Why Is Microsoft Trying to Hobble Firefox on Windows 8 Tablets - and Why Does It Matter?

Information
2012-May-10 | Tags: analysisappscompatibilitysecurity

Windows on ARMAs Windows 8 approaches, Mozilla developers have been working hard on a Metro version. If you're using Windows 8 on the desktop, no problem. Tablet users, however, are going to be denied a fully functional Firefox - and will face restrictions on many other third-party applications. In the name of security, Microsoft is forcing them into a "sandbox" on ARM devices. The lockdown renegs on the company's prior promises, and it's going to have some far-reaching effects on many applications.


Mozilla's Asa Dotzler touched on this issue yesterday, saying that Microsoft "is trying to lock out competing browsers when it comes to Windows running on ARM chips." But it actually goes farther than that.

Microsoft is restricting access to some APIs on ARM-architecture devices that are, as Dotzler says, "absolutely necessary for building a modern browser that it won't give to other browsers so there's no way another browser can possibly compete with IE in terms of features or performance."

Dotzler is focused on the implications of Microsoft's win32 API restrictions on ARM because they affect Firefox. This makes sense because Dotzler works for Mozilla and focuses on Firefox in general, not to mention Microsoft's long history of anticompetitive behavior towards third-party browsers. Make no mistake, though: Limiting access to the win32 APIs is likely to impact many other applications as well. How can LibreOffice or Apache OpenOffice compete with Microsoft Office if they're shut out of the win32 APIs?


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Windows on ARM - Windows RT