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Mozilla releases roadmap for Boot to Gecko project

Software & AppsNews
, 07 Nov 2011News

Mozilla is continuing its assault on the operating system, releasing an updated roadmap for its Boot to Gecko (B2G) project that sees its developers using the mobile platform as their primary phone device by the end of the year.

Mozilla's Boot to Gecko project first appeared back in July, when researcher Andreas Gal posted a message to the mozilla.dev.platform Usenet group asking for volunteers to help develop a new mobile platform that brings the concept of the open web to smartphones as well as the desktop.

"We propose a project we’re calling 'Boot to Gecko' (B2G) to pursue the goal of building a complete, standalone operating system for the open web. We will do this work in the open, we will release the source in real-time, we will take all successful additions to an appropriate standards group, and we will track changes that come out of that process. We aren't trying to have these native-grade apps just run on Firefox," Gal claimed at the time, "we're trying to have them run on the web."

As well as a standalone platform, Gal explained that initial versions of the software would operate as a "low-level substrate for an Android-compatible device," allowing tablets and smartphones based on Google's popular mobile platform to boot into B2G as well.

The B2G project stands as an apparent answer to the success of Google's Android and the work the advertising giant has done on the Chrome OS project for so-called 'Chromebook' devices. A combination of the two - a smartphone platform and a web app platform - B2G promises to appeal to those looking to offload their processing from a mobile device to the cloud.

In the latest version of the B2G roadmap, Mozilla claims that the first milestone is to get developers using a B2G device as their day-to-day smartphone - a goal it aims to achieve by the end of the year.

The project has a way to go, however: while B2G currently has access to smartphone features including the camera and the ability to make outgoing calls via Android, work has yet to be completed on messaging and full telephony functionality, along with power management, Android contacts integration and screen management.

Mozilla B2G interface mockup

Once complete, the team is planning to turn its attention to the nicer aspects: support for Bluetooth, USB and Near-Field Communications hardware is planned - although not yet scheduled - while plans to release an open web apps store = much like Google's own Chrome Store, which lists web apps solely for use with its own browser - and add full Firefox-like functionality to the web browser are scheduled.

Once complete, that work will result in a public demonstration of the project as early as Q1 2012, the team claims, followed by "productisation" in Q2 - at which point the public at large will be given their chance to play with Mozilla's creation.

The company has a long road ahead, however: Google's Android is a popular platform, and while B2G promises to maintain compatibility with the system - likely by integrating a dual-boot functionality or using B2G as an overlay on top of the still-running Android OS where possible - it's likely to struggle to convince non-technical types that it's worth the effort.

Should the company secure a deal with a major handset manufacturer to ship B2G as standard with a smartphone, however, that could rapidly change.

Full details of the B2G project are available on the official wiki.

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