The browser – known as Firefox Metro so far – has been specifically designed for those users who use tablets, notebooks with touch and other compatible devices with Windows 8.1 for web browsing. The Firefox for Windows 8 Touch will be installed along with Firefox 28 Beta for desktop.
When you run the browser, it shows the most visited sites, bookmarks and browsing history on the start. Open tabs appear with a right click of the mouse or a swipe from top to bottom. At the bottom, you will see the Awesomebar that lets you interact via touch and gestures, including pinch-to-zoom and one-touch swipe navigation similar to Internet Explorer 11 for Windows 8.1.
The browser obviously follows the design guidelines of Windows 8.1 with an extensive use of tiles that speed up searching and browsing the web. Firefox also supports three different modes of Snap View. First, full (full screen app), snapped (reduced, display as a sidebar) and fill (occupying the space left by another app). The browser leverages the Share contract that allows users to share a Web page or other content.
Originally, the browser was supposed to be released on January 21, along with Firefox 27, but due to several unresolved bugs and other factors. Now Mozilla has plans to release the final release on March 18, along with Firefox 28.
The beta published yesterday on the company’s server, should incorporate almost all the features in the final version, even for those who use non-Windows operating systems.
Interestingly, the Firefox 28 Beta for desktop introduces support for the Gamepad API so that the user can connect a controller to play on the web; VP9 video and Opus in WebM. The last two new things are also available in the beta for Android.