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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  1. Ouch! another hit for IE. Few weeks ago Google also encouraged their employees to be away from IE.

  2. As to Chrome…

    Google Chrome is an interesting and relatively young browser under active development. It is following in Firefox’s footsteps by showing the importance of open standards compliance.

    IBM has contributed significantly to Firefox’s accessibility features. Ultimately, we went with Firefox as the default browser because of its maturity, cross-platform support, accessibility features, security, extension architecture, and independence.

  3. What does it mean to be the default browser? Well, there are systems settings so that when an application displays a link, Firefox will launch when the link is clicked. This will encourage even greater use of Firefox and eases IBMers’ transition to Firefox as their primary browsing environment. The user can then take advantage of many Firefox extensions that IBM have developed for internal use.

  4. “This is really interessting – let me ask you some questions: how are yu going to deal with policies, updates etc.? As far as I know IE is the only browser that can be managed thru a central point (AD/SCCM/SMS) etc.?! What restrictions will there be when it comes to AddOns?

    Thanks and greetings from Munich”

    I would say that is a windows problem – all linux distributions all have management capabilities built into them you just have to build you own software repository and be done with it.

    So I would say go ask microsoft how they plan to meet their customers demands and start pacakaging firefox with their software.

  5. Many years ago, I used to be on the team that built the standard desktops for IBM Canada. I recall when Netscape was made the standard, replacing Web Explorer.

  6. I think this is excellent news and goes along way to helping promote the strength and value of opensource.

    A message that I try to champion at every opportunity although this is, unfortunately, an uphill battle at times.

    Now all we need is to encourage the development of IBM tooling for linux on smart phones/netbooks running such as Android, Maemo/Meego etc and it will make a fairly compelling picture for customers to be able to use common applications across a range of different platforms.


  7. It was about time! Hoorray!

  8. Is IBM gonna use Firefox 4.0 when it goes final?

    Posted from Minefield(Firefox) 4.0b2pre nightly build

  9. i hate IE, firefox is better in every way.

  10. Regarding Firefox 4, it’s not even available yet. We and millions of other people will take a good look at it when it comes out.

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