Sometime later this year, Microsoft will release three version of its latest browser, Windows 8: plain old Windows 8 (for the average user), Windows 8 Pro (for committed geeks), and Windows RT (for use on ARM-based tablet computers). Windows RT, Microsoft has hinted, includes all the usual Microsoft standbys, including Word and Excel, but the whole ensemble will be controlled by a touch-centric interface.
Good news for tablet aficionados.
According to Mozilla, the makers of Firefox, Microsoft is planning to allow only one fully-functioning browser on Windows RT: Microsoft's own Internet Explorer. Writing on the Mozilla blog, Harvey Anderson, general counsel for the company, lashed out at Microsoft for the slight, and called the alleged move "an unwelcome return to the digital dark ages where users and developers didn’t have browser choices."
Why does this matter to users? Quite simply because Windows on ARM – as currently designed – restricts user choice, reduces competition and chills innovation. By allowing only IE to perform the advanced functions of a modern Web browser, third-party browsers are effectively excluded from the platform. This matters for users of today’s tablets and tomorrow’s PCs.
Of course, Firefox wouldn't be the only one excluded – Google's Chrome would be left out in the cold, too.
Unsurprisingly, Google has said in a statement that it "shares the concerns" raised by Mozilla. "We've always welcomed innovation in the browser space across all platforms and strongly believe that having great competitors makes us all work harder. In the end, consumers and developers benefit the most from robust competition," reps told CNET.
It's worth noting that Microsoft has not yet officially commented on the allegations from team Mozilla. Moreover, we're a few months out from the Windows 8 launch, so things could still change considerably.
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