Mozilla Launches Custom Firefox Version with Bing as Default Search Engine

Since its earliest days, Firefox always used Google as its default search engine. Chances are, this won’t change anytime soon, but a short little announcement on the Firefox blog this morning will surely get some pundits to speculate if Microsoft’s Bing could one day become the browser’s search engine of choice. That’s because starting today, Mozilla will offer a custom version of Firefox with Bing to its users. This custom version uses Bing as the default search engine in both the search box and the “AwesomeBar.” will also be the default homepage and chances are that Microsoft and Mozilla have worked out a way to split revenue from this venture, though the official announcement doesn’t make any mention of this.

Bing has been a search option for Firefox since last October. Mozilla clearly doesn’t want you to read too much into this announcement. In its blog post, the Firefox team notes that there are “nearly 20 customized versions of Firefox distributed globally by partners including Bing, United Internet, Twitter, Yahoo! and Yandex.” Bing then is just another one in this series of custom versions and I doubt the Twitter or Yahoo versions of Firefox are seeing record downloads (just try finding them in the first place).

Given that Google’s Chrome is quickly gaining market share, though, and has now become a formidable competitor for Firefox, it’s hard to imagine that the folks over at Mozilla haven’t thought about switching allegiances to Microsoft. I doubt this will happen anytime soon, though, as Mozilla currently needs the income its gets from Google to survive. If Microsoft decides to match this, though, things may change, of course, and maybe this custom version is just a way of testing what that cooperation would look like…