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Dell Pre-Installing Firefox in UK 359

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the and-they-get-battlestar-galactica-first-too dept.
seizer writes "Blake Ross, creator of Firefox, has confirmed on his blog that Dell are now shipping Firefox on all desktop and laptop machines in the UK. While rumours had been floating around before this, and UK buyers had been reporting that 1.0.6 came pre-installed, this is the first official confirmation of Dell's decision. Is the US next?"
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Dell Pre-Installing Firefox in UK

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  • Default browser? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 27, 2005 @12:53PM (#14345486)
    Definately good news, but if it's not the default browser the impact will likely be limited. Most people will use whatever's the default.
    • I can't vouch for the validity of it, but this comment on the linked page looks relevant:

      Interestingly, it was the only web browser icon on the desktop- albeit version 1.0.4, but its a promising start.

    • by Elixon (832904)
      Great news. I'm developing the exclusive CMS based on Mozilla platform. And DELL customers are usually smart enouht to find the way how to run Firefox once it is already installed... ;-)

      This small step is much better then nothing, right?
    • Re:Default browser? (Score:3, Informative)

      by LnxAddct (679316)
      The only web browser icon on the desktop is firefox, and yes it is also the default.
      Regards,
      Steve
    • Re:Default browser? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CarpetShark (865376)

      Agreed. It's whether it's being shipped as the default browser, maybe even with IE disabled, that matters.

      I'm actually surprised that the big PC builders haven't done this before. To me, it makes absolutely no sense to sell computers to the public, have them filled with viruses in a day, and then have the users bring them back to be fixed. You can make money off a bit of that, I guess, but when it's happening on virtually every windows PC sold that connects to the net? It'd be a nightmare.

      Putting fi

    • by labratuk (204918)
      The thing is that even if it is the default browser, to connect to the internet, 95% of users will pop in the cd their ISP sent them, which will almost certainly set it to a (probably branded) version of IE.
      • Re:Default browser? (Score:3, Informative)

        by jabuzz (182671)
        Wrong over 50% of all internet connections in the U.K. are broadband, and I have yet to notice one (with the exception of AOL) that produces a branded version of IE. In fact you generally don't get a CD for that matter either, beyond drivers for a USB or PCI ADSL card. Though increasingly people opt for NAT based ethernet routers, if only for the added protection it provides.
  • Pictures?? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Klanglor (704779) on Tuesday December 27, 2005 @12:54PM (#14345501)
    Anyone seen the version? is it with a custom dell skin? just currious.
  • Wait and see if a hurricaine hits Britain next year. Billy Boy will say that it was God punishing the sinful, wicked infidels.
  • Great First Step (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mordors9 (665662) on Tuesday December 27, 2005 @12:55PM (#14345505)
    If Dell is going to buck Microsoft and install Firefox, perhaps the day is coming when they will openly and consistently offer Linux on their desktop machines as an alternative to Windows. But we will see. Something tells me MS isn't going to take this lying down.
    • by ettlz (639203)
      Yes, but would you buy a machine with Linux pre-installed by some Dell muppet? I wouldn't. However, I would buy a blank one and install it myself. And I don't see how it would be major inconvenience for 'normal' consumers, since most of them have to re-install Windows at some point anyway.
      • That is probably true, but if Linux is pre-installed, then the vendor is saying they will support Linux drivers for the system. I have a Dell laptop that I run Linux on, and although it works well enough, I cannot get it to sleep (I just use hibernate) and it has an SD card slot that is unusable under Linux. Also, it has an ATI graphics card, so leave hardware acceleration off because it locks-up often otherwise.
      • Dell isn't my favorite vendor, but one of the biggest obstacles to desktop (and even moreso, laptop) Linux is the difficulty of getting everything working. If it came pre-installed, perhaps customized for a specific hardware platform, a lot more people would use it.

        This obviously doesn't apply to big IT departments that use a standard image for all PCs. But it would help home and small business users, most of whom don't install their own OS.
        • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

          by MoonBuggy (611105) on Tuesday December 27, 2005 @02:30PM (#14346196) Journal
          A good alternative might be for Dell or (more likely) a third party (for profit or otherwise) to release 'brand specific' Linux distro installation ISOs. Rather than running a standard install script, you download the ISO for your particular model of new big-brand machine and the installer simply writes a disk image onto the hard drive which already has all the appropriate drivers and config settings for the standard hardware. The only question is whether it's worth the effort when most installers are pretty good at figuring it out for themselves now anyway.
    • Re:Great First Step (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 27, 2005 @01:06PM (#14345599)
      They can't "buck" Microsoft by installing Firefox as IE is still installed. It's just giving users an alternative version to use.

