Mozilla, the struggling software developer, has accused dominant browser makers – Apple, Google, and Microsoft – of using shortcuts to win more users and push them away from independent tools like Firefox.
According to Mozilla, a software community founded in 1998 and developing exclusively free software, including the Firefox web browser, “dominant players” seek to “control the browser that people use.”
“The right way to win users is to build a better product, but shortcuts can be irresistible – and there’s a long history of companies leveraging their control of devices and operating systems to tilt the playing field in favor of their own browser,” said Moziila in a blog post.
The company said that the major browser makers usually make it harder for users to download and use a different browser. They also ignore or reset a user’s default browser preference or, for example, require the use of the first-party browser engine for third-party browsers.
In a move that is, in essence, calling out Google and its Chrome, Microsoft’s Edge, and Apple’s Safari, Mozilla launched a new issue tracker where the firm intends to document the ways in which platforms put Firefox at a disadvantage.
“We think it’s time to publish these concerns using the same transparent process and tools we use to develop positions on emerging technical standards,” said the company.
For instance, Mozilla says it’s unfair that Apple is forbidding third-party browser engines and restricting the user’s ability to bring their data with them to another browser when switching from Safari.
Some Windows features launch Microsoft Edge instead of the user’s default browser even though the choice should be respected, Mozilla said. Google and its Chrome browser are the same – some Android features launch on Chrome instead of the user’s default browser.
“People deserve choice, and choice requires the existence of viable alternatives. Alternatives and competition are good for everyone, but they can only flourish if the playing field is fair. It’s not today, but it’s also not hard to fix if the platform vendors wish to do so,” said Mozilla.
It’s difficult for the niche Firefox browser to compete with what the giants are offering, and it’s beginning to show. By the summer of 2010, Firefox reached its high point of 34.1% of the market, but it’s been downhill since then – Mozilla’s browser only makes up 2.2% of the US market.
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