Firefox Experiment is testing Bing as the default search engine
Mozilla is running an experiment on 1% of the Firefox desktop population currently, which sets the default search engine to Bing in the web browser.
Firefox ships with different search engines by default, and one of these is set as the default search engine. The default search engine is used when users type into the browser's address bar or use the search field on the browser's new tab page.
There are regionally difference when it comes to the default, but in most regions, it is Google Search. Mozilla and Google extended the search deal in 2020 for another three years. Google is paying Mozilla "between $400 and $450 million per year" so that its search engine is the default in Firefox in most regions. Google has been Firefox's default search engine since 2017, when Mozilla ended its search deal with Yahoo early.
Firefox users may change the default search engine to one of the other engines that are included by default, or an engine that is not included but can be added. Microsoft's Bing search engine is included by default and users can switch to it in Firefox with just a few clicks.
The September 15, 2021 SUMO post lists the search experiment in Firefox:
From Sept 6, 2021 1% of the Desktop user base will be experimenting with Bing as the default search engine. The study will last into early 2022, likely wrapping up by the end of January.
The study started on September 6 and it will run until early 2022, likely January 2022. About 1% of Firefox desktop users may notice that the default search engine is changed when the installation of Firefox is picked for the experiment.
Is the search engine changed regardless of whether the user has changed it to another search engine? Or is it changed only, if the user has not changed the default search engine? One would hope that the latter is the case.
Tip: load about:studies in the Firefox address bar to list the studies that the browser us currently taking part in and has completed already. Firefox users who don't want to participate in studies can disable the preference "Allow Firefox to install and run studies" on about:preferences#privacy.
Mozilla does not reveal why it is running the study. One plausible explanation is provided by Sören Hentzschel, who is suggesting that Mozilla might want to have a backup plan when the search contract with Google runs out in 2023. Google may be interested in extending the search deal, but if the deal falls through, Microsoft would be one of the few remaining options for Mozilla. Most revenue is coming from search engine deals.
How many Firefox users would revert the change to Google or switch to another browser entirely if Bing would become the default?
Now You: what is your preferred search engine right now?Advertisement