Mozilla rolls out the latest version of Firefox on Monday. Although the non-profit organization introduced Firefox 34 with little fanfare, the new web browser comes with a number of major changes that Mozilla hopes will take the Firefox experience to a whole new level.
Chief among these changes is the shift from Google to Yahoo as the default search engine in Firefox. The change is no surprise, as Mozilla announced two weeks ago that its 10-year partnership with Google was about to expire and that the organization was taking it as an "opportunity to review our competitive strategy and explore our options."
It makes sense for Firefox to switch from Google to Yahoo. After all, Google also has its own web browser and it isn't wise for Mozilla to depend entirely on the advertising revenue brought in by the search leader for a huge chunk of its finances. Although Google delivers millions of dollars to Mozilla, it will always try to lure Firefox users away to switch over to Chrome.
"When you have a partnership that has competitive aspect to it, it does require a lot of time and attention and focus," Mozilla chairwoman Mitchell Baker says. "We're utterly confident in our stability and viability going forward."
While Firefox means well with the switch to Yahoo, many Firefox users will most likely not be pleased. Google owns majority of the American search market share, with 67.5 percent of all searches conducted on Google, according to research firm comScore. Microsoft's Bing comes in a distant second with 18.6 percent, while Yahoo, which is powered by Bing, owns only 10.1 percent.
Mozilla tells ComputerWorld that the switch will only affect users who have not changed the default search settings on Firefox. For instance, if a user has tweaked his settings to change the default search engine to Bing, he will not see changes in the default search engine once he installs Firefox 34. However, since many users don't tinker with the default settings because they are content with having Google as the default search engine, many users will see the Yahoo default search engine roll out when they upgrade to the latest version of Firefox.
Still, users will be able to switch back the default search engine if they wish by clicking the magnifying glass icon on the Firefox search bar and clicking on Change Search Settings. For users who don't want to be bothered with changing their settings, they can also use a Firefox plugin called Google Default to keep Firefox from switching over to Yahoo when the change rolls out.
The switch to Yahoo is not the only significant change. In other countries, Mozilla has instituted different default search engines, such as Yandex for Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan and Baidu for China. Users can now also search dynamically, with Firefox showing suggestions as the user types in a new letter in the search bar. Additionally, they can also use one-click searches, where they can choose what search engine they'd like to search on from the search bar.
Another significant change for Mozilla is Firefox Hello, which Firefox describes as "the first global communications system built directly into a browser." Firefox Hello uses WebRTC, which provides support for real-time voice and video communications on a web browser.
On Firefox for Android, which will roll out slowly over the coming days, Mozilla now allows users to mirror their browser tabs on their TV screens via Google's Chromecast streaming dongle.