Mozilla Hates Microsoft’s Classic Desktop Limitations on Windows RT
By on May 10th, 2012

Once again, Microsoft has found itself in the crosshairs of rival web browser companies who are accusing the company of unfair, anti-competitive practices. And somehow, the latest accusation — coming from Mozilla — is even more sensationalist and ridiculous than those of the past. In a blog post from Harvey Anderson of the Mozilla General Council that, in a nutshell is six paragraphs of senseless bitching, Mozilla accuses Microsoft of not allowing third-party browsers to fairly compete with IE as developers cannot build apps in the “privileged” Windows Classic desktop.

While the post did a horrible job at explaining why, Asa Dotzler penned a post with a more technical explanation:

That means that IE on ARM has access to win32 APIs — even when it’s running in Metro mode, but no other Metro browser has that same access. Without that access, no other browser has a prayer of being competitive with IE.

Essentially, Mozilla feels that it cannot build a proper browser without access to the legacy win32 APIs.

Also, I want to point out something that I haven’t seen any tech blog point out as of yet. This isn’t a targeted attack against browsers. Microsoft executives didn’t gather with their monocles and three-piece suits and decide that it was time to ruin competing browsers by eradicating their access to essential APIs. Nope. Instead, for quality control reasons, no third-party developers will be able to create applications that run on the Windows RT legacy desktop. Apart from the apps bundled with Windows — including IE — features of Windows like Windows Explorer for filesystem access, or the “classic” control panel, and an ARM-optimized version of Office, no other applications are allowed.

So no, anti-establishment, Microsoft-hating weenies. Put away your signs and pitchforks, and cancel that #OccupyRedmond protest you were inevitably planning to destroy the evil corporation. For whatever reason, Microsoft wants to offer a crippled legacy desktop for ARM tablet users that shouldn’t even be there. Nobody cares about filesystem access on their tablet. But, they do acknowledge its uselessness, and, for quality reasons, they’re simply not allowing other developers to make stuff on ARM, or access APIs to power Metro apps.

But Microsoft isn’t forbidding third-party browsers. Mozilla are free to go ahead and develop something awesome through WinRT. That is what they would have done if there was no legacy code in Windows 8.

But, I do wonder how Microsoft will handle this situation. Will they begin to allow select partners to have additional access — under their supervision, of course — to win32 APIs, or even worse, the ability to develop full-blown legacy applications on ARM? That would be awful. There’s no need for the legacy desktop, and, like most users likely will, developers need to ignore it.

Image Source: eBaumsworld

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Author: Paul Paliath Google Profile for Paul Paliath
I founded and regularly wrote blog posts on GeekSmack from 2008 until 2011, when I failed at running a blog. I now write about Microsoft for Techie-Buzz. When not writing blog posts, I'm usually found designing websites and learning how to code. You should follow me on Twitter here.

Paul Paliath has written and can be contacted at paul@techie-buzz.com.

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