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If you’re reading this on a PC, it’s probably on Google Chrome or Firefox — the two most popular browsers on Windows that Mashable readers use. It’s a telling example about how most tech-savvy Windows users don’t use the default browser on their machines, Internet Explorer. But how’s that going to change when Windows 8 launches later this year?

Windows 8, as you may know, has two modes: the familiar desktop, and the all-new Metro interface (for a primer on Windows 8, check out this link). Metro differs from traditional Windows in many ways, but one of the ways that’s not often talked about is that Microsoft will have final say over what apps run on it, since Windows 8 users will only be able to download Metro apps from the Windows Store.

With such ironclad control over the new operating system, would Microsoft even allow other web browsers to run in Metro? The answer is yes, and Mozilla is already hard at work developing the Metro version of Firefox, one of the company’s developers revealed on his personal blog. He also revealed a little tidbit: Browser apps will work somewhat differently than other Metro apps.

Mozilla engineer Brian R. Bondy says there are three types of Windows 8 apps: those that run solely in the classic desktop, Metro apps, and Metro-enabled browsers for the desktop. It’s the last one that Metro versions of Firefox (and presumably Google Chrome) will be.

SEE ALSO: Windows 8 Consumer Preview: The Good, the Bad and the Metro [REVIEW]
Bondy references a Microsoft white paper that says Metro-style browsers aren’t completely confined to the Metro environment. That means, as Bondy describes, that the browser can be just as powerful as its desktop equivalent, with the ability to multitask, download files in the background and render web-based HTML5 apps in their entirety.

That’s because, if Internet Explorer 10 is any indication, that the browser is essentially the same animal whether it’s running in the desktop or Metro — it’s only the user interface that’s different. Still, that involves quite a bit of coding, and Bondy says it’s a “very large project.”

There’s a catch, though: For a browser to run in Metro, the user must pick it as the default browser. That likely won’t be an issue for most fans of Firefox and Chrome, but it does mean you won’t be able to have multiple browsers open in Metro.


BONUS: A Tour of Windows 8


 

Start Menu

Here’s what greets you every time you log into your Windows 8 machine. Yes, the tiles are customizable, though it’s a little unwieldy in practice.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Firefox, google chrome, IE10, internet explorer, Metro, trending, web browsers, Windows 8

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Mashable Comics are illustrated by Kiersten Essenpreis, a Chicago-based artist who draws and blogs at YouFail.com.


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1. The Earliest Social Network Ever Discovered

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More About: Browsers, bugs, comics, humor, internet explorer, mashable comics, Web Development

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Windows 8 will have two versions of Internet Explorer 10 — a desktop version and the Metro version, which is optimized for tablets.

Part of that optimization will be a plugin free experience, meaning Metro IE10 will be primarily HTML5 and will not support browser plugins, including Flash.

“The experience that plug-ins provide today is not a good match with Metro style browsing and the modern HTML5 web,” writes Dean Hachamovitch, head of the Internet Explorer team, on Microsoft’s official blog.

Microsoft’s reasoning is eerily similar to Steve Jobs’s legendary open letter on Flash from April 2010 in which he wrote, “The mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards — all areas where Flash falls short.”

Hachamovitch goes on to explain how today’s web is largely HTML5-based and designed for a plugin-free experience. Microsoft recently examined 97,000 web sites, and discovered that 62% of them use Flash, but many of those need it only to display ads. Furthermore, a large number of Flash-using sites fall back to HTML5 if the user’s browser doesn’t support it.

Although the desktop version of IE10 will continue to support all plugins and extensions, this is another defeat for Adobe, whose Flash is slowly losing relevance as the web expands to smartphones and tablets. Interestingly, Silverlight isn’t mentioned in Microsoft’s posts about the plugin-free web.

More About: adobe, Flash, IE10, internet explorer, Internet Explorer 10, Metro, microsoft, Windows 8


WordPress Dashboard

As the Internet Explorer 6 Deathwatch continues, another web service — WordPress.com — has announced that it is ending support of the nearly decade-old web browser.

Citing “increasingly complex code trickery to make the WordPress dashboard work,” the company announced an end to IE6 support.

The dashboard will still load for IE6 users, it just won’t function very well. IE6 users will be alerted that their browser is outdated and given direct links to browser updates or to download an alternative browser via the Browse Happy website.

In addition to dropping IE6 support, WordPress.com has also rolled out some new features, including a revamped and redesigned dashboard and a new distraction-free writing mode.

These features — as well as the end-of-life for IE6 support — will make their way to self-hosted WordPress installs with WordPress 3.2. The beta version of WordPress 3.2 is available for download now and the final version is expected to land sometime in June.

WordPress.com, which hosts millions of websites, joins a long list of providers that have officially decided that enough is enough in regards to IE6. In March, Microsoft launched its own global campaign calling for the end of the browser.

More About: IE6, internet explorer, WordPress.com

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Microsoft has made many claims about IE9′s speed, but now the company is saying the latest version of its browser also bests the competition in terms of energy use.

Based on several tests conducted by Microsoft, it would seem that IE9 makes fewer demands on a computer’s battery — at least in certain scenarios. Firefox 4 came in a close second in every test; Opera 11 was the least energy-efficient browser in most tests.

Researchers at Microsoft put Chrome 10, Firefox 4, Safari 5, Opera 11 and Internet Explorer 9 head-to-head in three different test scenarios. First, they measured baseline power consumption with no browser running, then they looked at how much power the browsers used on an about:blank page. Next, they ran a typical news content website, which showcased power consumption in a typical web-browsing situation.

For the final tests, each browser ran Galactic, an HTML5-based browser performance test, and the FishIE Tank, another performance test.

Microsoft ran these tests on an Intel laptop running Windows 7; to make truly definitive statements about browser efficiency, the same tests would have to be run on a variety of devices and OSes. We’d love to know if IE9 holds up as well on an Android tablet, for example.

Here are graphs of the test results:

While it’s nice to know that IE 9 might help your battery last longer, these stats may not have much impact on the ongoing browser wars. Internet Explorer has been losing ground to Chrome and Firefox in particular for far too long; and for most consumers, energy efficiency might not be a deciding factor when choosing a web browser.

What do you think? Do these stats affect your opinion of IE 9? Would they make you want to use this browser over one of its competitors? Give us your opinions in the comments section.

More About: energy, green tech, IE9, internet explorer, microsoft

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