Google tells IE users to get Firefox

Starting today, Google’s homepage is running an ad for Firefox with Google Toolbar that is only displayed to Internet Explorer users (currently only in the US). Fantastic! Let’s hope it makes millions of people download Firefox.

I wonder what Microsoft’s response to this will be. Wouldn’t it be great if they responded by fixing the remaining CSS bugs and implementing the missing parts of CSS 2.1 in IE7 before it ships? ;-)

More info and a screenshot in Google Promo for Firefox at Spread Firefox. (via Sitepoint Blogs)

Posted on April 26, 2006 in Browsers, Quicklinks


  1. This is great news! Not only because I like the browser but also because if I could tell people that “IE only has half the market” I could more easily convert people to the standards “think”.

  2. Very Nice. Here’s something Microsoft did just recently

    Hope you don’t mind the linl, more then welcome to remove it.

  3. Roger, I get called to help with people’s computers on a fairly regular basis. And I am finding more and more people I would never expect to be running Firefox are running Firefox: Non-techie realtors, lawyers, grandmothers, church receptionists.

    My wife and I were discussing this issue last night. She asked “Are they installing it themselves?” My answer was “Who cares? Someone installed it and they seem happy.” So it really doesn’t matter HOW they got Firefox. They’re using it and liking it.

    My wife asked me “Why did you install it on my machine?” and I responded, “Adblock. You would be shocked at this point how much silly animation there is on the internet if I switched you back to IE. Shocked.”

    I would not want to be the IE Program Manager.

  4. It would be nice, but I don’t think CSS 2.1 issues will have a big effect on Internet Explorer’s marketshare, or Microsoft’s bottom line :)

  5. Hahaha! I can just see Ballmer roaring in rage right now, pacing around like a gorilla, hurling chairs all over the office, swearing to **ing kill Google…

  6. April 27, 2006 by Sascha

    A big “Ey Microsoft, Google is on our side haha”. But im wondering why is google doing that?

  7. That explains why I can’t see it, but I wonder why they’ve made it US only anyway.

  8. I am using Windows XP Service Pack 2. The only browser that really passes the Acid2 Test (displayed on my computer) is Opera 9 Beta, not Firefox. However, the extensions for Firefox are cool. I love them.

  9. Yeah it will definetly increase the Firefox market share! So the developers could someday stop worrying about IE hacks… Google is on it’s way to teasing Microsoft.

  10. April 27, 2006 by Christian

    Hmm, I think i’ll put up a “Stop the madness, get IE instead”-banner on my page. I never been a fan of FF, the only reason I have it installed is for checking out the webpages I develop will look ok. I have two plugin installed, the web developer toolbar, used less for every day and using IE toolbar instead, and a plugin to get the weather forecast. Pretty silly because I can just look outside the window to see the weather.

    I really can’t see why this is a good think. A lot of webpages from developers that “follow the standards” have pages that look like crap in IE. “It’s because IE suck, and MS suck even more”. Whatever, I don’t think that is an excuse to develop crappy code. If you can’t develop a webpage that look ok in both IE and FF and follow standards …. you really should do something else.

  11. April 27, 2006 by Florian

    It’s not about standards. The Google homepage has no DTD, makes use of layout tables, font tags, spacer images (w/out source), proprietary attributes and let its ids start with a digit.

  12. Well, but Google’s motivation and intention is surely not related to Webstandards. “Webstandards” apparently stays just a search result for Google (as I already complained in Matt Cutt’s blog).

  13. Thien Nguyen: Last time I checked, Safari passes the Acid test too! =)

  14. There has been a lot of press on this over the past couple of days. I didn’t see it myself but I think it was an awesome gesture from Google. Google has publicly shown their support for Firefox and they even used it during the Keynote at the 2006 CES.

    Great stuff.

  15. April 27, 2006 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)


    If you can’t develop a webpage that look ok in both IE and FF and follow standards …. you really should do something else.

    Agreed. But wouldn’t it be fantastic if IE could do what the other browsers do and just work? Imagine how much time we could spend on better things than bug hunting.

  16. April 28, 2006 by sandstrom

    This is just wonderful! To bad I got a mac now, and cant see for myself.. or does it work if I identify as IE (useragent string)?

  17. I think it’s childish. these things may happen in kindergarten, but not with grownup adults. it’s my opinion.

    People have to choose for themselfs, and many people like internet explorer. I also run it, but i also have FireFox and also Opera. Opera is much, much, better then firefox. But that doesnt say that you “should” use Opera. No man… if one is going to make the same policies as micro$oft, they are no different.

  18. April 28, 2006 by Ryan

    This is a good thing, IE is by far the worst browser available so by making people aware of a better option can only be a good thing. Clearly they can’t promote other equaly good browsers as that wouldn’t be of much use for their partnership with Mozilla.


