Firefox with Bing: Mozilla will Steer Some Browser Users Microsoft's Way

by Ostatic Staff - Oct. 27, 2011

In a post earlier today, I noted that Microsoft could potentially tie its Internet Explorer browser to Windows 8 in ways that harken back to the company's practices before the DOJ placed restrictions on it more than 10 years ago. That, of course, could have a very deleterious effect on Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox--two huge open source success stories. Now, reports are appearing that Mozilla is already "seeing the web through Microsoft's eyes."

Mozilla has delivered Firefox with Bing, downloadable here, a version of Firefox that "that sets Bing as the default search engine in the search box and AwesomeBar and makes the default home page."  (Users of other versions of Firefox can also make these changes by installing the Bing Search for Firefox Add-on). Is this a heretical move from Mozilla?

Mozilla actually promoted the Bing search engine as an option as a result of an agreement between the two companies, but Firefox with Bing is another step entirely. Just ask Google how advantageous it has been to have versions of Firefox default to its search.

For years now, Mozilla has derived the bulk of its revenues from Google, in exchange for helping to feed users into Google's lucrative search/ad ecosystem. Recently, Mozilla has been trying to diversify its business so it isn't so dependent on this deal, and the deal comes up for possible renewal or rejection later this year. 

There is no doubt that Mozilla can diversify away from its Google deal by promoting Microsoft's search, but it remains to be seen how friendly users will actually be toward an open source browser that defaults to Microsoft's search engine. 

As The Register notes: "Under its 2010 deal with Microsoft, Mozilla signed a financial agreement with the software giant to share revenue based on traffic sent from Firefox to Bing."

That means that Firefox with Bing will have to steer some users Microsoft's way for Mozilla to benefit from the deal. Whether it will do so remains to be seen.