This sound familiar?
Mozilla is complaining that Microsoft is impeding its Firefox web browser from getting on the devices being designed to carry the unseen next-generation Windows for ARM chip, now officially called Windows RT.
RT, which has a Metro environment for tablets and phones, as well as a classic Windows interface, won’t support legacy apps like the x86 version of Windows 8 and programs that run on it will only be available Apple-like from Microsoft’s store.
Developers who support RT will only be able to use the Windows runtime stack and standard APIs. Microsoft claims that’s for reasons of security, performance and battery life. It’s supposedly typical of ARM. But it means third-party browsers, which need more than the standard APIs, won’t be supported in the classic desktop mode.
So, Mozilla’s general counsel Harvey Anderson dusted off some old familiar one-a-monopoly-always-a-monopoly rhetoric Wednesday and said this “restricts user choice, reduces competition and chills innovation” and represents an “unwelcome return to the digital dark ages” and put his statement on Mozilla’s web site.
He figures if IE can run on RT there’s no technical reason why other browsers can’t.
He seems less worried about the smartphones and tablets RT will run on initially. He’s looking into the future when ARM is built into PCs and laptops, even servers, maybe, and possibly becomes a big business. And – after reminding Microsoft of the so-called Windows Principles it subscribed in 2006 basically saying third-party software could be used as the default – it didn’t take Anderson long to get to the “antitrust implications” of the matter.
“If Windows on ARM is simply another version of Windows on new hardware, it also runs afoul of the EC browser choice commitments and seems to represent the very behavior the DOJ-Microsoft settlement sought to prohibit,” he said.
“The prospect that the next generation of Windows on ARM devices would limit users to one browser is untenable and represents a first step toward a new platform lock-in….We encourage Microsoft to remain firm on its user choice principles and reject the temptation to pursue a closed path. The world doesn’t need another closed proprietary environment and Microsoft has the chance to be so much more.”
It doesn’t seem to matter that Apple won’t let Firefox run on iOS Microsoft is dragging around antitrust chains like Marley’s ghost.
Ars Technica, for one, while admitting “the issue raises some difficult questions” down the line, says, “The policies that Microsoft has established for Windows RT seem reasonable today when considered in the context of how the platform is intended to be used. Demanding support for Firefox on Windows RT is a lot like asking for Opera on a Chromebook or WebKit on Mozilla’s own Boot2Gecko platform – it would conflict with the underlying purpose of the platform.”
Mozilla gets most of its funding from Google and Google, with its Chrome browser, is standing with Mozilla.