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Mozilla mods Firefox to feature Microsoft's MSN

Second customized version in two years with a Redmond tie-in

November 28, 2012 06:40 AM ET

Computerworld - A little more than a year after Mozilla debuted a customized version of Firefox starring Microsoft's Bing search engine, the open-source developer on Tuesday shipped another Microsoft tie-in, Firefox with MSN.

MSN is a Microsoft-owned portal with roots in the company's Internet service that launched alongside Windows 95 nearly two decades ago.

Firefox with MSN uses Bing as the default search engine in both the browser's search box and "Awesome Bar," the dual-use address bar where users can also enter search queries. Firefox with MSN also sets MSN.com as the browser's home page.

Microsoft registered the firefoxwithmsn.com domain -- the customized browser's distribution channel-- in mid-September, and said on the site it was "neither licensing nor distributing Firefox to you."

This was the second specially modified edition of Firefox to feature Microsoft: In October 2011, Mozilla shipped Firefox with Bing, which as its name suggests, touted Microsoft's search engine.

That browser is still available at firefoxwithbing.com.

In a blog post Tuesday, Mozilla noted that it has created almost 20 customized versions of Firefox for partners, including Microsoft, AOL, Twitter, Yahoo and the Russian search service Yandex.

But most of Mozilla's revenue comes not from those companies, but from Chrome.

Last month, the Mozilla Foundation, the not-for-profit organization that oversees Mozilla Corp., the commercial arm that develops Firefox, said income from deals with search companies jumped 31% in 2011. Payments from Google made up 85% of Mozilla's total revenue, or approximately $138 million.

Google and Mozilla struck a new three-year deal in late 2011 that will reportedly pay the browser maker almost $300 million annually to keep its search engine the default in Firefox.

Although Firefox with MSN sports Bing as its default search tool, the standard Firefox -- which is distributed by the millions -- features Google.

Firefox with MSN can be downloaded from Microsoft's site, which redirects to Mozilla's servers.

covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at Twitter @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed Keizer RSS. His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

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