back to article Fee fie Firefox: Mozilla's lawyers probe Dell over browser install charge

Mozilla has put its legal department to work on a preliminary investigation into claims that Dell is charging £16 to install freeware browser Firefox on new PCs. Sources told us about Mozilla's plans after we received reports that Dell was asking customers to stump up £16.25 to have the free software pre-installed. Mozilla's …

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  1. wowfood

    Are they blond?

    A Dell spokeswoman said the fee covered the time taken to install Firefox, rather than the product itself.

    The Mozilla product must be without cost and its distribution (whether by download or other media) may not be subject to a fee, or tied to subscribing to or purchasing a service, or the collection of personal information.

    I'm pretty certain that charging for the time taken to install firefox would come under "Distribution may not be subject to a fee"

    And £16.25 to install firefox? Even assuming a slow installation of around 5 minutes, that's touching on £200 an hour.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Are they blond?

      £200 an hour? That's a feasible charge-out rate for an engineer.

      1. Stephen 2

        Re: Are they blond?

        Don't forget that the cost isn't directly limited to the time it takes to install. They likely held meetings, staff had to create new install images, various testing and compatibility checks etc. A lot more work goes into this than you think.

        This isn't a forced sale and you're not paying for Firefox itself, it's an optional extra.

    2. The First Dave

      Re: Are they blonde?

      "A Dell spokeswoman said the fee covered the time taken to install FireFox, rather than the product itself."

      Case closed,

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Are they blonde?

        Case closed, bullshit!

        You cannot tell me they manually, custom install machines?! We only have about a 900 desktops at my place and we use image builds and automated software install systems to push and remove desktop software. DELL probably shift more desktops that our entire estate in a single day's business so I cannot imagine for a second they need to charge more than a 25p for this "service" given the packages are pre-built and simply pushed on demand!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Are they blonde?

          I thought that initially, but even if they are using a different build or an option on a build, they still have to identify the machine on the production line which is to have the custom software installed, configure it's build separately to the others, package it separately to the others and make sure that it's sent to the appropriate customer. For a bog standard machine, it'll just come off the production line and get sent to whoever is the next customer who wants that make and model.

          I don't think it's unreasonable to charge for custom build options on otherwise mass produced machines.

      2. Uffish

        Re: time taken

        Not in any court of law it wouldn't be.

      3. Michael Habel Silver badge

        Re: Are they blonde?

        "A Dell spokeswoman said the fee covered the time taken to install FireFox, rather than the product itself."

        Case closed,

        People really should learn to read the bloody EULAs

        The Mozilla product must be without cost and its distribution (whether by download or other media) may not be subject to a fee, or tied to subscribing to or purchasing a service, or the collection of personal information.

        Sooo, no case not closed then....

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Are they blonde?

          Sooo, no case not closed then....

          So you're volunteering your time to install Firefox on anyone's computer if they want it?

        2. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Are they blonde?

          >The Mozilla product must be without cost and its distribution (whether by download or other media) may not be subject to a fee, or tied to subscribing to or purchasing a service, or the collection of personal information.

          So taking a pedantic legal position, my broadband is free because the only way I can download Mozilla is by purchasing a service (my broadband), do Mozilla distribute CD's with their product on for free? suspect not so Mozilla are in breech of their own T&Cs.

          I think Mozilla are just trying their luck, however from what I can see whatever the outcome, Mozilla ends up with egg on the face.

        3. The First Dave

          Re: Are they blonde?

          Like I said, Case Closed.

          Even a first year law student would be able to get those conditions dismissed as unreasonable in any reasonable court of law, even if that student was so stupid that he was unable to make the argument that Dell were doing something that was not "distribution".

      4. Trevor Marron

        Re: Are they blonde?

        Unauthorised distribution is against the software licence. Putting it on a hard drive the supplying the hard drive is distribution.

        Are you saying that I could supply PCs with the latest movie blockbusters on and claim that I only charged for putting them on the HD and am not distributing them? No, I don't think so.

        1. Gav

          Re: Are they blonde?

          Wrong. What is against the software licence is charging for distribution.

          Installing it on a computer is exactly what Mozilla want people to do. Deciding that their licence forbids people to install it is exactly what they do not want. What they don't want is people selling Firefox, either on its own or as part of some package. Charging someone to install the application is neither of these.

          Movies and open source/free software are two entirely different things licensed in entirely different ways. Their distribution cannot be compared in any sensible manner.

        2. Lusty Silver badge

          Re: Are they blonde?

          "Unauthorised distribution is against the software licence. Putting it on a hard drive the supplying the hard drive is distribution."

          No, Firefox could be distributed on the hard disk without installation - Dell don't offer this but it would need to be FOC due to the terms.

          Dell are charging to perform the install, whether that be manual, or for maintenance and creation of scripts and images. The distribution to you is still FOC, it just happens that the only way they distribute that software is by first installing it for a fee since they don't offer to just give it to you on the disk.

          Dell are not forcing you to sign up for a service in order to get the software, they are giving you the software and requiring you to pay for an installation. The EULA speaks of services to prevent things like "sign up to our ISP and we'll give you free AV software".

