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Google accused of sabotaging Firefox, again

By midian182 · 45 replies
Apr 16, 2019
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  1. Jonathan Nightingale, former General Manager and Vice President of the Firefox group at Mozilla, revealed all on Twitter over the weekend. He writes that Google was the company’s biggest partner during his eight years at Mozilla. “Our revenue share deal on search drove 90% of Mozilla’s income,” he tweeted. But Nightingale claims Google used underhand tactics to ensure Chrome stayed ahead of its rival.

    Nightingale says that while Google’s individual workers believed both companies were on the same side, the organization itself didn't see things that way.

    "Google Chrome ads started appearing next to Firefox search terms. Gmail & [Google] Docs started to experience selective performance issues and bugs on Firefox. Demo sites would falsely block Firefox as 'incompatible'," he said.

    "All of this is stuff you're allowed to do to compete, of course. But we were still a search partner, so we'd say 'hey what gives?' And every time, they'd say, 'oops. That was accidental. We'll fix it in the next push in 2 weeks.'”

    These so-called accidents happened hundreds of times, and Nightingale doesn’t believe Google is so incompetent as to keep making mistakes. Each time one of these issues arose, Firefox lost users to Chrome.

    This isn’t the first time such accusations have appeared. Last year, Mozilla Program Manager Chris Peterson tweeted that Google had intentionally slowed down the YouTube loading performance of Firefox and Edge. The site had previously loaded faster than Chrome on these browser, but Google “switched to using a JavaScript library for YouTube that they knew wasn’t supported by Firefox,” writes ZDNet.

    According to NetMarketShare, Chrome holds almost 68 percent of the browser market while Firefox has just over 9 percent.

    Permalink to story.

  2. Theinsanegamer

    Theinsanegamer TS Evangelist Posts: 1,529   +1,739

    How much of this is due to Google's malice, and how much due to Firefox's incompetence?

    Reminder, Firefox, despite talking about an open web, is loyal to whomever is willing to give them money. Switching to yahoo search, to the detriment of its own users, installing things like pocket (which stubbornly refuses to die and can only be removed in the about:config menu, yet comes back after updates) and the Mr. Robot promo, and firefox's telemetry-to-track-opt-out-telemetry add ons.

    To top it all off Firefox struggles in performance even on sites that hate Google. I visit a lot of smaller sites that fully embrace firefox and FOSS, yet said sites still perform worse on firefox then chrome. Firefox, for me at least, still exhibits small amounts of lag and stutter loading large webpages, whereas google chrome loads instantly. Highlighting text in firefox will often render that text invisible on many sites, and issue that no other browser has. Loading videos Firefox still occasionally suffers from the "video stops decoding midway through playback" bug from 10 years ago. Edge, for all its problems, didnt have these issues. Even IE11 didnt have these problems, and that browser is total trash.

    Firefox is too busy getting caught up in virtue signalling about how open it is, while breaking compatibility with add ons users love and continually suffering in browser performance. Firefox focus on mobile, for example, features many optimizations that allowed it to run very well, yet said changes STILL are not part of the regular firefox browser. Firefox on desktop STILL isnt heavily threaded like chrome is. If the firefox devs spent less time complaining about Google and more time actually fixing their browser, and if they used some of their millions from yahoo to actually promote their browser, you know like google does, and actually listening to their userbase, firefox would not be on the ropes like it is now.
    arrowflash, psycros and Knot Schure like this.
  3. Capaill

    Capaill TS Evangelist Posts: 869   +476

    Doesn't matter. I still prefer using Firefox over all other browsers, with the possible exception of Opera. I'm not yet ready to go fully Google.
  4. ET3D

    ET3D TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,647   +306

    Yesterday I checked video acceleration on an old ThinkPad X120e. YouTube on Chrome was a slideshow, but on Edge it was okay. Unfortunately, YouTube kept overlaying the video with a message asking if I wanted to use a better performing browser called Chrome. I kept closing it and it kept popping up.