      This is a carefully weighted decision based on its ease of support for Dell's staff. Hence we're more likely to see Firefox as a default install, along with iTunes, Realplayer, Winzip and goodness knows what else before we'll ever see Linux offered on the desktop. In any case 99% of prospective Dell buyers don't want Linux on it anyway, and would probably moan that it wasn't Windows if they did choose it...
    • by Morgaine (4316) on Tuesday December 27, 2005 @01:07PM (#14345606)
      perhaps the day is coming when they will openly and consistently offer Linux on their desktop machines

      Well, in case Dell is listening, I am one customer for a Dell laptop with Linux pre-installed (the model that has nVidia graphics, as ATI is totally hopeless with OpenGL).

      I always install my own Linux systems on desktops, but laptops are somewhat different to desktops in that they often have custom features that aren't covered well (or at all) by standard Linux distros.

      A Dell Linux-based laptop with all its hardware features supported would be a very welcome product.
      • "A Dell Linux-based laptop with all its hardware features supported would be a very welcome product."

        Yes! Then I could wipe it and install OpenBSD on it and still have a chance of the additional laptop-specific hardware working (or being easily hackable)! :)

        If only Dell had the balls to actually do it...
    • What are the odds that this was done in secret agreement with MS in response to EU anti trust litigation [slashdot.org]?

      i doubt that's the case, as microsoft and/or the eu would likely make some kind of announcement, since would pertain to litigation, and really, the question of browsers has nothing to do with the litigation at hand, BUT, it's not outside the realm of possibilities

    • Re:Great First Step (Score:5, Informative)

      by NutscrapeSucks (446616) on Tuesday December 27, 2005 @01:42PM (#14345877)
      Your entire post needs a reality check.

      First of all, Dell already bundles RealPlayer, WordPerfect and other software that competes with Microsoft, so tossing Firefox into the mess isn't that big of a step.

      Second, while Dell ships RedHat Linux on it's high-end desktops, most of you whiners don't want to pay for a RedHat subscription anyway. Fortunately Dell will sell most of its desktops bare (without Windows), so you are free to install Ugentou or whatever the linux flavor of the month is.

      Finally, the key victory in the antitrust settlement was that MS must take this lying down. If there was even a wift of them threating an OEM about bundled "middleware", they would be opening themselves to an new round of lawsuits.

      • by Ambush (120586) on Tuesday December 27, 2005 @06:27PM (#14348189)
        Fortunately Dell will sell most of its desktops bare (without Windows), so you are free to install Ugentou or whatever the linux flavor of the month is.
        I call bullshit. Not on you but on Dell, who do offer/sell many of their computers bare however at a price point of almost the same as with Windows. Often considerably more.

        It is highly likely that Dell is still paying for the Windows licence for each and every computer they sell, even if they don't pre-install it for you.

    • by dhasenan (758719) on Tuesday December 27, 2005 @02:51PM (#14346405)
      Microsoft's income based on IE is negligible if not negative. It costs them absolutely nothing for Dell to preinstall Firefox; the only cost is altering the Windows Update site to allow for both browsers--which they're doing anyway.

      Eventually, MS might reach a deal with the Mozilla Foundation to bundle Firefox with Windows, saving them the expense of maintaining IE. Then everyone wins--the users get a better browser and a more secure OS; Microsoft's reputation improves all around; Firefox spreads further; and website designers get redesign their sites to support standards and nix ActiveX controls.

      Where's the problem?
      • by DA-MAN (17442)
        Microsoft's income based on IE is negligible if not negative.

        Bullshit! MSN makes quite a bit of money. IE uses MSN as the default search engine. The ads alone bring in quite a bit of revenue, otherwise Google wouldn't have bought a stake in AOL and had let AOL switch to MSN search technology.

        That default earns them a lot of money in advertising. In addition it sells their technology, such as .Net dev tools and what not.

        It costs them absolutely nothing for Dell to preinstall Firefox; the only cost is alterin
  • Version what? (Score:2, Flamebait)

    Doesn't 1.0.6 have known problems? Is Dell shipping security risks now?
    • Doesn't 1.0.6 have known problems? Is Dell shipping security risks now?

      and IE doesn't??? come on... how many unpatched holes still exist for IE??? Dell could never keep up with it... they'd need a fresh install image every week nearly...