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Are they blond?

      Arguments around the price charged aside, they're allowed to charge a fee to install it.

      Linux is inherently free, but I don't see any engineers volunteering their time to install it. If they are, I've got a 30 server farm I need built and configured...

    4. M7S

      Re: Are they blond?

      Leaving aside the fact that Dell could probably do the image at such a marginal cost that they should be offering it as a free option, if you extended the arguement about distribution cost, what should happen if a customer totally incapable of doing this for themselves gets a custom PC built at a small mom-and-pop shop and asks for this software (perhaps becuase one of use told them it was good idea)?

      Is it reasonable to expect the builder to not charge for their time?

      What if I go into a shop, for sake of example, PC World (No, I would never, but that's not the point) and ask for this to be installed on my year old laptop. The techie is no more likely to read the T&Cs than the rest of us do for most software. Can I then collect it and walk out without paying the bill, because that's what the agreement says? That would seem unreasonable at the very least and possibly criminal.

      Whilst I am sure the motives of the Mozilla people are noble, there does seem to be a little bit of potential unfairness in this in some circumstances.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Are they blond? @m7s

        You miss the point.

        If you go into a shop and ask someone to do a task for a fee it is you making the request. However Dell were offering a service for a fee. There is a very distinct legal difference

        For example:

        If you give me £50 I will fix your computer.

        I will fix your computer for £50.

        One is a condition on a promise and the other is a promise on a condition.

        However this is all beside the point. If a user is such a fucktard that they can't install FF by themselves then they should not be let within 10 miles of a computer.

      2. Joe User
        Flame

        Re: Are they blond?

        what should happen if a customer totally incapable of doing this for themselves

        If someone is "totally incapable" of installing a simple package like Mozilla Firefox, their fingers should be sewn together, and they should be promoted to manager.

        £16.25 to install Firefox is outrageous and Dell knows it....

      3. h4rm0ny
        Linux

        Re: Are they blond?

        "Leaving aside the fact that Dell could probably do the image at such a marginal cost that they should be offering it as a free option"

        Not really. Dell are enterprise and everything they do is geared toward that. If they're adding software to their servers that's not just about the cost of the software, it's about testing, support, supply-chain management, culpability if something goes wrong. This isn't you popping round to your neighbours and downloading it and walking away.

        Libre Software is about Free As In Speech, not Free As In Beer.

        Mozilla are wrong in this, imo. And it's a shame. It's actually good for Firefox that Dell can support a business case of charging £16 per install.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Are they blond?

      "The Mozilla product must be without cost and its distribution (whether by download or other media) may not be subject to a fee, or tied to subscribing to or purchasing a service, or the collection of personal information."

      But Dell aren't charging for distribution, they are charging for installation, configuration and support of the installation. If Mozilla isn't careful, then Dell will just stop offering this service thereby ensuring that the only browsers available are IE via the OS and chrome via Google nagging...

      1. Tom 38 Silver badge

        Re: Are they blond?

        But Dell aren't charging for distribution, they are charging for installation, configuration and support of the installation. If Mozilla isn't careful, then Dell will just stop offering this service thereby ensuring that the only browsers available are IE via the OS and chrome via Google nagging...

        That is just weasel words, they are charging you to place firefox on some media and deliver it to you. That is basically the definition of distribution.

        The cost paid is above what you would pay if you did not have firefox distributed to you.

        Plus, no-one will ever choose to pay an extra £16 for Firefox. If they know they want it, they will know to install it themselves, if they don't know they want it, they will forgo paying for things they don't want.

        This is basically a rehash of the Dell/MS tax on PCs with no OS, I wonder how much they are being bunged now drive IE usage. Of course, now Dell are privately owned, we need never know.

      2. Anonymous Dutch Coward

        Charging for installation etc...

        Installating something /is/ distributing it... Nice try though...

        1. h4rm0ny
          Linux

          Re: Charging for installation etc...

          "Installating something /is/ distributing it... Nice try though..."

          No more than cake is sugar. Yes, you usually find sugar in cakes, but that doesn't mean a cake is only sugar. Simple proof: you turn up on my doorstep and hand me a CD with Firefox on it. You have now distributed Firefox. You do the former, spend time installing it for me and are on-call to answer questions about it any time I choose to ring you up. Are the two actions the same? No. Therefore the latter scenario is not identical to merely distributing it.

          I'm still not really clear on why distributing it has to be for free anyway. Free as in speech, not free as in beer. As the great Stallman said.

    6. Gav

      Are they a business?

      Installation <> Distribution.

      If I was charging you to download Firefox from my website, then that would be distribution.

      Going through the process of installing it on your computer is not distribution.

      Whether the cost they charge for their installation is excessive or not is a matter for the customer to decide. If they don't feel they are getting work worth that, then they are free to go elsewhere. Certainly I wouldn't pay them a penny for doing this. But maybe some would.

      1. Anonymous Dutch Coward

        @Gav: Installing is not distribution but downloading is?

        "Going through the process of installing it on your computer is not distribution."