    Using a deprecated API is either malice of Google incompetence. And as the article states, Google kept admitting to 'bugs' and promising to fix them. So I don't see how this can be interpreted in any way as Firefox incompetence.
    Charles Olson, orondf, nrstha and 9 others like this.
  5. Puiu

    Puiu TS Evangelist Posts: 3,372   +1,823

    Besides Youtube, which is not the first time it was intentionally slowed down on other browsers, I've yet to find a website that performs in any noticeable way slower on Firefox. Most actually run better, but it is not always an apples to apples comparison because other factors.

    It should be mentioned that this particular problem was first brought to the public's attention in 2018.
  6. Knot Schure

    Knot Schure TS Addict Posts: 254   +110

    Have a well-deserved like.

    Breaking add-ons, and that bloody 'Pocket'. I've lost too much time in about:config, but that is they way to stop the tracking etc. I'm not sure you can get quite so much privacy in Chrome.

    Hence I use FF.
    Godel, psycros and Theinsanegamer like this.
  7. Theinsanegamer

    Theinsanegamer TS Evangelist Posts: 1,529   +1,739

    And yet, somehow, IE and Edge do not have these problems, this only affects firefox.

    I dont see how Firefox devs being unable to keep up with the web is Google's problem. Is google acting like a petulant child? Yes. But, somehow, no one else is having the issues firefox is having, and has had, over the years. I can load up a youtube video on IE11 at work and have to run properly, but firefox somehow is still having all these issues. Same with Gmail, and IE11 isnt even supported by Gmail anymore.

    There is a reason Hanlon's Razor exists.
    It is a shame there is no easy to use privacy focused Chrome spinoff. I wouldnt be surprised if one of Firefox's spinoffs eventually usurps firefox itself.
    psycros likes this.
  8. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 2,669   +2,428

    Firefox originally got to #1 in browsers through bundling. When Google came along and started doing the same what was Mozilla's response? To partner with Yahoo, which was already on life support, and to cease promoting Firefox completely. After that they were just grasping at anything to keep them afloat, starting with a Google partnership that almost EVERYONE warned them against. It was as if Mozilla had learned nothing from the Internet Explorer controversies of the recent past. The stupidity become endemic after that: a horrible UI overhaul, continuous bloat, illegally firing their CEO because of his private political beliefs and then embracing the addon framework of the company that had destroyed them. Mozilla's days as a commercial entity are numbered at this point but Firefox will live on in the open source world, although divergent forking is a real danger.
  9. EClyde

    EClyde TS Evangelist Posts: 1,810   +667

    That's racism
    kombu likes this.
  10. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 12,810   +1,514

    Try using the search engine DUCKDUCKGO.COM instead of Google :)(y) (Y)
    Charles Olson likes this.

    IAMTHESTIG TS Evangelist Posts: 1,702   +788

    Certainly is possible, and I wouldn't put it past the giant... though I stopped using Firefox because it was unstable and unreliable nearly every time I tried to use it. It seems to be more reliable now that it is using the Chrome engine but then, why would I use it if I can just use Chromium?
  12. kevbev89

    kevbev89 TS Maniac Posts: 181   +162

    I simply migrated away from Firefox slowly because it was just slower in many areas (e.g. starting up the application). Chrome still has its problem like being a RAM hog, but it only causes major issues if you leave chrome on continuously for a week. I generally shutdown my desktop every night so the problem is nonexistent.
  13. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 3,913   +3,361

    "Just compete better!"

    - Theinsanegamer 2019

    Just as a reminder, none of what you mentioned approaches the topic of the article. You aren't disputing those points with on topic facts, you are bringing up a bunch of random subjective personal experiences. That should be obvious from this sentence alone "Firefox, for me at least, still exhibits small amounts of lag and stutter loading large webpages, whereas google chrome loads instantly". Obviously "instantly" isn't an accurate measure of real performance (unless it somehow breaks the laws of physics and loads the page in 0.0 seconds). Not to mention you have no mention of which sites you tested and the methodology used to test them, the build date of firefox, ect.

