Alternate Firefox Ships With Bing, Big Deal?

Martin Brinkmann
Oct 27, 2011
Updated • Dec 10, 2012
Firefox, Search

One of the stories that dominated tech news yesterday was that Mozilla started shipping a version of the Firefox browser with Microsoft's Bing search engine as the default search engine instead of Google Search. Some news sites made it look like as if Mozilla dropped Google as the browser's search provider in favor of Microsoft's Bing. That apparently is not the case at all, and the emphasize on version of Firefox should have been clue enough for that.

Microsoft has created the Firefox with Bing website to distribute a special version of the Firefox web browser. This particular version of Firefox ships with Bing set as the browser's homepage, default search engine and search provider in Firefox's address bar.

Internet users who click on the Get Firefox with Bing button are redirected to a download on the Mozilla website. The download pops up automatically, the download itself is the latest stable Firefox browser version. Users who install the latest stable version of Firefox this way will use Bing instead of Google in the browser.

This does not really change anything else. Firefox versions available for download directly at Mozilla will still ship with Google as the default search provider. And that's the place where most Firefox downloads happen.

firefox with bing

mozilla firefox for bing

It is up to Microsoft to promote Firefox with Bing, and it remains to be seen if a lot of users will take up Bing's offer and download the Bing Firefox version from the promo page.

Existing Firefox users can install the Bing add-on for the browser instead to add the same functionality. If you do not want to install and add-on for that, you can head over to the Mycroft Project website instead to pick search providers from the list there.

So, Mozilla is teaming up with Microsoft, and probably rewarded handsomely for it. Some may see the move as a first step to become less dependent on Google, which in my opinion is a path that Mozilla should have taken a long time ago.

You can read the official announced over at the Bing Community blog.

What's your take on this?


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  1. Australia UGG Outlet said on November 18, 2011 at 8:45 pm

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  2. Jangly Mark said on October 29, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    Firefox users can switch search engines in seconds.

    1. Type “about:config” into the URL bar.

    2. Ignore the displayed warning.

    3. Search for “Keyword.URL”

    4. Adjust to your liking.

    Simple :)

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on October 30, 2011 at 9:59 am

      You still need to know what to input there though ;)

  3. tommy2rs said on October 27, 2011 at 8:36 pm

    Changing Firefox’s default search engine just takes an easy modification to the keyword.URL preference in about.config. Google it for more details.

  4. hal9000 said on October 27, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    Bing is such a waste of time.
    I can see why they have done this, sure but I would never download something that forces me to use that shit search engine.

  5. Roman ShaRP said on October 27, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    I don’t trust MS. I don’t like many of recent Google’s decisions too, but they are less into world proprietary-copyright conspiracy than MS is.

    No cooperation with proprietary-copyright conspiracy = no Bing.

  6. Matias said on October 27, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    I think that probably the most lucrative thing to do for FF (and probably what will happen) is to leave Google as the default search engine. The “right” thing to do would be to let users decide

    For those that believe that Google is not going to pour as much money into FF now, I think that the effect would be almost the opposite: since Google does not have an easy access to IE default search engine, they do not have many options on the browser market (besides Chrome), but to heavily invest on FF search mechanism to keep and extend even more their supremacy on search engines. FF could be promoting a search engine bidding between MS and Google.

    BTW Martin check your e-mail! :)


  7. Toto said on October 27, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    As you probably know the contract (for having google as default search engine) between FF and Google is expiring soon and it’s probably quite tense the negociation to renew it. Especially because now Google has it’s own browser.
    Maybe it’s a move from mozilla to show to google that in case they don’t renew the contract they might perfectly switch the default search engine in a minute.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on October 27, 2011 at 12:56 pm

      The issue for Mozilla however is this: They will infuriate many Firefox users if they switch to Bing. Not necessarily because Bing is a worse search engine than Google, but because Bing is only a solid alternative on the US market. If you ever tried to use Bing in another country you probably know what I mean.

      1. Midnight said on October 28, 2011 at 2:15 am

        I tried Bing when it was first released and didn’t like it.
        From what I read, Micro$oft stole many features from Google, which didn’t surprise me at the time.

        No matter, there’s still ways to keep Google as the main Search Engine and that’s what I intend to do.

        No fuss, no muss! :)

      2. hal9000 said on October 27, 2011 at 6:04 pm

        my thoughts exactly. Ms don’t care about any other country than the US of A

  8. odio said on October 27, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    bleh, i dont like bing at all

    1. Midnight said on October 28, 2011 at 2:16 am


  9. Swapnil said on October 27, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    Very less users will ever come to know about it. Because Microsoft would definitely not advertise Firefox with Bing more than IE.

    Off-topic: Martin, do you plan to re-open the Ghacks forums. I am waiting for them to be opened since more than a month.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on October 27, 2011 at 12:54 pm

      Have not decided yet Swapnil, not sure at the moment if I will re-open it at all.

      1. Dean said on October 27, 2011 at 3:43 pm


        Sorry to do this off-topic; with the forum, why not just let a few trusted old-time members do some modding/topic cleanup for you?

        Just an idea.



  10. Bart Degryse said on October 27, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    IMHO, just as it was wrong to team up with google it is wrong to team up with microsoft for exactly the same reasons. I think on installation FF should just ask the user which default search engine and address bar search provider he/she wants.

    1. Daryl said on October 27, 2011 at 12:13 pm

      Except that by doing so provides substantial revenue to Mozilla, which pays for the browser development.

      How else did you think such a massive project was funded?

      You’re not going to see Google continuing to pour as much money into FF now that they have a rival browser – and as they were the major funder as I understood it of Mozilla/Firefox, their withdrawal was a major blow.

      You might question why, therefore, MS are teaming up with Mozilla/FF in this way in competition with their own browser, but they are at a different point and having to prove that they’re not anti-competition (“Browser Choice” in Windows is a good example) and now supporting FF/Mozilla in this way will go a little way towards demonstrating, for example, to the EU Competition Commission, who have been breaking MS’s balls for years at some cost to MS.

      1. Martin Brinkmann said on October 27, 2011 at 12:54 pm

        I’d say for Microsoft it is more about promoting Bing and increasing the search engine’s market share than anything else. I do not think that any sane government in the world would still object to Microsoft shipping Windows with Internet Explorer, considering that the market share is at a new low.

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