Mozilla will replace the default search engine for some Firefox users
Firefox 98 will be released in early March 2022 and it will include a change that will automatically change the browser’s default search engine to another for some users.
Firefox comes with a number of search engines based on the user’s region. The default search engine is the one that is used automatically when the user types in the address bar or uses other means to search, for example from the New Tab page of the browser.
In most regions, Google search is the default, but in some other search engines such as Baidu or Yandex are the default. Firefox users are free to add search engines to the browser and change the default search engine. If they prefer to use DuckduckGo, Startpage, or Brave Search, they can because the browser supports it.
An article on the Mozilla support website confirms that the default search engine may change for some Firefox users with the release of Firefox 98.
The support article is vague on specifics. It does not mention search engines by name or provide any other details.
According to Mozilla, the change is necessary because it “was unable to obtain formal permission to continue including search engines in Firefox.” Mozilla “gave previously included search engines an opportunity to sign an agreement” and some search engine companies “did not complete the agreement” according to the article.
The nature of the agreement is unknown. It is unclear whether it included financial compensation or other demands. Bugzilla’s bug list is set to private.
firefox ships with a number of search engines, many of which are local search engines available in addition to global ones, others are commercial site search engines. It seems that only these search engines are affected, but there is no confirmation at this stage.
Firefox users affected by the change to the default search engine are notified when launching the browser.
Your default search engine has been changed. Firefox no longer supports NAME. Google is now your default search engine.
Firefox users can add the removed search engine back to the browser after removal; this is a strong point in favor of the theory that the removal only affects built-in search engines, as Mozilla might not allow it otherwise.
The support page lacks information and it’s possible that only a small subset of users will be affected by the change. Mozilla is shooting itself in the foot by omitting important information from the article. Would it be so difficult to list the search engines involved or provide a brief explanation of the agreement the search engine companies had to sign?
This misunderstanding happens frequently. It’s often a storm in a teapot that could have been totally avoided if the communication had been clearer.