IBM betrays Microsoft with web browser switch

IBM is sticking the knife into Microsoft and giving it a good twist with a decision to drop Internet Explorer as the default web browser for its nearly half a million employees, replacing it with Mozilla’s Firefox.

The news was announced today by Bob Sutor, vice president of Open Source and Linux at IBM, on his bog, where he said that they “expect employees to use … the Mozilla Firefox browser.”

He said that some employees already use it, particularly “because it was new and fast and cool.” Now, however, it is being made mandatory, dropping Microsoft’s ill-fated net browser, which has seen nothing but bad luck lately.

Sutor gave big compliments to Mozilla on its web browser, saying that “Firefox is now the gold standard for what an open, secure, and standards-compliant browser should be.” He gave several reasons why IBM chose it as its default, saying that Firefox is “stunningly standards compliant”, which is “key to IBM’s strategy”. He said it was open source and not controlled by a single commercial entity, and also secure, extensible, and a leader in terms of speed and function.

Another reason cited for the switch is IBM’s commitment to Cloud Computing. Sutor said that the open standards of Firefox are essential for successfully shifting to the cloud. 

He went on to say that “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.”

IBM even went so far as to recommend other users switch to Firefox for at home and in the office: “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.”

IBM played down the fact that it was replacing Microsoft’s browser by simply not mentioning it at all, but it’s hard not to see this as a snub to its old consort-come-rival.