Firefox readies Bing edition to scare Google

The Mozilla Foundation appears to be reminding Google of what the future could bring, launching a customised version of the popular Firefox browser that changes the default search engine to Microsoft's Bing.

The launch of Firefox with Bing, created in partnership with Microsoft, comes as Mozilla's contract with Google comes up for renewal.

The contract is of vital importance to the Mozilla Foundation: the Foundation's 2010 financial report indicates that 98 per cent of all its revenue comes directly from its agreement to make Google's search engine the default service in Firefox.

With that contract coming up for renewal, the Foundation is clearly issuing a warning to Google: sign on the dotted line, or watch as our users switch over to Bing.

"Today we’re teaming with Mozilla to release Firefox with Bing, a version of the popular Web browser that includes default search settings for Bing. Now Firefox users who are Bing enthusiasts can use Firefox with Bing to use the Web the way they want without having to take extra steps to navigate or customize their settings to Bing," Microsoft's Tor Steiner says of the deal.

"Firefox with Bing offers the latest version of Firefox with Bing set as your home page and the default setting in the search box and AwesomeBar - where you can also type in queries as well as Web addresses."

For those who already have Firefox installed, there's a Bing Search for Firefox Add-on that makes the same changes in existing copies.

The release comes two years after prominent Mozilla Foundation member Asa Dotzler raised concerns over Google's advertising activities, suggesting that Firefox users who valued their privacy should switch over to Bing.

There's no current indication that the Foundation intends to replace Google with Bing in the 'standard' Firefox version, but the fact that a 'Firefox with Bing' edition is waiting in the wings is clearly a warning shot across Google's bow.

Firefox with Bing is available from the Microsoft-owned official site.