        Explain to me how:

        1. Dell has a disk with an OS on it

        2. Dell now has a disk with Firefox on it.

        How can the difference between 1 and 2 /not/ be distributing Firefox?

        1. Seanie Ryan

          Re: @Gav: Installing is not distribution but downloading is?

          simple solution for Dell. Change the option on the order process to be :

          "Install an alternative web-browser :- + £16.25 "

          Solved it there in 30 secs.

    7. No, I will not fix your computer

      Re: Are they blond?

      I suspect that Mozilla take exception on this bit;

      The Mozilla product must be without cost and its distribution (whether by download or other media) may not be subject to a fee, or tied to subscribing to or purchasing a service, or the collection of personal information.

      I guess they don't like the obtaining of Firefox tied to the installation service?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Are they blond?

        "The Mozilla product must be without cost and its distribution (whether by download or other media) may not be subject to a fee, or tied to subscribing to or **purchasing a service**, or the collection of personal information."

        For starters, I doubt that's enforceable. If an IT repair guy is asked to install Firefox, do they have to do it for free because of Mozilla's diktat? Or maybe Mozilla just expects everyone to work for free. Maybe that's how things work on planet Moon-unit where Mozilla lives, but it doesn't work that way on planet Earth.

        Or maybe Mozilla doesn't think that non-techies should use Firefox? I guess they would rather see people stick with IE. Yes, that must be it.

        1. Twist Rolarian

          Re: Are they blond?

          There's no chance in any of the Nine Hells that I will ever install anything for free. Trade perhaps, but never without getting something in return.

    8. Benchops

      Re: Are they blond?

      I asked my solicitor about this and he said the rates were completely unreasonable (+£10.30). For some reason he was also interested to know if Dell were hiring.

    9. DanDanDan

      Re: Are they blond?

      I think Mozilla are perfectly within their rights to make any claims to the distribution of their own trademarked software.

      There are 10 types of computing consumer: those who know how to install firefox and those who don't. Now, those who don't will see "alternative and costly browser". Or they can stick with the default (free). If anyone in future mentions Firefox to them, then that type of consumer will think "Oh no, I don't want to pay, I'm happy with IE".

      I think this "service" would be damaging to the Mozilla trademark and that's why I think they're entitled to enforce such distribution restrictions.

      If Dell want to strip all trademarks and compile their own version of the Mozilla browser (a la CentOS), then charge to install that, then that's fair game. They will only damage their own reputation.

      1. h4rm0ny

        Re: Are they blond?

        >>"I think this "service" would be damaging to the Mozilla trademark and that's why I think they're entitled to enforce such distribution restrictions."

        I disagree. I can't think of many better messages to send to the business community than organizations being willing to pay £16 per copy for an alternate browser. I think you're dead wrong that people are going to be confused and not look at Firefox because they think from Dell that it must always cost this much. Showing people buying it will send a clear message to many managers who lack the familiarity with Firefox to make tech-based decisions.

        Trust me on this - I've been around a long time. If I, as random tech-girl say to one of the senior management this: "hey, I know we're all using IE, but lets install this free alternative I downloaded off the Internet", the answer is going to come back: "No!" Okay, I might be able to just about pull it off because I'm quite senior myself these days, but generally it ain't going to happen.

        Now try an alternative approach: "I want the Firefox package that Dell include for our new PCs. Dell now support it as software and it's really good". Now you're in with a chance.

        Mozilla are wrong to fight this. They should welcome it. I'm both a business person AND a programmer. Putting a price on Firefox (without removing the free version) is a win in business terms. Free as in Speech, not Free as in Beer. Stallman gets a lot of hate for some reason (never understood why), but he's a very, very smart person.

        1. DanDanDan

          Re: Are they blond?

          I'm not a decision-maker at Mozilla. My main argument is that they're free to do what they want. IF someone was distributing MY software and making a tidy profit off it (I guarantee this won't be a break-even venture by Dell), then I'd want a cut of it.

          IF they'd asked me, agreed to share a reasonable cut of the profits, yada yada, etc. then I'd be ok with it. As it is, Mozilla had NO IDEA that this was going on. I think it's cheeky of Dell to say the least. Whether or not it's "Good promo" for Mozilla, it should be done with their consent; as stipulated in their T&C's!

          1. h4rm0ny

            Re: Are they blond?

            "I'm not a decision-maker at Mozilla. My main argument is that they're free to do what they want. IF someone was distributing MY software and making a tidy profit off it (I guarantee this won't be a break-even venture by Dell), then I'd want a cut of it."

            Well that's not really in the spirit of Open Source. After all, all that code is donated by people under the GPL for the purpose of sharing.

    10. zb

      Not my lawyer

      If only I could get him to charge me only £200 per hour. I pay that for him to say good morning.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mozillidiots

    Free as in freedom, not at is cost. There nothing, NOTHING, wrong with charging for free software. Zero, zip nada, not a thing. You can even charge for GPL software, there is no problem.

    Dell have costs to cover when installing non-standard software. You can argue the toss about whether or not the price is fair, but you CANNOT argue against their right to charge. Mozilla can say what they like, they don't have a leg to stand on.

