Mozilla plans on stopping work on a version of Firefox for Windows Mobile, according to an organization executive, because Microsoft has decided to "close off development to native applications" for smartphones running its upcoming Windows Phone 7 Series operating system. Mozilla had apparently been working on Firefox for Windows Mobile for some time, and now plans to disable both the builds and test automation. Microsoft executives have emphasized repeatedly over the past few weeks that current Windows Mobile applications will not be compatible with Windows Phone 7 Series, as the company attempts to make a fresh start for its flagging smartphone OS franchise.
Mozilla will stop work on a version of Firefox for Windows
Mobile, according to an organization executive, because Microsoft is apparently
preventing the development of native applications for its upcoming Windows
Phone 7 Series.
"We have been building a version of Firefox for Windows
Mobile for quite a while, with the expectation that Microsoft would be doubling
down in the mobile market and hoping they would put out a great new mobile
operating system," Stuart Parmenter, Mozilla's Director of Mobile, wrote
in a March 22 posting on the Blog.Pavlov.Net blog.
For that build, Mozilla
had been using Windows CE6, the platform undergirding the Windows Phone 7
Series, which is expected to roll out at some unannounced point near the end of
As a result, Mozilla saw itself as "well positioned to have
an awesome browser on Windows Phone 7," Parmenter added. That is, until
Microsoft apparently decided to "close off development to native applications" on
its new platform.
this, we won't be able to provide Firefox for Windows Phone 7 at this time,"
Parmenter concluded. "Given that Microsoft is staking their future in mobile on
Windows Mobile 7 (not 6.5) and because we don't know if or when Microsoft will
release a native development kit, we are putting our Windows Mobile development
In the meantime, Mozilla plans to disable the builds and
test automation, and direct resources towards development for products such as
Windows Phone 7 Series will leverage Silverlight and XNA for
building applications and 3D games for the upcoming Windows Phone Marketplace,
Microsoft announced at its recent MIX 10 conference.
But Microsoft intends Windows Phone 7 Series to be a clean break
from previous versions of its smartphone operating-system franchise, which has
been steadily losing U.S. market-share in the face of stiff competition from
the likes of Research In Motion's BlackBerry, Apple's iPhone, and Google Android.
As part of that, current Windows Mobile applications will not be compatible
with Windows Phone 7 Series.
"We do recognize that there are a lot of folks who have been
writing apps for Windows Mobile for some time," Larry Lieberman, senior product
manager for Microsoft's Mobile Developer Experience, told eWEEK in a March 15
interview. "But we recognize that the landscape has changed, and as we've been
looking at stuff, we had to drastically change our game, and really the only
way to do that was to look at what we are offering and what we could do to
address this in a competitive accelerated manner."
At least part of the lack of an upgrade path for
applications, Lieberman added, was the timing required to push Windows Phone 7
Series to market. "This product was delivered in an incredibly accelerated
timeframe," he said. "If we'd had more time and resources, we may have been
able to do something in terms of backward compatibility."
Originally debuted during the Mobile World Congress in
Barcelona on Feb. 15, Windows Phone 7 Series takes a different approach to its
user interface than many other smartphones currently on the market. Instead of
the "pages of mobile applications" format utilized by Google Android and the
iPhone, Microsoft's upcoming devices will instead feature "hubs" that aggregate
Web content and mobile applications into subject-specific screens such as
"Office," "Games," and "Pictures." Like the iPhone at its launch, Windows Phone
7 Series will lack the ability to cut, copy, and paste text; in addition,
engineers from Microsoft and Adobe are actively collaborating on how to
integrate Flash Player 10.1 into Internet Explorer Mobile on the devices, but
neither company has offered a definite date for Flash support.
Microsoft executives have also insisted that the company
will support Windows Mobile 6.x and other devices that run previous versions of
its smartphone operating system.