Ubuntu Announces Yahoo/Microsoft is New Default Search Provider

January 27, 2010

Yesterday, Rick Spencer from Canonical, the organization that develops Ubuntu, announced that they would be switching Firefox’s default search provider to Yahoo. This is the result of a negotiated revenue sharing contract, which will help fund further development.

Before going on, it is important to note that I am all for Ubuntu becoming profitable. I think the ease of Ubuntu Linux is great, because it really does work mostly out of the box. This means it can attract a number of less technical users, as well as providing a Distro for those who want the benefits of Linux, but don’t have time to get their hands dirty.

With that said, I am a little amused that the default provider is now Yahoo, given that in July Microsoft and Yahoo announced that Microsoft would be taking over Yahoo Search.

A Little Background on the Deal and Yahoo’s “Natural Results”

In a deal, which was set up back in July, Microsoft agreed to power Yahoo Search, while providing Yahoo with the majority of advertising revenue for the first few years. This would mean switching out Yahoo Search results for Bing Search Results, as well as changing the Yahoo Advertising Program.

Ultimately, the fact that someone else is handling Yahoo Search is a good thing, as up until the end of the year, Yahoo’s “natural search results” were not natural at all and instead sold to the highest bidder. I understand that this program has ended, or is going to, but it doesn’t change the fact that Yahoo has been violating the trust of its users for many years.

Don’t get me wrong, I am sure selling your “natural results” is terribly effective marketing, very lucrative, and the dream of any advertising agency, but most people never realized how Yahoo was/is manipulating search results. Further, given the demographic of those who use Yahoo, typically older and less computer savvy, Yahoo’s manipulation becomes even more hidden from their base users.

So, if allowing Microsoft to take over Yahoo’s search results is what it takes to make them even just a little more honest, I am all for it.

How I Feel About This Change

As I said before, I am all for Ubuntu becoming profitable and I had always assumed, apparently incorrectly, that they got a cut of the earnings from either Firefox or Google for setting Google Search as the default. However, with that said, Google does give back to the Linux Community in a lot of other ways, so it is not like they are only taking and never giving.

Further, the deal hasn’t gone through yet, so Microsoft hasn’t taken over Yahoo Search, but it is expected to occur at some point during early 2010, which will ultimately mean that Microsoft will become the default search provider for Ubuntu.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not so blind as to hate everything Microsoft, in part because I offer Windows Computer Repair, but also because they have had a major impact on the direction of the technology industry, which was sometimes good. Of course, they have done a lot of bad things too, such as their spreading of Linux Fud, subverting Open Source Projects, and being a patent troll.

As such, I am not too excited about Microsoft becoming the Default Search Provider for Ubuntu, even if it is branded differently.

Instead, I would much rather see Google step up to the plate. However, given Google is creating their own competing web browser, while already pulling some arguably cheap shots, and that most people who use Linux probably don’t use Yahoo anyway, I am not so sure they will. However, if it means another area where Google Dominates Microsoft, who knows…

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