IBM says 'I do' to Firefox

The decision by Big Blue gives Firefox an immediate boost in usage

Chalk up a huge win for Firefox in the war against Microsoft’s Internet Explorer – IBM is telling all of its 400,000 employees to make Firefox their default Web browser.

While Firefox is the browser of choice for a sizable 23.81% chunk of the market, Firefox just lost some share to the suddenly surging Internet Explorer (See related story: Microsoft IE gains browser market share).

But the decision by Big Blue gives Firefox an immediate boost in usage as well as an endorsement from one of the most trusted, historic names in business technology.

Firefox vs Chrome vs Internet Explorer

IBM made no official announcement, but Robert Sutor, vice president of open source and Linux at IBM, wrote a blog post Thursday titled “Saying it out loud: IBM is moving to Firefox as its default browser.” Sutor has worked for IBM since 1982.

“Like many individuals and members of organizations, IBMers use their browsers a lot for conducting business,” Sutor writes. “Our desktop and laptop software environments have some common applications but also software specific to do our various jobs. And these jobs are varied, as there are about 400,000 IBM employees around the world. Some of the software we all use shouldn’t surprise you since we make it, such as Lotus Notes, Lotus Sametime, and Lotus Symphony. We’re officially adding a new piece of software to the list of default common applications we expect employees to use, and that’s the Mozilla Firefox browser.”

Sutor doesn’t say whether Internet Explorer was previously IBM’s default browser, or whether IBM even had a default browser before today.

But IBM employees using Internet Explorer, Chrome, Safari, or whatever will be strongly encouraged to switch to Firefox.

“Any employee who is not now using Firefox will be strongly encouraged to use it as their default browser,” Sutor writes. “All new computers will be provisioned with it. We will continue to strongly encourage our vendors who have browser-based software to fully support Firefox. … It is not news that some IBM employees use Firefox. It is news that all IBM employees will be asked to use it as their default browser. … Firefox is enterprise ready, and we’re ready to adopt it for our enterprise.”

Why is IBM so enamored with Firefox? Sutor lists the reasons:

* “Firefox is stunningly standards compliant, and interoperability via open standards is key to IBM’s strategy.”

* “Firefox is open source and its development schedule is managed by a development community not beholden to one commercial entity.”

* “Firefox is secure and an international community of experts continues to develop and maintain it.”

* “Firefox is extensible and can be customized for particular applications and organizations, like IBM.”

* “Firefox is innovative and has forced the hand of browsers that came before and after it to add and improve speed and function.”

The statement that Firefox is “not beholden to one commercial entity” illustrates concern about Internet Explorer being produced by Microsoft, and perhaps about the open source Chrome being controlled by Google, and Safari being controlled by Apple.

But Sutor also seems to think that Firefox is simply more technologically advanced than its rivals.

“While other browsers have come and gone, Firefox is now the gold standard for what an open, secure, and standards-compliant browser should be,” Sutor writes. “We’ll continue to see this or that browser be faster or introduce new features, but then another will come along and be better still, including Firefox.”

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