Running Firefox in Windows 8’s new tile-based user interface has been a long-time goal for Mozilla, and the fruits of that labour can now be seen when installing this special Nightly build of Firefox, codenamed “Elm”.

The build effectively installs two versions of Firefox, the “classic” desktop version, and the metro browser. The latter is of most interest here, and in order for users to access it, you’ll need to make Firefox the default browser, plus assign any defaults to it when prompted – typically after first launching it.

Once done, return to the Start screen and you should see a Firefox Nightly tile appear in the list – clicking this launches the Metro UI version of the browser and allows you to preview it. At this early stage in its development, navigation is awkward – and some sections seem to require access to a touch screen.

Nightly must be set as your default browser for the tile to appear in your Windows 8 Start screen.

With a lack of documentation - you'll need to wade through the Mozilla Wiki to find out that permanently showing thumbnail previews of all open tabs requires swiping down from a narrow corner on the top left of the screen, for example - it's clearly nowhere near ready for the mainstream. Nevertheless, it's clear why Mozilla is happy to provide a public download because ultimately the browser - however clunky - does ultimately work. Even so, unless you're Mr Nosey, you might find waiting for the Metro interface work to complete and be integrated into the main Firefox build before taking it on an extensive test drive is a better option.

This Nightly build will install alongside any alpha, beta or stable version of Firefox, but will install over the top of another Nightly build. As this is code hot off Mozilla’s presses, it’s untested and therefore both unfinished and extremely unstable.


Worth checking out if you’re running Windows 8 and are impatient to see how Firefox will look when running as a tile-based app, otherwise, leave well alone and wait.