    1. AMBxx Silver badge

      Re: Mozillidiots

      Dell charge to take rubbish software off. Don't see why they can't charge to put decent software on.

      1. Sandpit
        Joke

        Re: Mozillidiots

        "Dell charge to take rubbish software off. Don't see why they can't charge to put decent software on."

        But I thought they were putting Firefox on instead?

        1. AMBxx Silver badge

          Re: Mozillidiots

          Must admit, FireFox is hanging by a thread here. May be going IE11

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mozillidiots

      When calling people idiots, please remember to check you are not being an idiot yourself.

      Their Firefox trademark is not free and they can choose to do what they want with it, charges or distribution.

      They even state Dell can distribute and charge for a version of their browser without the Firefox trademark.

      1. El Andy

        Re: Mozillidiots

        @AC: "Their Firefox trademark is not free and they can choose to do what they want with it, charges or distribution."

        Irrelevant. Trademark protection doesn't work like that, you can't just add arbitrary rules and assume they're legal requirements. In exactly the same way Coca-Cola can't insist that shopkeepers selling their product have to paint the walls blue.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Mozillidiots

          > In exactly the same way Coca-Cola can't insist that shopkeepers selling their product have to paint the walls blue.

          Why not? Other than requiring something that is outrageously unreasonable or illegal, a supplier can make whatever demands they wish for the use of their trademark.

          You state the above as though it were extremely outrageous, but consider the conditions that Apple might dictate regarding the environment in which their equipment is displayed, the marketing materials, colour scheming etc.

          Trademarks are in essence all about branding and reputation and Mozilla have just as much right to dictate the way on which their trademarks are used by others.

        2. Steve 129

          Re: Mozillidiots

          Wrong. Coke COULD if they wanted. They could very easily say "If you want to use the Coca Cola trademarked logo to sell Coke, then you must etc..." but they choose not to.

          Levi did EXACTLY this to Tesco !!!

          Mozilla can put WHATEVER restrictions on the use of their trademark that they want... ANYTHING.

          Everyone seems to be missing the facts that a) putting it on a HDD and distributing to customers is... believe it or not... 'distribution' and b) Mozilla can put whatever restrictions on their software/trademark that they want... ANYTHING.

          1. h4rm0ny

            Re: Mozillidiots

            >>"Mozilla can put WHATEVER restrictions on the use of their trademark that they want... ANYTHING."

            I'm pretty sure that's not true. There are laws of the land, restrictions on fair contracts... If I were doing business in America and let all my distributors use my trademark except for those that sold to black/jewish/atheist/gay/whatever people, I'm pretty sure that would fall foul of the law. Basically, if you're going to be discriminatory you need to be able to do so on reasonable grounds. Is it reasonable grounds to say that Dell cannot charge for installation, testing, version management, supply-chain impact, etc. That's for the courts to decide, but I don't think you're right to say Mozilla can impose "ANYTHING" as a condition of their trademark use.

          2. DanDanDan

            Re: Mozillidiots

            Wrong. Coca-Cola(TM) DO enforce WHATEVER restrictions they want on the distributors of their drinks. Such as "You MUST NOT display pepsi-licensed drink products in the same area as Coke products, you must not use our vending machines, with our logo on, to sell Non-Coke products, etc".

            If you charge a fee for installing Mozilla Firefox (TM) on someone's computer, then you're in violation of the terms of use of their software. If you don't want to install it for free, then you have the option of not installing it at all. It's tough luck that you can't profit from their (trademarked) branding.

            1. Oninoshiko

              Re: Mozillidiots

              Yes, but they don't do that with trademark limitations, they use financial incentives (we won't sell to you wholesale if you don't do this). Trademarks can ALWAYS be used for nominative purposes. If I make a vending machine that has Coke, 7up, and Mt Dew in it, I can use the logos from ALL of them on the buttons, and none of them can do anything about it because it is for nominative purposes. Coke can refuse to sell to me wholesale, but that's an entirely different matter.

    3. CaptainHook

      Re: Mozillidiots

      There nothing, NOTHING, wrong with charging for free software. Zero, zip nada, not a thing. You can even charge for GPL software, there is no problem.

      *****

      This is a Trademark / Contract issue. If there weren't any restrictions associated with the use of the Trademark then you would be correct. As it is, you're an idiot.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Mozillidiots

        @CatptainHook - "This is a Trademark / Contract issue. If there weren't any restrictions associated with the use of the Trademark then you would be correct. As it is, you're an idiot."

        Just watch - Dell will start installing IceWeasel instead.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Mozillidiots

        > This is a Trademark / Contract issue. If there weren't any restrictions associated with the use of the Trademark then you would be correct.

        Dell are not distributing Firefox (you can prove me wrong by giving me a link to where Dell are offering it for download). They are providing an installation service. If you went into ANY computer shop on the planet, they would charge you for their time with installing Firefox. Dell are quite within their rights to charge.

        Despite what freetards think, the global economy is not powered by fairy dust.

        1. Anonymous Dutch Coward

          Re: Mozillidiots

          "Dell are not distributing Firefox (you can prove me wrong by giving me a link to where Dell are offering it for download)."

