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Friday, September 23rd, 2005, 4:31 am

Google Goes Firefox-Only?

Firefox in the dock

UNTIL some time ago, the official Google Toolbar was only available for Internet Explorer. There were third-party substitutes, however, as I previously discussed in some depth.

One such third-party solution is the GoogleBar, which has an experimental feature exploiting Google Suggest. To those who do not know, Google Suggest involves a typical search box, with a drop-down list filled with suggestions for search term completion, where prevalance/saturation of results implies precedence. For example, if one was to type in “Star W”, a suggestion might be made for the term “Star World” or “Star Wars”.

The GoogleBar Google Suggest feature was buggy and never seemed to work reliably. As the Google Blog suggests this morning, the Google Toolbar now incorporates a new powerful feature. That feature does exactly what the GoogleBar aimed to achieve, namely provide a drop-down of suggestions in the toolbar, yet it does so reliably. More surprisingly, that feature from Google is only available to Firefox users.

The move surprises me as Google appeared to have favoured or catered for Microsoft’s products before complementing that with support for Mac, Linux, or various powerful browsers such as Mozilla Firefox and Opera. I went as far as contacting Google’s Code Manager a couple of weeks ago. He told me that kind support to platforms is yet to be seen, but software which is complete already should not be held back because of insufficient inter-operability.

In my humble opinion and perhaps for the first time, it seems as if Google put Firefox at a higher priority than Internet Explorer. This might mean something. Opera’s strategic move, which made their browser absolutely free, was possibly backed by revenue owing to Google.

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