Is Internet Explorer losing the advantage of its Windows 8 head-start? These days, Firefox and Chrome can also be used in Modern UI-mode. However, unlike on the desktop, they’re still significantly behind IE.
Chrome in Windows 8 Mode
With Google Chrome version 32, the touch version of Internet Explorer gets its first official competitor. Instead of selecting a tile, you start tablet mode by selecting an option in the browser menu.
When you click the option, a selection window for your installed web browsers opens. After clicking again, Google Chrome opens in Windows 8 mode.
By doing this, you also make Chrome your default browser. A downside of doing this is that the tablet version of Internet Explorer disappears from the Start menu and can no longer be opened. Unfortunately Microsoft doesn’t allow an alternative – this means that if you want to use Internet Explorer again, you’ll need to set it as the default browser. Fortunately, Internet Explorer automatically queries this next time you start your program.
Chrome’s Windows 8 mode isn’t very different from the desktop version. There are no finger-friendly buttons, no multi-touch gestures for zoom and navigation and Chrome for Windows 8 can’t cope with the practical snap mode either. The browser is really only suitable for computers with a keyboard and mouse. You can still use the more versatile desktop version though.
Firefox in Windows 8 Mode
Firefox version 29 introduced a touch mode. To start Firefox in touch mode, you use the same principle as Google Chrome. A menu item allows you to set Firefox as the default browser. Then, when you start Firefox in future, it automatically loads the tablet-friendly interface.
However, unlike Google Chrome, Mozilla offers a browser that is genuinely optimized for tablets. Since our detailed analysis of the first test version, very little has been done to the interface. The design has been partially copied from Microsoft. As with IE11, you’ll now find the address bar below and there are two large arrows to flip ahead and back, as well as new tabs.
Unlike Chrome, the controls are sufficiently large, there’s a tab bar with thumbnails like in Internet Explorer, and Snap mode and touch gestures for the zoom work perfectly.
Further strengths of Internet Explorer vs. Chrome and Firefox for Windows 8
Firefox and Chrome on tablets are still no real alternative to Internet Explorer. In addition to the weaknesses already described, two practical functions of the Microsoft browser are missing.
In Touch mode, only Internet Explorer is able to offer simultaneous viewing of two pages with Windows Snap.
The handy Reading List App as a bookmark manager only works with Internet Explorer and a similar function is still missing from Chrome and Firefox Apps.
Anyone wishing to select and copy text will also be disappointed. There’s no touch-friendly selection tool. Clearly, Google and Mozilla have more work to do if they want to give Microsoft on Windows Tablets a run for its money.