Saying it out loud: IBM is moving to Firefox as its default browser

I talk a lot about software in this blog but most of the discussion is at the personal level: I tried this, I experimented with that. I hardly ever talk about what I use for doing my IBM business and more rarely still do I talk about IBM’s internal policies about software use. This entry is different, and gives you a bit of a view inside the company.

Like many individuals and members of organizations, IBMers use their browsers a lot for conducting business. 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.

Firefox logo

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.

Firefox has been around for years, of course. Today we already have thousands of employees using it on Linux, Mac, and Windows laptops and desktops, but we’re going to be adding thousands more users to the rolls.

Some of us started using it because it was new and fast and cool. I tried it for those reasons, but I still use it for the following ones:

  • 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.

While other browsers have come and gone, Firefox is now the gold standard for what an open, secure, and standards-compliant browser should be. 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.

I think it was Firefox and its growth that reinvigorated the browser market as well as the web. That is, Firefox forced competitors to respond. Their software has gotten better and we have all benefited. We’ll see this again as Firefox continues to add even more support for HTML5.

So what does it mean for Firefox to be the default browser inside IBM? Any employee who is not now using Firefox will be strongly encouraged to use it as their default browser. 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.

We’ll offer employee education and point our people to great online information, all of which will look wonderful in Firefox. IBM has contributed to the Firefox open source effort for many years and we’ll continue to do so.

There’s another reason we want to get as many of our employees using Firefox as soon as possible, and that is Cloud Computing. For the shift to the cloud to be successful, open standards must be used in the infrastructure, in the applications, and in the way people exchange data.

The longstanding commitment of Mozilla to open standards and the quality of the implementation of them in Firefox gives us confidence that this is a solid, modern platform that should be part of IBM’s own internal transformation to significantly greater use of Cloud Computing. Examples of this already include Blue Insight, an internal cloud for business analytics, and LotusLive, for online collaboration.

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.

As you think about the browser you use at home and at work, consider the reasons we have stated for our move. It’s your choice, obviously, but Firefox is enterprise ready, and we’re ready to adopt it for our enterprise.


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