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Windows 8-friendly version of Mozilla Firefox set to land in December

If you've been waiting for a final Windows 8 Metro version of your favourite web browser, assuming that's Mozilla's Firefox browser, then you have a bit longer to go, but there's hope in sight.

According to new notes from Mozilla's most recent Firefox planning meeting, the company plans to launch a version of the browser for Windows 8's "Metro" UI (technically, Windows 8's "new Windows User Interface," since Microsoft officially retired the "Metro" terminology for its tile-based design some time ago). The "preview release," as Mozilla dubs it, will officially arrive as part of the company's Firefox 26 release on December 10.

If you're looking to get your hands on a Metro-ised version of Firefox even earlier, however, you can always check out the new browser iteration by grabbing the Aurora build of Firefox on 16 September.

It's at that point that Mozilla will merge Firefox Metro into the "Aurora 26" variant of Firefox. While that means quicker access to features, it's also one of Mozilla's more unstable environments for browser releases - which is to say, don't be surprised or upset if your pre-beta browser starts getting funky.

Mozilla intends to push all Aurora features into the Beta channel on 28 October - a bit more of a stable environment for potential testers to play around with, given that Mozilla will be spending its time between September and October fixing and polishing features.

Assuming that delays don't hit the testing and tweaking process, Mozilla's Metro iteration of Firefox will arrive all of one year (and a few months' change) past the initial launch of Windows 8. Google's Chrome browser will have enjoyed nearly a year and a half advantage by then, having hit the web as a Metro-friendly browser in June of last year (months prior to Windows 8's official release).

To Mozilla's credit, however, the company has been working on a Metro version of Firefox since March 2012. It launched a preview of its Metro browser in October of last year, with the first Nightly build of Firefox Metro hitting this past February.

Since Nightly builds usually take six weeks or so to transform into an Aurora build of Firefox, it was expected at that point that a full-fledged Firefox Metro browser could have seen the light of day around May or June of this year. It's unclear exactly why the final version of Firefox Metro is arriving so much later after that - perhaps testing and fixing is simply taking much longer than Mozilla expected, for better or for worse.