    If you’re a web developer then you should know for a fact designing standards based code properly wont work right 99% of the time in IE. I don’t think its the developers job to fix problems IE causes but due to Microsoft we forced in to it as there’s no other realistic choice. As far as I care it’s Microsofts job to fix the problems which increase our development time and costs.


    What’s childish is Microsoft refusing to play ball with web developers who require IE to work properly.

  19. @Ryan,

    With Firefox, i do not like the rendering engine they still use. I am font of Firefox and Opera, i like it much better then IE, but i can not say that IE is bad, maybe in some ways, like CSS properties that are not supported and PNG transparency (that’s a real pity).

    But the main thing is, i build everything on FF, and if one does that, it works 99% in IE also. So why this fuss? I don’t care which user uses IE or FF.

  20. @Mo:

    He said on his computer (Win), and what I recall, Konqueror was the first one to pass the test. Wonder when Firefox will.

    Sure, this is a bit childish of Google, but I really want to cut the makers of IE in tiny pieces and feed them to raccoons or something, because that’s not a real browser..

    IE7 seems to be a real browser though, I wouldn’t have something against people using it.

  21. April 29, 2006 by Pineapple

    I really can’t see why this is a good think. A lot of webpages from developers that “follow the standards” have pages that look like crap in IE. “It’s because IE suck, and MS suck even more”. Whatever, I don’t think that is an excuse to develop crappy code. If you can’t develop a webpage that look ok in both IE and FF and follow standards …. you really should do something else.

    Good code works in IE, Firefox, and Opera.

    Crappy code works in IE.

  22. April 30, 2006 by dig412

    The IE developers arnt the ones who should take the blame. I ended up on the IE blog a while ago, and they evem had a link to a javascript library that makes IE follow standards more accurately, and said they are going to use some of the ideas from it. Its the bosses at Microsoft who took the css spec and stuck a load of propiatary features in and made it fit what they wanted to do.

  23. The answer to what will Microsoft’s response will be is.. well.. you pretty much andwered that question. They’re gonna need to keep IE7 afloat AFTER its release too(People seem to forget that).

  24. May 2, 2006 by [tbh]

    Jungsonn -

    “People have to choose for themselfs, and many people like internet explorer.”

    You are right - and people still can choose for themselves. All this is doing is alerting people that there IS a choice. For the majority of people who buy a Windows system, IE is all they know, it’s so integrated that many of them don’t even understand the concept of a browser as an application, they just think IE is a part of the OS (which effectively it is).

    Informing people is not the same as forcing people - Google is doing the first, MS is trying to do the second. In an ideal world Windows would come with three or four of the top browsers pre-installed and would give users the ability to choose which browser they want on first boot (along with a description of the pros and cons of each) and make it very clear and easy for people to change that browser whenever they want.

    Unfortunately we don’t live in an ideal world and the best we can hope for is that people will continue to educate on this subject. I don’t hate IE but I do wish it worked out of the box with decent CSS support (not just supporting stuff that should have been working 5 years ago, but supporting new standards too so we can actually start to move forward, not continually struggle to stay in the same place).

    I always make my sites work across the major revisions of IE, FF and Opera (and Safari where possible, though testing can be an issue), but when I think how much more I could do with my time and resources if they all worked the right way…

    I don’t want to see IE wiped out - far from it, but if they take a bloody nose from this and improve their standards support as a result, I’ll be happy (I’m only sorry that such a huge company with the resources of MS can’t get this right first time),

  25. May 17, 2006 by DELOCH

    Nah, I think google made an awful decision since IE6 owns both FF and IE7,

    1) tabbed browsing is annoyinh 2) Downloading is harder 3) Renders my XHTML improperly 4) Does not allow XHTML to be validated 5) Ugly and awful

    I think that google’s advertisement is stupid and is annoying since everyone wastes their page spece to put it on it,

    Firefox must R.I.P (Rot In Pain)

  26. @DELOCH

    Which branch of Microsoft do you work for?

  27. July 5, 2006 by Matt


    1) Don’t use it then, it is optional 2) For who, IE doesn’t even have a D/L manager 3) Your XHTML isn’t valid then or you don’t actually know what the correct output for your code should look like 4) What FF, on what planet, I have at least 6 different validators through various plugins, i have none for IE. 5) Matter of opinion, yours but not mine and many others.

    IE 6 = lazy, badly programed, buggy, non-standardized rubbish = AKA typical MS software release

    Oh an all my sites rended in both IE FF and are 100% XHTML 1.0 strict..go figure

Comments are disabled for this post (read why), but if you have spotted an error or have additional info that you think should be in this post, feel free to contact me.