If you ever wanted proof that Microsoft has learned that for Bing to succeed, it needs to spread its wings beyond Microsoft, look no further than today’s news that Bing is offering “Firefox With Bing.” That’s right, Microsoft is pushing a rival browser to its own Internet Explorer.
Firefox With Bing
In a blog post today, Bing invites people to download a version of “Firefox With Bing” where Bing is used as the default search engine for the Firefox search box and for searches conducted from the “AwesomeBar” address window:
In most countries, Firefox uses Google as its default search engine, thanks to a deal between Google and Firefox. Until last year, Bing wasn’t even an alternative option offered within the browser.
Bing: Any Browser Is A Good Browser
A Bing-Firefox deal last year finally fixed that issue. But today’s news is something entirely in its own league, a Microsoft division encouraging people to download a rival product of another division.
But it’s that type of attitude that I wrote in 2008 Microsoft needed to take, if it wanted to really win in search:
For Microsoft to succeed in search, I want them to forget how search integrates with Windows or Internet Explorer (sidenote: after being integrated in various ways for a decade now, clearly that’s not going to be a Google-killing tactic). Forget how search might tie into Office. Use Macs. Use Firefox. Hell, use Google Chrome. I want search products that succeed on their own.
Defaults Aren’t What You Assume
By the way, Bing is not the default in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, as some people assume. To my understanding, it’s the default only where it has done deals with hardware manufacturers or in the rare case when Internet Explorer is installed on a “clean” computer with no prior operating system.
As for Google’s Chrome, Google has usually been the default there, unless you install Chrome on a computer where Google is not already the default in another browser. In those cases, it typically has asked if you want to change to Google search.
Recently, however, I’ve noticed that on Apple computers, installing Chrome causes it to deliberately ask if you want to use Google, Yahoo or Bing. This has happened to me twice in the past two weeks. Potentially, the same is now happening on Windows computers. I just haven’t done any installs on them, recently.
For related news on the topic, see Techmeme.