    • Is Dell shipping security risks now?

      Well, considering they ship Windows on (nearly) every machine, I think it's pretty much a moot point.
    • Is Dell shipping security risks now?

      They've been shipping Windows for years, haven't they?

    • Re:Version what? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by MikeWasHere05 (900478)
      Not totally sure why he was modded Flamebait, he has a valid point.

      Yes, you can say by shipping it with Windows they already are shipping it with security risks. But computer manufacturers will ship their computers with what the majority of the users want. The majority of users want Windows, so they get what they want.

      The majority of users do not care what browser they use (see: IE's 84% market share.) In this case, Dell is trying to promote a new browser. They are not including this browser because
  • Yes but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mpapet (761907) on Tuesday December 27, 2005 @01:01PM (#14345563) Homepage
    -Is it installed like the rest of their nagware? (e.g. buried in the menus)

    -Is it the default browser?

    -Will it remain the default browser?

    -Is there an icon on the desktop? (still will probably not switch the trained to click the "e" people.)

    In one way it's very good news.

    I don't think it changes much though once IE7 is available. The IE7 hype for a feature set that Mozilla browsers already have will be deafening.
    • Re:Yes but... (Score:2, Informative)

      by wellard1981 (699843)
      -Is it installed like the rest of their nagware? (e.g. buried in the menus)
      Yes, it's pre-installed.
      -Will it remain the default browser?
      The default browser is still IE
      -Is there an icon on the desktop? (still will probably not switch the trained to click the "e" people.)
      Yes, it's on the desktop with the standard FireFox icon
      .. I only know this because my brother has just got a new dell machine
    • Re:Yes but... (Score:5, Informative)

      by moreati (119629) <alex@moreati.org.uk> on Tuesday December 27, 2005 @01:31PM (#14345795) Homepage
      My sister got one of these, to my surprise, the fox was there.

      There is an icon on the desktop, along with Internet Explorer's and about 30 others. I believe Internet Explorer came as default, but I didn't observe the first seconds directly.

      It seems a standard install, no obvious branding or skinning - the start page has been set to Dell's EULA.

      Neither browser masks the other that I can tell, of course each has it's standard 'I'm not the default' message.
  • by Jugalator (259273) on Tuesday December 27, 2005 @01:02PM (#14345570) Journal
    ... is the day when software bundles is a Good Thing!

    (err, right?)
    • Re:... and today (Score:3, Insightful)

      by lasindi (770329)
      and today is the day when software bundles is a Good Thing!

      (err, right?)


      Yes, when they encourage competition, as happened in this case.
      • So when should we stop? At 2 browsers? 4? 8?

        I for one don't really believe in bundles, but rather the *lack* of them.

        And yes, that includes Microsoft bundles.

        I believe in choice though.
  • by IntelliAdmin (941633) on Tuesday December 27, 2005 @01:10PM (#14345623) Homepage
    If Dell does this all over the world it will have a large impact on IE browser numbers. This is the single largest reason IE/Windows has the largest install base. Think how good Firefox needed to be to get people to take the time and download, install and use over IE. Now it is there by default? Man that will be powerful.
  • Perhaps the new PC could prmopt the user at first login to choose clients for the various protocols. Thunderbird could be available as an alternative to Outlook Express, and some alternatives to the commercial chat programs could also be available. I like that idea.
    • That would be awesome. I don't know if they'll do this because their support contracts will probably complain about the training costs, but it would give the user a lot more choice, and given XP's little mini-setup that comes on when the computer is first turned on, it would be very easy for them to implement.
  • by ronsta (815765) on Tuesday December 27, 2005 @01:11PM (#14345633) Homepage
    I, for one, am outraged. Could you imagine if Microsoft did the same thing and had Internet Explorer installed on every new computer?

    Oh wait... [microsoft.com]
  • One down.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rune2 (547599)
    Now if we could just get them to preinstall OpenOffice.org, offer Linux as a real alternative OS, and (god forbid) even consider offering AMD based systems then we would really be making progress...
  • Why 1.0.6? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Barny (103770) <bakadamage-slashdot@yahoo.com> on Tuesday December 27, 2005 @01:13PM (#14345650) Homepage Journal
    For those wondering why this particular version, it is the latest to support FULL msi options http://forums.mozillazine.org/viewtopic.php?t=1380 33 [mozillazine.org] as listed on the official mozillazine forums.

