Today I noticed Live.com trying to get me to search with it in Firefox. Then Yahoo did the same thing. So I guess a new round of "let’s change search defaults" is going on within Firefox. That seemed a good excuse for a revisit how the various search engines are trying to pull us as their default choices in both Internet Explorer 7 and Firefox.
Back in October, I did a big fat article looking at the state of how search worked in Internet Explorer 7 and how search providers were trying to suck you into making them your default search choice. It was Firefox stuff that got me going today, but I wanted to first start by reviewing the IE7 situation.
For whatever reason, Internet Explorer 7 today acted like it was just installed on my desktop computer. Perhaps this was the result of the latest security patch that was pushed out. Maybe it was the result of me having removed the Google Toolbar since I first installed it. Frankly, it’s weird and has me slightly wondering if security updates will be used as an excuse to reset our defaults.
I’m especially paranoid because I don’t remember making MSN Search my default in IE7, yet that’s what it told me today in the "choose a provider screen" below:
Then again, my laptop did NOT try to get me to reset anything, and it shows the same IE7 version as my desktop. I had both the Google Toolbar and Yahoo Toolbar installed on my laptop. I removed them both, relaunched and my original default of Google stayed the same. So perhaps I am just paranoid or forget some change I made on my desktop.
With IE7 running and set to use Live.com (well, it says MSN Search), it was time for a tour of other major search engines, to see how they reacted.
Google saw I was using IE7 without using the Google Toolbar, so displayed this message:
Of course, the advantage to me downloading the Google Toolbar is that it will helpfully suggest that I switching to Google as my default search provider plus monitor to ensure it’s hard for other companies to switch me away from them.
Over at Yahoo, I got nothing. No pitch, no invitation to download a toolbar or change my defaults, nada. That’s exactly how Yahoo acted back when IE7 launched, and it’s incredibly strange. I’m both pleased they aren’t pushing to become my default and also thinking they’re missing out on what everyone else is doing.
FYI, Marketing Pilgrim had a big saga on Friday where Yahoo was accused of changing defaults without permission when people downloaded Yahoo Messenger. But then it seems Yahoo does explain what’s going to happen. You can read the back-and-forth there. Typically I’ve found things from all the providers are disclosed but that disclosures are often not easy to notice.
Over at Ask, I got a pitch to add Ask as my default:
See the invitation at the top of the screen? That "slides down" when you load the Ask.com home page. Ask has been doing this since the IE7 launch, as I wrote about earlier, but this is a different display than what it did at that time, which was this:
Now back to Firefox. When I went to Live.com today, I got this screen:
See the "Would you like to set Live Search as your default search provider" at the top of the page? I’ve never seen that before. Searching on the exact phrase via Google, I found only one match for it, over here at BufferOverrun. That shows it happening for a Mac user back in December. Maybe it’s been going on for both Mac and Windows users since then. But I’m regularly at Live.com, and this was a new thing for me.
If you click on it, Live.com will be added to the choices from the drop down list with a message like this:
Notice the "Start using it right away" check box. I like and dislike this.
I like that it’s not automatically checked. I dislike that if you do check it, Live.com apparently becomes your default. That’s a different thing than "Start using it right away." C’mon — plain speaking please! Make that option "Make Live.com My Default In Firefox," if that’s indeed the change that happens.
Of course, Live.com wouldn’t have to do some of this if it were at least already one of the default choices in Firefox, as it should be. From what I wrote about this last month:
Two of the most important search engines on the web — Ask.com and Live.com – are not defaults in [the Firefox] search box. Where’s the trust there? Google gets to be default because they pay Firefox money. Shouldn’t Firefox have undertaken a survey of search quality and given us a default that provides the best results? Shouldn’t those other two be there given they provide very good results as well, sometimes better than Google’s results?
That brings me back to Yahoo. Today I noticed this suggestion for the first time:
I didn’t find any other matches for the phrase "search with Yahoo! from your browser," so this also seems new. Also interesting that Yahoo’s not trying to make you change it to the default. It’s being low-key and simply reminding that it is a choice in Firefox to try.