IBM makes Firefox its default browser

Firefox has become the default browser for nearly 400,000 IBM employees, a big coup for the open-source project during a time of increasing browser competition.
Written by Stephen Shankland, Contributor and  Jessica Dolcourt, Contributor

Firefox has become the default browser for nearly 400,000 IBM employees, a big coup for the open-source project during a time of increasing browser competition.

"All IBM employees will be asked to use it as their default browser," Bob Sutor, vice president of open source and Linux at IBM's Software Group, said in a blog post on Thursday. "Firefox is enterprise-ready, and we're ready to adopt it for our enterprise."

Mozilla has said in recent weeks it believes nearly 400 million people use its software.

In particular, IBM will load Firefox on new computers, train employees in its use, encourage vendors working with IBM to adopt it, and rely on the browser for its increasing use of cloud computing in its own IT infrastructure, he said.

"Today we already have thousands of employees using it on Linux, Mac and Windows laptops and desktops, but we're going to be adding thousands more users to the rolls," Sutor said.

Sutor lavished praise on the browser's role in recent history:

"While other browsers have come and gone, Firefox is now the gold standard for what an open, secure and standards-compliant browser should be," he said. "I think it was Firefox and its growth that reinvigorated the browser market as well as the web. That is, Firefox forced competitors to respond. Their software has gotten better and we have all benefited."

Like Firefox, both Opera and Google's Chrome browser also span Windows, Mac OS X and Linux, but Sutor said IBM is interested in Firefox's independence. "Firefox is open source, and its development schedule is managed by a development community not beholden to one commercial entity," he said.

The support from IBM might help nudge Firefox's recently wavering share of browser usage in a more optimistic direction.

In other Firefox news, the popular browser might be making its way onto the iPhone soon.

Back in late May, Mozilla announced that it would be creating an iPhone version of its Firefox browser — though the solution is not a browser itself. On Wednesday, Mozilla submitted its Firefox Home iPhone app to Apple for testing — and, it hopes, for approval.

The free Firefox Home is more of a window to Firefox browsing rather than a competing browser itself, which Apple's software development kit prohibits. Rather, the app relies on Firefox Sync, a cloud-based syncing technology that promises to securely sync desktop bookmarks, history and open tabs across Firefox browsers on desktops, mobile phones and tablets. You'll be able to view recent websites directly from Firefox Home via a WebKit viewer or by opening your previously visited web pages in the default Safari browser.

On the coding end, Firefox Home's URL viewer is based on WebKit, the same technology that powers the default Safari browser. Thanks to the app's role as a browser-helper that merely fetches your Firefox data rather than a Safari replacement, there's a good chance that Apple won't reject the app as a competing browser software, as the company has [in]famously done with full HTML browser attempts in the past.

Apart from delivering web addresses, Firefox Home will also share links via email.

It could take Apple days, weeks or months to approve — or possibly reject — the app.


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