    However if the people at DELL had of just gone one more click to the guys full site, they would see the latest MSIs built ready for pre-install or corp rollout needs http://www.frontmotion.com/Firefox/ [frontmotion.com].

    Big thanks to "DraconPern" for doing this, OEMer i been working at has been rolling this onto default install for around 14 months now, not had one gripe about bloatware, and quite a few thankyous from people for saveing them the effort :)
  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Tuesday December 27, 2005 @01:17PM (#14345682)

    I set up a bunch of new Dell laptops and set Firefox to be the default browser.

    Much to my chagrin, McAfee (which is pre-installed) has a self-update is almost entirely ActiveX/javascript dependent. It loads about 10 pages in succession, which is rather strange. Even though it "fell down went boom" about 80% of the time in IE because McAfee's servers were continuously overloaded or down (thus resulting IE error pages which you can't continue from- you have to hit 'update' again and wait another 5-10 minutes.)

    The incompetence in the decision to use complex ActiveX/javascript bouncing off 10 different pages and a couple webservers...just to check for effing definition updates...is astounding. Do they really not have anyone capable of writing a decent simple Windows 2k/XP program?

    • First thing anybody should do when setting up a Dell is run MSCONFIG, go to Startup, and disable all. Then, reboot, get rid of the annoying warning reminding of what you just did (thank you Windows!), and uninstall MCafee and every frigging Dell app you can find on there.
          Or install Linux or a BSD :)
      • For the laptops [prolly desktops too] just take any WinXP home CD [OEM or otherwise] and re-install. It's easier and more likely to get rid of the annoying software.

        In my case I used the WinXP Home OEM CD I got for doing some LTC work in Windows... :-)

        Tom
    • . . . in a way.
      Okay, so it's not exactly "working" in Firefox, per se, but you can use this extension [mozilla.org] to resolve the problem.

  • already do this (Score:3, Interesting)

    by brontus3927 (865730) <edwardra3@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Tuesday December 27, 2005 @01:23PM (#14345723) Homepage Journal
    As a small system builder, I've been doing this since Firefox 1.0.1

    When I sell a machine, I install the latest version of Windows, firefox, WinAMP, Norton AV, and OO.o (unless they "upgrade" to MS Office) and set firefox & WinAMP as defaults. I also offer a "bonus" CD with competing products such as Opera, RealPlayer, MusicMatch, and iTunes, and clear, conside directions on how a user would uninstall the software on the computer and replace it with what's on the CD. I also make sure the latest patches, updates, drivers, and virus definitions are installed.

    Of course, I also sell linux boxes priced at the cost of Windows and Norton less than the Windows boxes. For those I just deliver the machine completely clean.

  • I imagine that Dell's support costs for helping people remove spyware are ASTRONOMICAL. And, truly, using Firefox as your browser goes a LONG way towards preventing spyware from being installed. I mean, a lot (most?) spyware comes in the form of ActiveX controls.

    I wonder if McAfee and Norton Internet Security are going to get the axe next? Both of those programs tend to be a major hassle, too. I've always been amazed that Dell would install those programs on every machine, when doing so almost GUARANTEES a
    • It doesn't help that Dell preinstalls a bunch of useless nagware that isn't up to date or "fully functional". Like thanks for McAfee but why not install Anti-vir? The first thing anyone halfway competent does with a Dell box is reinstall windows [or go straight to linux].

      Where is the option to buy a Dell box with a blank drive or some linux distro or windows without all the unwanted doodahs? That'd be a truly useful option.

      Tom
      • I agree. It should be possible to buy a Dell PC with JUST Windows installed, and nothing else. But as far as I can tell, it isn't an option. Hell, these days, you don't even get a restore CD! You have to burn your own, or pay an extra $10 to get an actual XP CD.

        It's Norton Internet Security that really pisses me off, though. I don't think I've ever seen it NOT screw up a machine. I've seen brand-new, out-of-the-box Dells (and others) that won't even BOOT properly until NIS is un-installed from Safe Mode.
        • Sadly what's the alternative. There are a lot of decent laptops floating around [Acers for instance] but you can only really buy them from hole-in-the-wall shops where you're likely not to get a decent warranty out of it.

