As noted by Bob Sutor, an IBM employee, Mozilla Firefox will now be the default browser for the entire staff at IBM. He stated that a few thousand employees used Firefox by choice on their Linux, Mac and Windows machines, but the browser will now be installed by default on all their laptop and desktop images, extending to their ~400,000 employees.
Sutor has even stated,
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.
This is significant because, working as a computer technician for a local school board in the past, we had to run software such as IBM/Tivoli Remote Deployment Manager and IBM/TLC School Connect to provision Windows images to broken thin-clients and manage their Active Directory set up, respectively. When I used my Ubuntu laptop to connect, Firefox would struggle to display a couple pages and I would be forced to use a working thin-client just to connect.
Did it make sense that School Connect only worked with Internet Explorer? Well, maybe, since it connects to a Windows-only Active Directory server, but that’s really restricting your audience, like DRM for web browsers (you buy an MP3 on an iPod and you can only play that MP3 on an iPod, not any other music player or device). Was this Firefox’s fault? No. I looked at the source code (don’t forget, I’m a web developer) and noticed the software’s dependence on archaic Microsoft technologies and closed standards. IBM pushing Firefox internally will only force this software monolith to program web-based software with open standards, which will allow fair competition between web browsers and not lock any user out from using their software (including us dolorous computer technicians). I am hoping this will also push my local school board and former employer into not only adding Firefox to their Windows images, but making Firefox their default browser for thousands of students and staff in due time. I have noted to the Manager of Information Technology, my former boss, that Google has dropped their support for Internet Explorer 6, so at least they’ll be getting rid of that non-open-standard-complying piece of
I find this not only a win for Firefox, but a win for open standards in web development, allowing us web developers to breathe a little easier while programming and designing web sites, knowing that all our features are supported once it is released into the wild.