Mozilla has announced that Microsoft’s upstart Bing search engine will soon become a default part of Firefox’s search bar. When Firefox 4 arrives it will feature some slight changes to the list of included search engines, offering, in order: Google (default), Yahoo, Bing, Amazon, eBay and Wikipedia.
Bing is a new option, though savvy users have long been able to install a Bing search plugin on their own. Now, it will be much easier to access by clicking on the drop-down list in the browser’s built-in search box.
Microsoft’s search engine continues to make inroads against Google, and while Microsoft has had a search product for years, it’s taken a long time to make its way onto Firefox’s short list. Mozilla vice president of products Jay Sullivan says Bing’s inclusion now is based on its “significant rise in popularity over the past year.”
Google’s engine will still be the default option for Firefox users. Google remains a primary source of income for the Mozilla — the two companies share the revenue generated by Google searches typed from within Firefox’s search box.
The new search engine default list removes the Answers.com and the Creative Commons search engine choices. Answers.com is disappearing because, according to Mozilla, “we have heard from our users that Wikipedia is more useful as an included reference search engine.”
The Creative Commons search engine is being removed because the search tool itself has changed from something that searches just CC licensed materials to a more general search engine that duplicates what’s found in Google, Yahoo and others. Mozilla is careful to point that the foundation “will continue to actively support [the Creative Commons] organization and mission through grants and joint programs,” but not, apparently, its search engine.
Of course users are still free to install any of the thousands of search plugins for the sites they’d like — we’re fans of the Flickr CC search plugin and the Speckly torrent search plugin — but making the default plugins list means more traffic for those lucky sites.
In Bing’s case it also means an important new avenue to perhaps pull a few users away from Google.