It’s time for another (mostly painless) browser upgrade. Mozilla has released Firefox 34 with a number of new features for users and developers plus a controversial switch of default search engine. Let’s take a look under the hood…
Goodbye Google, Hello Yahoo
The decade of default Googling is over. Mozilla’s lucrative partnership with Google has ended and Firefox users will have an alternative for the 100 billion searches they perform every year. According to the press release:
In evaluating our search partnerships, our primary consideration was to ensure our strategy aligned with our values of choice and independence, and positions us to innovate and advance our mission in ways that best serve our users and the Web. In the end, each of the partnership options available to us had strong, improved economic terms reflecting the significant value that Firefox brings to the ecosystem.
For those who can’t read marketing BS, this roughly translates to “Yahoo will give us more money”. As per the deal, foor the next five years:
- Yahoo will be the default search engine for US users.
- Yandex will be the default for Russian users.
- Baidu will continue to be the default for Chinese users.
- Google will remain to be the default for other users throughout the world. There will inevitably be some commercial payback but there’s no official arrangement.
- Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, eBay, Amazon, Twitter and Wikipedia will continue to be built-in search options.
As well as monetary concerns, I suspect Google’s commercial vision and own browser didn’t sit well with Mozilla. There are rumors negotiations broke down because Google were not eager to follow Do Not Track privacy standards. Interestingly, Yahoo ignores DNT but will now enable it — but only for Firefox users.
What’s most interesting is what’s not being said. Yahoo no longer power their own search engine; below the surface, it’s Microsoft’s Bing.
Ultimately, little of this matters to users: you can continue to use whichever engine you prefer. Mozilla doesn’t need to make a profit but it’ll be intriguing to discover how the deal affects the income which is plowed back into Firefox development.
Improved Search Bar
A new one-click search bar offers suggestions and an icon set with alternative engines. Bizarrely, only US users receive this enhancement so I guess it’s somehow part of the Yahoo deal?
Hello is a real-time video chat built by tokbox using WebRTC. In essence, it’s Skype or Google Hangouts without the need for additional software, plugins or a user account. Or even Firefox — a “Hello” link can be sent to anyone with a WebRTC-compatible browser such as Chrome or Opera.