          Who says all distribution has to be done via a download? There's CDs, DVDs, floppy disks, tapes, even punch cards, paper or T-shirts with source code (re the PGP export thingy years back)

        2. Roo

          Re: Mozillidiots

          "Dell are quite within their rights to charge."

          Quite correct, Dell are within 'their rights' to breach license agreements, but choosing to pirate software doesn't actually indemnify you from people asserting their IP rights or endear you to your customers.

          "Despite what freetards think, the global economy is not powered by fairy dust."

          Make sure let Dell know your feelings, after all they are the ones charging money to pirate other people's work.

          1. Roo
            Windows

            Re: Mozillidiots

            Dammit the down votes from the IP Stasi have overloaded my double-standards-detector...

            Don't worry IP zealots, firstly it's very easy (and cheap) for Dell to comply with the intent of that license, and secondly I reckon that Mozilla will be relatively easy to appease compare to say, Apple, Microsoft, Oracle etc...

            I would love to see Larry's face if he were to catch Dell punting Oracle software for $16 a shot without giving him a cut. ;)

      3. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Mozillidiots @CaptainHook

        >This is a Trademark / Contract issue

        The problem with your argument is that Dell aren't using the Mozilla trademark!

        1. Steve 129

          Re: Mozillidiots @CaptainHook

          Isn't "Firefox" a Mozilla trademark?

      4. LaeMing Silver badge

        Re: Mozillidiots

        "This is a Trademark / Contract issue. If there weren't any restrictions associated with the use of the Trademark then you would be correct. As it is, you're an idiot."

        Which is why, incidentally, Debian users such as myself are webbing on 'IceWeasel', a TM-stripped version of FireFox as Mozilla's trademark policies disagree with Debian's definitions of Free-Software.

  3. Richard Boyce

    I doubt they're installing Firefox once per order. If Dell was sensible, Dell will have installed it once, and saved the resulting image for later automatic installation when the customer selects the option. I doubt that the customer gets the latest version and I wouldn't be surprised if it comes with quite a few toolbars installed, etc.

    However, if everyone at Dell were sensible, this dispute probably wouldn't have arisen.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "If Dell was sensible, Dell will have installed it once, and saved the resulting image for later automatic installation when the customer selects the option."

      Dell are sensible, just like the rest of use following this business model. You work out the cost to you, add on the profit you want to make and get the end price for doing the job once. You then charge this same amount whilst lowering your own cost however you can.

      It happens in development all the time, Customer A) asks to have a weather module on their website, you charge £500 to do it. Customer B) comes along and asks for the same thing, you don't say "oh we've already got that so no charge" do you? you say "£500 please" and then stick the existing code on their site as well.

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        "Dell are sensible, just like the rest of use following this business model. You work out the cost to you, add on the profit you want to make and get the end price for doing the job once. You then charge this same amount whilst lowering your own cost however you can."

        Which is expressly what they are not allowed to do. They cannot charge an installation fee. They might be able to get away with charging for actual time spent doing it, but not make a profit out of it, according to the T&Cs.

    2. richardcox13

      They certainly do use images.

      But the images are always the complete install (a "diff" image would work, but only for the same base).

      However there are a lot if images to manage and maintain: different OS editions/versions, different Office editions/versions, ...

      This soon becomes a rather large number each patch Tuesday.

  4. Fab De Marco

    Browser Choice

    Didn't Microsoft get wrapped on the knuckles over installing IE as a default and henceforth we had the "Browser Choice" shortcut on freshly installed desktops.

    So there should be no browser configured by default and the fee charged if the end user wants one installed on their behalf (because next, next, next is such a hardship)

    By working this way it makes it clear that they are charging for a Software installation service. The user can tick this choose their "browser du jour" and hey presto - time/labour charge.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Browser Choice

      > there should be no browser configured by default

      So MS should re-write Windows just to keep Mozilla happy? Perhaps Mozilla should just wind their neck in and release their own desktop OS (and spend a few decades making it the most stable, compatible and easy to use OS on the planet) if they are getting their panties in such a bunch over this.

      1. Fab De Marco

        Re: Browser Choice

        Well.... This is awkward....

        MS did 'rewrite' windows to keep Mozilla and makers of other browsers happy. I wasn't suggesting what MS should do. I was merely retelling what they did do to comply with European Law.

        http://windows.microsoft.com/en-gb/windows/what-is-the-browser-choice-update

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Browser Choice

          > MS did 'rewrite' windows to keep Mozilla and makers of other browsers happy.

          Not quite - it's not possible to remove IE, so it remains the "default browser" for many, many operations; even if the user chooses a different browser for day-to-day use.

  5. Robin Bradshaw

    Extracting urine

    FFS next they will be charging to remove the NSA spyware from their bios :)

  6. Anonymous Bullard
    Joke

    Microsoft were right

    So open-source does cost more, after all!

