Seems like some of you objected to my use of the term "sneaky" to describe the change made to the install routine of Firefox 3.0 RC1, while others thought I was being too easy on Mozilla.
Two emails from the Hardware 2.0 mailbag:
What's "sneaky" about the install process for Firefox 3??? If you can't or don't want to read the screens than that's your problem!
I think it's interesting that while you tore into Apple for making Safari available through the Apple Software Updater to iTunes users you choose to give Mozilla a get-out-of-jail-free card and only label this malware-like move as "sneaky."
First, some background. As most Firefox users will be aware, the choice as to whether Firefox was set as the default browser used to be set at the time when the browser was first run (this was true of Firefox 1.5, 2.0 and 3.0 beta - I can't remember further back than 1.5 though ... maybe someone else can remind me if the process was the same). Starting with Firefox 3.0 RC1 the default browser setting has been rolled into the install routine. As expected, the option is pre-checked:
So, why did I call this sneaky? Simple - because it caught me out, and not many things catch me out! I've carried out hundreds, if not thousands, of Firefox installs and handled each and every beta release of Firefox 3.0 and the install process has become second nature to me. This time, it caught me out and I only spotted what had happened when Internet links on my desktop that had previously been marked by the Big Blue E suddenly changed to the Firefox logo. Sure, I probably should have been paying more attention, but I wasn't. I guess I trusted Mozilla.
So why has the Firefox development team gone and made this change between the beta of Firefox 3.0 and the Release Candidate? Simple, it's because the old method made it far too easy for people to download Firefox, even install Firefox, but to then forget about it and never even run it. Also, when people are faced with a dialog box asking a simple Yes/No question, I guess that people were being conservative and choosing not to make Firefox the default browser. The only reason to change this process now would be that Mozilla feels that this move will help it turn some of those downloaders that aren't committed to running Firefox into regular users.
Mozilla's own product planning document for Firefox 3.0 states that one of the objectives for the browser should be to "continue to increase usage share and broaden the Firefox audience" - seems like this change in the install routine is one way that Mozilla plan to use to increase market share.
Is this move deceptive? No, I can't say that it is, especially compared to Apple's move in pushing Safari through the software update mechanism. I don't like it, and this move offers yet another reason for me to hate the entire browser industry, but it's no deal-breaker. Browser makers only care about one thing - market share. It's all about a fight for market share, and in this big land grab the users are caught in the middle.
That aside, I'm still on track to make a complete switch over to Firefox 3.0 as soon as it hits final release. It's an excellent browser.