When will we start to see OEMs ship new PCs with Firefox or Opera installed?

When will we start to see OEMs ship new PCs with Firefox or Opera installed?

Summary: Let's face it, for the average PC user Internet Explorer is such a target for hackers and cyber-criminals that they can really do without it. Why do we still not have PCs targeted at average users that come with Firefox or Opera pre-installed?

TOPICS: Browser

Let's face it, for the average PC user Internet Explorer is such a target for hackers and cyber-criminals that they can really do without it.  Why do we still not have PCs targeted at average users that come with Firefox or Opera pre-installed?

I'm not using this post to overly bash Internet Explorer but the facts speak for themselves.  A trip over to Secunia proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Internet Explorer attracts attention from hackers and criminals.  There's a huge upside to getting the average home user off of IE and onto a safer browser.

When it comes to PC manufacturers I'm constantly amazed.  They go to great lengths to load up new PCs with all kinds of craplets that are of little or no use to the end user because the software is trial stuff, crippleware, old versions or just plain useless, but they won't actually install software that's really useful and going to benefit users.  And lets be honest, when it comes to security, it's not going to get much better for the end user than installing Firefox or Opera. 

But, back in the real world, the OEMs just don't seem to be doing this, and I really can't see why.  Both browsers are nice and fast (excluding Firefox's memory leak ... bug or feature, I really wish they'd fix that), reliable, easy to use and most websites work properly displayed in them.  Both browsers also feature update mechanisms, although Firefox's is better and updates the browser quietly in the background.  Perfect for users who ignore update reminders.

So, what's holding Firefox and Opera back?  Well, I know that some will say that it's Microsoft strong-arming the OEMs and keeping them in line.  I don't buy that.  Plenty of OEMs ship non-Microsoft software such as Norton Antivirus and WordPerfect.  No, I think it has more to do with support and compatibility.  I don't think that customers (and the OEMs themselves) will be happy sending users off to web forums looking for support. Also when it comes to compatibility, Firefox and Opera might offer better standards compliance than IE does, but there are a lot of websites out there that only support Internet Explorer.  Try explaining to a home user why he or she can't download content from Wal-Mart using Firefox.  Standards compliance isn't going to mean a thing, it's real-world compliance that they are looking for. 

Thoughts?  Would shipping Firefox or Opera as the default browser on new PCs make the computing world a safer place or are there too many websites that need IE out there?  What could Mozilla do to help OEMs adopt Firefox?

Topic: Browser

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  • It would be nice, but...

    the problem with this is that Microsoft has a very strong chokehold on OEMs. They wouldn't allow them to outright replace IE with a direct competitor without exerting some kind of levy or price-raising, given that OEMs are the biggest reason that Microsoft still dominates the home desktop market. If that chokehold on OEMs is broken, then the door would be open to replace IE with Firefox, Opera, etc.
    Tony Agudo
  • Great question

    I hope soon, but I have my doubts. At least Dell (maybe others?) is sending out PCs with OpenOffice preinstalled.
  • An OEM Perspective

    You are right that Microsoft cannot prevent us from loading a 3rd party browser or even making it the default browser. That would be a direct violation of their agreement with the DOJ. The reality is that if we loaded Firefox or Opera it would be another piece of software we would have to support since we cannot remove IE. That equates to more cost. In the case of the other software we load there is a financial benefit to offset the cost. We get revenue from the companies to load their software or the customer pays for it. In the case of Firefox and Opera there is only a cost. Also with IE7 and Vista there is still some debate whether either Firefox or Opera are any more secure then IE.
    • Good point

      Just a thought here.

      Microsoft doesn't seem to release many versions of IE, that might change though. But as things stand now we've had 1 version change in 6 years. With FireFox there seems to be version changes a few times a year. Not that there is anything wrong with that but from an OEM stand point that might be an added expense. IE is stable and doesn't change often and it's part of the OS. It's simple to support and if the user wants firefox then they can use IE to get it. No cost to the OEM there.
    • Plus there is an additional point...

      ... given the low margin business that PC production has become, then the primary goal of producing a PC is to get it out the door of the factory without incurring additional costs.

      What happens to it (in terms of software, NOT hardware) when it has gone out the door is not the manufacturer's concern. If it gets hosed by malware.... well that's just too darn bad.

      I see no incentive for the PC maker to do anything other than shove on a standard software pack and chuck the machine out the door as quick as possible.
  • Opera survives thanks to OEM contracts

    Opera for Devices e.g. Nintendo Wii / DS.
    Opera for Mobile (not Opera Mini, that's a different animal).
    These are the cashcows for Opera ASA. Only the desktop edition (and Opera Mini) is free and, IMHO, the hope was / is that this would promote the Opera brand, giving them valuable advertising and brand awareness to drive the paid for versions.

    The fact that the Dells / Gateways of this world decided to hop in bed with Microsoft was for the reduced OS cost. That will not change soon and FF / Opera have little chance of changing that.

    The other factor is ActiveX. Regardless of the cons of this technology, it is accepted as a necessary risk because of the countless sites that depend on it. The list of sites often include banking sites, and intranet applications. The OEMs are going to make sure that the business customers are kept happy, otherwise large contracts could be lost.

    How long does it take to download either FF or Opera?
  • Just add "IE View"

    The default Firefox installation should include the "IE View" button and obvious instructions on when to use it.
    • IE Tab add-on

      Or IE Tab, a Mozilla add-on, could be installed, so that IE-only sites can be rendered with no problems; it works flawlessly.
  • Why Bother?

    Any browser other than IE will have to be downloaded again because unlike Microsoft the other browser are constantly releasing new versions with new innovations. This isn't meant as cut on Microsoft but I'm betting we will see version of IE comming out more often too because of this competition.

    The point is this. If FireFox is installed it will be a certain version. A version that could be vulnerable to an exploit or a version with a bug or just a version with less functionality than the most current version. So first thing you'll do anyways if download a new version of Firefox when you get the new PC. So really is it needed? IE can do that for you just fine.
  • Go Opera/Firefox, the sites will catch-up fast

    OEMs should get away from IE, or at least offer options, and educate
    consumers. Maybe ship more than 1 browser, but make the non-IE
    one the default. Web sites will quickly follow suit and get sites fixed
    so they're not so brittle and non-standard.

    As for MS not strong-arming over browsers, you may be wrong there.
    I doubt MS is terribly concerned if they lose some market share in
    anti-virus, so the fact that Norton can be bundled is meaningless.

    Obviously MS cares about office suite market share, but they may be
    less worried about vulnerability there vs. browser share. Remember
    too that MS in the past has seen the browser as a strong force that
    could nullify OS value. If Office were to tank, they'd still have an OS &
    apps business. But if the web becomes the dominant paradigm some
    day (Google Docs anyone?), and IE isn't the dominant browser, what
    happens to Windows dominance, Office dominance, and the rest of
    their business? They may be more worried about IE than Office and
    strong-arm heavily regarding browsers.
  • No Utopia Here

    I've been using Firefox for awhile, and now have switched to Ubuntu for my OS. While I think that it would be great for OEMs to package Firefox on their Windows boxes, I don't know that this would be a real solution to security issues.

    Maybe I'm wrong, but I think that the real reason Firefox (and Linux) are more secure than IE (and Windows) is that hackers target Microsoft. Part of this may be the Darth Vadar syndrome, but I'd bet that another reason is the omnipresence of Microsoft software.

    Once Firefox (or Linux) hit a certain level of popularity, I wouldn't be surprised to see hackers attacking it (them) with the same zeal that they currently use to attack Microsoft.