  7. ed wood

    Dell already install Firefox on Ubuntu

    Why not go the whole hog and ask for an Ubuntu pre-load, Dell already install FireFox for free on their Ubuntu load set.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dell already install Firefox on Ubuntu

      Dell do sell Ubuntu. It was, and continues to be, an abysmal failure.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Dell already install Firefox on Ubuntu

        Well it is Linux; what did you expect?

        1. DanDanDan

          Re: Dell already install Firefox on Ubuntu

          "Well it is Linux; what did you expect?"

          The reason it was a complete failure is that it costs MORE to take Linux than it does to take Microsoft.

          If you want Linux, chances are you don't want to pay £20-50 for someone else to install it, given you're perfectly capable of installation yourself. Add into the mix that you now have a spare MS Windows license to sell and Dell's Linux failure becomes clear.

  8. Simon B

    On computers first boot up: DO YOU WISH TO USE FIREFOX YES/NO. Simple startup question to run on first bootup. WTF do you need a PERSON to install it for you!

    As for a different image ... windows itself asks what country you are in, what keyboard,etc, microsfot don't have hundreds of images for each country so why would Dell need a new image when a simple question 'Install Yes/No' would suffice! At worst you hae ONE image with the options for the engineer to choose. Hmmm, how much should one charge for pressing ONE button to choose Firefox as apposed to just IE ....

    Sounds like a nice money making excercise to me :/

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Simon B

      "Sounds like a nice money making excercise to me :/"

      Yup, that's the idea of business. I sincerely doubt that those complaining about a big company making as much as they can for something work for minimum margins themselves.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Sounds like a nice money making excercise to me :/

      Bastard companies wanting to actually make money.

  9. Heisenberg

    Installed by default...

    "Why don't they just include Firefox in their standard build?" I hear you cry. They could easily do that and this issue would simply go away. I doubt very much that would please Dell's puppet masters at Microsoft though. Far better to engineer some way to discourage people from ever requesting it.

    Idiot's? No, I doubt it.

    Hard-nosed, conniving, scheming b@stards? Hmm, more likely I think.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Installed by default...

      > Dell's puppet masters at Microsoft though.

      Is your tin-foil hat a bit tight?

      1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

        Re: Installed by default...

        "Puppet masters" might be short for "supply agreements" or whatever contracts or implied services might be at issue between Dell and MS. It's not a tin foil hat to know deals get made.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Installed by default...

      All I hear about standard builds on mass-produced PCs is that they have too much pre-installed software on them, of little interest to the end user. Are you arguing that they should put more software on by default? Why not install all browsers, just in case?

  10. Simon B

    Just realised something ... Mircosoft was ORDERED to ASK the user what browser they wanted to use and provide a list. This was a legal requirement. So for me microsoft ask me what browser i want to use when i first turn on my new computer. had a bought a DELL computer then they decided not to let microsoft ask the question for free, and instead CHARGE you for doing it!!! What next Dell? asking if you want to install at a different resolution and charging for it? charging for what time zone i want to use in windows??

    1. Andy 115

      You jest, but…

      Have you seen the list of preference options on the dell business site that you can pay to have pre-configured?

      Tick them all and you could probably easily double (or treble) the base cost of the machine!

  11. Randy Hudson

    I find this hard to believe

    People still choose to use firefox?

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: I find this hard to believe

      Why? would you want us all to use IE?

      Or Chrome where Google gets to know what we are doing

      So what is your suggested browser then?

      I am sure that a good few of us would like to benefit from your extreme wisdom in the matter...

    2. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: I find this hard to believe

      @ Randy Hudson

      Yes. And by choice

      1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: I find this hard to believe

        You choose to use firefox by choice?

        There's an endorsement! :-)

  12. Rob Crawford

    Fucking <sigh>

    Firefox is a non standard option, therefore Dell will charge for the install.

    As for installing it on all Dell machines, have you see the whinging that people do when they have something installed that they don't want, they start filing class actions on the manufacture for wasting their storage space.

    I point you towards Samsung phone users complaining about the ANT drivers being installed (they're threatening court action)

    Anyway if somebody needs Dell to install Firefox for them then they probably shouldn't be allowed to own a PC in the first place.

    Please don't whinge about large rollouts as if you haven't got a suitable infrastructure to rollout required software to users then you probably shouldn't be involved with those machines in the first place.

  13. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Great move, Mozilla

    You're totally right to call Dell out on charging for installing your browser.

    I should wish that you win this tussle, and Dell will be obliged to no longer install your browser. I'm sure that will help your market share immensely.

    What is that you said ? That is not what you wanted ? Well that is what you're going to get if you push this a lot further; Dell is going to stop installing Firefox.

    Again, congratulations. That is a well-thought move.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Great move, Mozilla

      "Dell is going to stop installing Firefox."

      If they're smart, Dell will also advise against installing Firefox (suggesting Chrome instead), pointing out that they'd love to support it but Mozilla won't let them.

  14. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Installation includes support

    Bear in mind also that Dell will have to support PCs that have chosen this setup option and Mozilla issue automatic updates every other week. (I assume Dell are installing Firefox with such updates enabled.) A pointy-haired boss might reckon that was a risk that needed insuring against by taking a fat premium at point-of-sale.