          Tom
      • Where is the option to buy a Dell box with a blank drive or some linux distro

        Dell n-series [dell.com]
  • Eleven years ago (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ReinoutS (1919) <reinout&gmail,com> on Tuesday December 27, 2005 @01:28PM (#14345774) Homepage
    OS/2 Warp was pre-installed on the machines from large retailers (typically Escom or Vobis). This was almost one year before Windows 95 was released. We all know how that story ended.

    OK, the configuration of OS/2 on those machines (often 486DX2 with 4MB of RAM) was particularly crappy, sharing a FAT partition with DOS and Windows 3.1, but all I'm saying is that pre-installation doesn't imply mass adoption yet.
  • Business users ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by smoker2 (750216) on Tuesday December 27, 2005 @01:29PM (#14345780) Homepage Journal
    Does this include business machines ?

    If so, I don't think it'll make much difference to the number of firefox users, as most large firms I know, who buy from Dell, have IE only web sites and intranets. It will however boost the statistics for Firefox, viz. number of installations.

  • by OctoberSky (888619)
    First Off, I love FireFox and use it every day, it's default on every computer I use except this one (damn you work!).

    Anyway, to play Devils Advocate, does everyone see that this should be considered more bloatware from Dell? I mean, the HardOCP review of Dells gaming rig (last week on /.) proves what everyone says, Dell puts too much crap on their boxes. Well, now thier putting another browser there, albeit a better one. It's technically another thing we (consumers) don't need.

    I am probably going to get fl
  • It'd make my eyes really twinkle if I didn't have to pony up an extra c-note just to remove the preinstalled OS.

    If I want Windows (which I might), I'll purchase a Genuine Windows CD; uh, that is, when they get the x_64 version working. It's in Microsoft Beta - that is, what the rest of us would call Alpha. SuSE 10.0 did a better job of recognizing my hardware right "out of the box", while the XP x_64 not only missed two cards, but refused to install the vendor-supplied (32-bit) drivers for the cards.

    So,

    • Because they know people are stupid enough to think the AMD64 is magically faster even with a 32-bit OS.

      It's true that the AMD64 is faster than the AMD32 [e.g. K7 Athlon-XP series] with 32-bit code. However, to get the most out of it you really need to be in Long mode.

      But 99% of the public doesn't get that. They think because the chip is 64-bit it means it's faster.

      This is why they say things like "128-bit graphics processor" when they mean "higher latency wider data bus" :-)

      And don't get me going on late
  • Dell is playing with fire. Don't get me wrong I really like that they are installing Firefox, and hope it makes it to the US soon. But is it wise to slap the hand that feeds you? MS's support is one of the reasons Dell was able to undercut HP and become number one. Dell also got big support from Intel for rejecting AMD. Out of the two players to piss off I would think piss Intel would be a better move since everyone is going to HP/Sun to get some 64 bit opterons.

    On the flip side HP has been warming up
    • Who is Feeding Who? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by SuperKendall (25149) *
      But is it wise to slap the hand that feeds you?

      We'll find out if Microsoft tries anything. Dell sells a huge volume of servers and other computers to businesses, and if they really threw their hat in the ring in regards to Linux (or even Open Office!) it could actually make a dent in Microsoft.

      There used to be a lot more players in the market in regards to windows box purchases but Dell is really a leader in the market now, and tough for Microsoft to really influence as much anymore.
  • 1.5 is out now and 1.0.7 was out before that.

    I know 1.5 crashes on me while 1.0.7 does not but its more standards compliant and more secure. They could use a more recent version.
    • The one thing I dislike about 1.5 is that since upgrading from 1.0.7, I no longer have a "Manage Bookmarks" item in the context menu when browsing a bookmark folder either from the menu or the toolbar. I now have to actually select "Manage Bookmarks" from the Boomarks menu, which is a real pain. I would almost consider downgrading back to 1.0.7, but I can't find any other problems with 1.5, so I think it would be silly to do over one little feature. But still, it irks me!
  • Amusingly, this move may *hurt* the download statistics of Firefox, as more people get it for "free". Not to imply that less people use it though.
    On the other hand, the browser usage stats could change significantly because of this policy.
  • by fiddlesticks (457600) on Tuesday December 27, 2005 @02:23PM (#14346132) Homepage
    Yep. Much to my surprise, my dad's new Inspiron 1300 came with Firefox on the desktop

    Default home page was google uk

    bookmarks were dell and a coupla other weird OEM ones.

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