Mozilla seems to be unhappy with Microsoft and the company’s limitations when it comes down to building native applications for its next-generation Windows mobile platform. Although it has so far produced a steady stream of testing builds of Fennec for Windows Mobile, the development efforts associated with Firefox for Windows Phone 7 have been put on hold. Stuart Parmenter, the Mobile Team technical lead, Mozilla Corporation, indicated that the time-out might very well end up being indefinite, and that, essentially, the ball was in Microsoft’s court.
“While we think Windows Phone 7 looks interesting and has the potential to do well in the market, Microsoft has unfortunately decided to close off development to native applications. Because of this, we won’t be able to provide Firefox for Windows Phone 7 at this time. 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 on hold,” Parmenter stated.
In mid-February 2010, Mozilla made available for download Fennec for Windows Mobile Alpha 4, designed to support Windows Mobile 6.0 and later. However, following Microsoft’s announcements at MIX10 the past week, continuing with the current course of development with Firefox for Windows Mobile doesn’t seem to be a valid option for Mozilla. Parmenter made it clear that, unless Microsoft changed the limitations around Windows Phone 7 development, there would be no Firefox release for the platform.
“We will be disabling the builds and test automation shortly, and developers shouldn’t worry if the tree breaks,” he stated. “While I hope that we do see Microsoft provide us with a way to build Firefox for Windows Phone 7, we will continue to focus on the things that we can control: building a great consumer product on both Android and Maemo.”
What is interesting is that Mozilla has also been hard at work on a project designed to produce an embedded version of its open source browser for Windows CE. But, despite the fact that Firefox does run on Windows CE, which is at the core of Windows Phone 7, it is locked out of the actual mobile platform.
“We know that the underlying platform for Windows Phone 7 is Windows CE 6, which is a big step up from the kernel used by Windows Mobile 6.5. Windows CE 6 is a platform that we have been developing towards, and already run well on, leaving us well positioned to have an awesome browser on Windows Phone 7,” Parmenter said.