    Even Richard Stallman is happy for people to charge for the support associated with free software, and Red Hat's business model is just that. I think Mozilla will find they get nowhere.

    1. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

      Re: Installation includes support

      "Bear in mind also that Dell will have to support PCs that have chosen this setup option and Mozilla issue automatic updates every other week."

      That is a very good point.

      Dealing with Firefox related support calls every time a new version decides that existing plugins aren't compatible could cost Dell real money.

      Yet... If Dell could get Firefox's spell checker to stop reverting from UK to US English every time I turn my back I might be happy to part with 16 quid or so.

      1. TraceyC

        Re: Installation includes support

        I'll trade you. For me (in the US), the Firefox spellchecker reverts from the US to the UK dictionary on a regular basis.

        Although I don't agree with charging a fee for Firefox because support. Unless people are OK with them charging an extra fee for support for every other piece of software you had preinstalled or installed later, because they all add support complexity.

  15. DrXym Silver badge

    Does this mean I can get a discount?

    Dell installs all kinds of crapware on their PCs. Why is there no checkbox during checkout where I can get a discount by saving Dell the trouble of installing this shit on my new PC? Ah but someone might say, it's because Dell is paid to put it on there, in which case, how much is Symantec and others paying and how does it compare to £16 for Firefox.

    Second, call me skeptical but I would think that Dell of all companies has the capability to rapidly install software onto machines and if it involves any time at all, we're talking seconds. More likely they already maintain a multitude of software images with various permutations and some added ones with Firefox on them is no big deal.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Boot on LAN

    Mozilla, Linux, Windows & etc can be installed remotely and is very easy to automate the installation.

    With a little bit of engineering and a standard rack configured for any sort of PC the operator time should cost less than 2min, not including transport time.

    For example:

    - Receive unit facing away from operator

    - 1 sec Plug in LAN

    - 1 sec Plug in VDU

    - 1 sec Plug in keyboard

    - 1 sec Plug in power

    - 30 sec, adjust the BIOs settings, including wait time & save/exit

    - 30 sec, Select image on listed on route card (Optional)

    - Repeat on next unit until rack is full.

    Upon completion (Possibly after 24hr test & soak)

    - 2 sec, Unplug unit

    - 1 sec, Apply "test passed" sticker

    - Pass to Packing/next stage

    If or your firm are having trouble with this I'll happily set it up for you.

    My going rate is £400/hr, a bargain compared to Dell.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Boot on LAN

      Ok, first off, if you think those are realistic times, I never want to work in a factory you designed...

      Second - you missed the part where they have to keep individual machines with custom bulids separated from the bog standard ones, how they are tracked through the factory and sent to the correct customer. You also missed the maintenance of the builds.

  17. Yamas
    IT Angle

    The problem is...

    Dell is not the one to blame, we all know how ethical are all these IT companies. the problem is that there is way to many technophobic people out there, they can't do anything computer-related by themselves, with more money then common sense they are a real manna for after sales departments and buy iThings to have a sense of security and therefore drive the price of everything up!

  18. Colin Ritchie
    Windows

    People still buy Dell?

    Desperate times at Dell towers when they have to try and wring another sixteen bucks out of idiots too dumb to install their own browser of choice. Hope they have a better plan in the pipeline...

  19. Lamont Cranston

    £16?

    I normally do that sort of work for a cup of tea, maybe a biscuit. I think I see why I'm still not worth £millions.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: £16? @Lamont Christian

      "I normally do that sort of work for a cup of tea, maybe a biscuit."

      It's barter rather than cash, but it's still a fee from what I can gather from my dictionary. And a biscuit if you can get away with it? Why are people accusing *Dell* of gouging?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's an ill wind

    "Mozilla's legal department has now officially confirmed that it is probing Dell. It is not yet known whether this will lead to Mozilla filing any sort of legal suit"

    Whatever the outcome I bet somewhere along the line, a lawyer or two will make a down payment on a new sports car.

  21. Watashi

    Semantics

    So, this must be how Dell prep their PCs:

    1) Get PC with no OS from Chinese manufacturer.

    2) Open up the box, plug it in etc.

    3) Configure BIOS and add service tag (some charges may apply).

    4) Eject the DVD tray and put in Windows OEM disk.

    5) Install Windows.

    6) Update Windows.

    7) Install each piece of Dell bloatware manually.

    8) Install PowerDVD, Office Home trial, AV (free for a year or whatever) etc manually.

    9) Install Firefox manually.

    10) Run sysprep so that you get the out-of-box experience when the buyer switches it on.

    Or...

    1) to 3) as before:

    4) Deploy the OS image containing the requested software onto the PC.

    Now, if Firefox is on the OS image there is no difference between the way the purchaser gets Firefox and the way they get IE. Yet no-one would say that Dell installs IE on every Windows computer you buy from them, and imagine the mockery if Dell tried to charge users for IE installation. And as a choice needs to be made whether or not the Firefox image is used, the effective cost for each additional PC which has Firefox installed is about zero.

    Now it may be that Dell are technically correct in a legal sense, but Mozilla's terms and conditions are there to prevent consumers being ripped off and this is exactly what they're trying to do. Dell are ripping customers off, plain and simple.

