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Microsoft is betting big on the new Metro interface in Windows 8, with its tile-based Start screen and apps that fill the entire display and work well on touch-screen devices. But how many third-party app developers will wager their own time to adjust to Microsoft’s new world?

Mozilla gave its answer over the weekend, outlining plans to develop a new Metro-style version of the Firefox browser.

“The feature goal here is a new Gecko based browser built for and integrated with the Metro environment,” reads a summary of the project, referring to the Gecko layout engine used by Firefox. “Firefox on Metro, like all other Metro apps will be full screen, focused on touch interactions, and connected to the rest of the Metro environment through Windows 8 contracts.”

Windows 8 Start Screen, with Live Tiles

Other possibilities identified by the document include a live tile on the Windows 8 start screen “with user-centric data like friends presence or other Firefox Home information updates.”

CNet reported on the plans this morning, noting that a concept version of the Metro-style Firefox could come in the second quarter, with alpha and beta builds in the second half of the year.

Microsoft is due to unveil the Windows 8 Consumer Preview later this month, including a preview of a new Windows Store for Metro-style apps. The company hasn’t yet given a final release date, but at this point it will be a surprise if Windows 8 isn’t released this year.

Windows 8 will also offer a traditional desktop view for running classic apps, and a version of Firefox will still be available in that environment.

The Mozilla document explains, “Classic is very similar to the Windows 7 environment at this time, it requires a simple evolution of the current Firefox Windows product. Metro is an entirely new environment and requires a new Firefox front end and system integration points.”

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