Google dumps Firefox from download bundle, swaps in Chrome

Mozilla's browser now an optional download with Chrome out of beta

Google Friday replaced Mozilla's Firefox with its own Chrome as the default browser in the English version of Google Pack, the search company's application bundle for Windows.

On Thursday Google dropped the "beta" label from Chrome, the browser it introduced three months ago, and issued the first production version for Windows XP and Vista.

Google Pack is a one-download collection of Google-made and third-party applications that includes Google Desktop, Google Earth, Picasa, Adobe Reader and Norton Security Scan.

Firefox remains on the list, but is not selected for download as part of Google Pack by default. Instead, the box beside it is left unchecked. That's a change from Thursday, according to an earlier version of Google Pack's download page cached by Google itself, which shows Firefox as the bundle's only browser.

Non-English versions of Google Pack, however, continue to offer Firefox, including the German- and French-language editions. Chrome is available in localized versions for about 40 different languages, German and French among them.

Mozilla has had a lucrative relationship with Google over the years. In 2007, for example, 88 percent of Mozilla's revenues , to the tune of about US$60 million, came from its deal with Google. The search company pays Mozilla for assigning it as the default search engine in Firefox, and for click-throughs on ads placed on the ensuing search results pages.

Mozilla renewed the deal with Google in August when the two inked a three-year contract that ends in November 2011.

Thursday, before Google swapped Chrome for Firefox, Mozilla's CEO welcomed the rival to the market.

"It's great to see them get to 1.0 and will mean more choices for users," said Mozilla chief executive John Lilly, in an e-mailed statement. Lilly also took the opportunity to plug his company's own browser. "Firefox 3 use has grown quickly over the last few months and we're excited to release 3.1 early next year ... competition is clearly creating better browsers than ever."

Mozilla did not immediately reply to questions Friday, including whether Lilly's take of Thursday still holds now that Google has dropped Firefox from the default download bundle.

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Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
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