  22. Oninoshiko

    Better investigate me too

    I charge my employer for my time when I install FF too.

  23. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

    It's the old power cable trick

    This one goes back to the recession in the early 90s.

    PC margins were apparently so tight that unless they sold you a mains cable for 20 quid they didn't make any profit.

    Yes, that was the same cable you could buy in your local electrical outlet for about 2-3 quid.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dell doesn't need a "trademark license"

    Trademark policies can't override the actual law, and Dell is making nominative use* of the Firefox trademark. Dell doesn't need a trademark license to use the Firefox trademark, because the product it's selling /is/ Firefox.

    Dell no more needs a trademark license from Mozilla to sell Firefox and call it Firefox than your corner shop needs a trademark license from Coca-Cola to sell Coca-Cola and call it Coca-Cola.

    Mozilla's "trademark policy" can't stop Dell distributing Firefox, because Firefox is, in fact, exactly what Dell are distributing. Trademarks are not like copyrights; using them to refer to the actual trademarked product does not infringe them**.

    * http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nominative_use

    ** https://www.chillingeffects.org/trademark/faq#QID56

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Senseless Carnage

    What really ticks me off here is that Mozilla, by taking such a ridiculous position, is forcing so many of us to have to side with (the undeniably always without exception evil) Dell in this dispute. Frivolous claims like this actually undermine the force of open source licenses because they lead people, especially the (mostly) hopelessly clueless leaders of most firms, to discount their force in the future. That means establishing a culture of compliance will require an expensive campaign of legal action with its attendant metaphorical carnage. For the love of Pete, have the interns taken over even the legal department at Mozilla Foundation? This was a stupid, senseless move that has all the hallmarks of an outburst by some self-important snotnosed kid who somehow got hold of the company megaphone. In addition to sewing together the fingers of anyone who can't install Firefox themselves as Joe User suggests, the moron who approved the original complain to Dell should have his/her fingers sewed to their toes so that they're forced to look where they're walking from now on.

  26. jellypappa

    Mozillidiots

    on a serious note, has anyone noticed the sudden absence of nipples on tv,

  27. king of foo

    bubblewrap

    I would gladly pay £20 for Firefox/ccleaner/avast etc to be preinstalled on a new PC... IF IT ALSO CAME WITH ***** WINDOWS FULLY UPDATED... and tick boxes for each and every non vanilla windows crapware install during the initial setup/ordering process...

    ...and a magic tree with that new PC smell...

    ...and lots of bubblewrap....

    I miss bubblewrap

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    but the internet

    But the internet supply company charges me to access the internet, does that mean they are charging me to download Firefox.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If this was a policy from...

    RyanAir I'd say nothing! But this type of ongoing BS from Dell is surely one of the last nails in its own retail coffin... Yes / No?

  30. EJMF

    Gouging

    To me, it's just another example of a big corporation gouging the little guy with another questionable fee.

  31. patrick tyrus

    Why isn't it a part of a standard instalation..... Why do they need to install it?

    if it costs £16 to install firefox, do it on the standard image. There is obviously demand for it. Its not like all the other nagware you get. Mozilla offers to let Dell install it free Include it in the cost of the computer, and make it standard. No extra cost. That extra cost is the gripe. Actually, a ma and pa retailer, would probably install it for no charge. They are tired of the big brother MS. Heck, it would behoove MS to encourage dell to install it more MS is going to be the default browser, and with more FF installations out there, it means they are less under the govt's monopoly eye.

    1. pyrrhic-loss

      Re: Why isn't it a part of a standard instalation..... Why do they need to install it?

      "... do it on the standard image. There is obviously demand for it. Its not like all the other nagware you get" - unless you don't use it (like approx 75% of people according to w3schools), then it's just another piece of bloatware.

  32. can2002

    Am I an idiot???

    Whether or not supplying a PC to their customer with Firefox installed legally counts as distribution (maybe I'm an idiot too, but if the customer receives a PC from Dell on which Firefox has been installed, it sounds like they've 'distributed' it to me), the Mozilla Foundation owns the trademark and can exercise control over it.

    I suspect an additional £16.25 will put most customers off and that's Mozilla's issue. Surely they have little to lose from placing restrictions on Dell (whether via the trademark or the licensing agreement)...

  33. agricola
    Boffin

    What IS it about this industry that attracts slime-balls?

    Let's see, now:

    Larry Ellison, Steve Balmer, Mark Shuttleworth, Michael Dell, Samsung, ...

  34. TraceyC

    Having priced a Dell laptop recently, I didn't recall any other software where you needed to pay for the install (not the software itself), so I checked. While they do charge for licenses, they don't charge any fees for *installing* any other software. In fact, the Adobe software they offer is cheaper to add to a Dell computer than buying it off the shelf (because of OEM licensing). They toss in a 1 year subscription to McAfee for free. They don't charge anything, licensing or installation, for all the crapware they bundle either. Why is Firefox singled out?

    To be fair, I don't even see Firefox available as an option on an a few systems I looked at just now, in the US.

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