Mozilla and Microsoft have been fierce rivals, but they're cooperating when it comes to search results delivered from Firefox 4's search bar.
Stephen Shanklandprincipal writer
Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and writes about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
Expertiseprocessors, semiconductors, web browsers, quantum computing, supercomputers, AI, 3D printing, drones, computer science, physics, programming, materials science, USB, UWB, Android, digital photography, scienceCredentials
I've been covering the technology industry for 24 years and was a science writer for five years before that. I've got deep expertise in microprocessors, digital photography, computer hardware and software, internet standards, web technology, and other dee
Firefox's direct pipeline to Google search results is Mozilla's dominant revenue source, but the next version of the open-source Web browser will also get Microsoft's Bing as an alternative.
Google will remain the default search option in Firefox, and Yahoo will be second, but Bing will become a third for English-language users when Firefox 4 is released, Mozilla announced Wednesday.
"Bing...offers a user experience that we think users will find valuable, and with its significant rise in popularity over the last year, we will also be including Bing as a general search option for English language users," said Jay Sullivan, Mozilla's vice president of products, in a blog post.
Microsoft has had a search engine for years, so why only add it now? "Until Bing launched last year, we didn't have many users asking us to include a Microsoft search engine in the search bar," Sullivan told CNET. "Since then, we've heard a lot of positive feedback about Bing, and based on our own analysis, we thought it offered a valuable user experience."
Those who delve into a dialog box already can add Bing and other search options to Firefox, so it's not as if Bing fans have been shut out. But the new option will build it in, a notable change given the fierce rivalry over the last decade between Microsoft and Mozilla when it comes to browsers.
The browser landscape is changing, though. After years of relatively sluggish change, Microsoft is back in the game with IE9, now in beta testing. The software includes support for many Web standards that Mozilla and others have been trying to establish for months or years, making IE now also something of an ally as well as a competitor.
Chrome is new competition for Firefox, to be sure, but don't expect Google to freeze out Mozilla just because it's got its own browser to promote now. For one thing, Mozilla remains a significant force in advancing Web standards Google believes in; Mozilla was the most prominent organization to endorse Google's open-source, royalty-free WebM video format, for example. For another, Google's bread and butter remains search advertising, and shutting down sources of search traffic isn't in Google's overall interests.
Chrome has changed how search works in a browser, though, with its "omnibox" that functions as a mechanism to type in both Web addresses and searches. Microsoft has adopted the same strategy with its IE9 beta.
The new Bing option isn't the only change coming to Firefox 4's search.
Mozilla also will scrap two search options present today, Answers.com and Creative Commons. The former is less popular than the Wikipedia option, Mozilla said, and the latter has shifted away from its earlier mission of locating content licensed under the Creative Commons into a general search engine.
So the way the search options will look after the change is as follows: Google, Yahoo, Bing, Amazon, eBay, and Wikipedia.