    "Firefox on desktop STILL isn't heavily threaded like chrome is"

    This statement is patently false as Firefox Quantum and onwords has excellent multi-thread support.


    Just as an example, it spreads the load pretty well across my 8 core Ryzen.

    Perhaps we should discuss the topic of the article instead of blaming and deflecting? I just love it when the first thing a person does is not address the shady behavior being perpetrated but instead start blaming the potential victim. How about we ascertain the situation before you crucify them for something completely unrelated. Firefox having bad performance for you does not suddenly give Google a permit to do whatever it wants including monopolistic tactics.
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2019
  14. AidenMoonBow

    AidenMoonBow TS Rookie

    In my experience Firefox Is A Very Dependable web browser. example; my mother uses chrome on her laptop. after my old laptop wore out due to age I had to use hers. I immediately got the AD Block Plus extension on it as it I had it for my Firefox yet I did notice that on chrome the plug in isn't stable as ads were still able to get through where as on Firefox they weren't. Now that I have my own computer again I am back to Firefox and happy again. And as we all know edge is just IE with a facelift. so people quit hating on Firefox. they are just trying to help us have a stress free web browsing experience for the internet. so instead of focusing your energy on such a small minute detail as web browsers. focus on bigger internet issues
    Charles Olson likes this.
  15. Puiu

    Puiu TS Evangelist Posts: 3,372   +1,823

    Actually Edge has that problem too since they updated the API to the newer version as they should. It isn't Firefox devs that are unable to keep up, it's Google intentionally using deprecated APIs that should have been updated a long time ago. This is why other browsers that dropped support for that specific API have problems now.
    And we are wondering why Chrome uses more resources than the rest.

    On that note your argument kinda breaks down. This isn't a new 2019 "issue", it's much older. People have been bashing Google in the summer of 2018 for this exact problem too.

    And it isn't the only thing they did that affected competing browser in youtube's code base. I remember them adding hidden empty divs to the player that broke the hardware acceleration of Firefox (and Opera? I can't remember) and right after that update, within days, they started advertising that Chrome was faster when using youtube, even though before that it wasn't. They also refused to fix the problem for a very long time.
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2019
  16. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,861   +2,196

    (y) (Y)Well said!

    I've been using Waterfox and I love it. With uBlock origin, very few ads get through including all the :poop: ads on U-Tub.

    That pocket thing? I've just taken it off my tool bar.

    And private browsing in Chrome - that's an oxymoron if ever I heard one.

    I don't trust gagme as far as I can throw them. As I see it, this article validates my gagme concerns.
    Charles Olson and Godel like this.
  17. GamerNerves

    GamerNerves TS Rookie Posts: 27   +13

    Go Firefox!
    Charles Olson and Deevo324 like this.
  18. ShadowDeath

    ShadowDeath TS Booster Posts: 114   +44

    I haven't had Firefox "struggle" to do anything in a while. I used to have an issue with it launching slow, loading pages slow, etc. That turned out to be the dumpster fire that Lastpass calls an extension. I removed that and it strongly rivals chrome in every way. In my case it even launches faster than chrome. So I don't see this performance issue you have. :/
    Charles Olson and EClyde like this.
  19. EClyde

    EClyde TS Evangelist Posts: 1,810   +667

    I have it's not to good
  20. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 12,810   +1,514

    how so? What's not right to you?
    Charles Olson likes this.
  21. Deevo324

    Deevo324 TS Rookie Posts: 18   +10

    ? Firefox doesn't use the Chrome engine. It was using Gecko and now uses Quantum.
    Charles Olson likes this.
  22. Capaill

    Capaill TS Evangelist Posts: 869   +476

    Maybe try using startpage.com which is a similar concept in secure browsing and was recommended to me by a user on these forums. It's a little slow to open but otherwise works well and I like the Black theme.
    Charles Olson likes this.
  23. comnut

    comnut TS Rookie

    there is an alternative to FF and goggle.. some guys have taken the open source of mozilla, and made a very similar browser... it depends how attached you are to 'whatever fox' you want...


    many are just FF with logos ripped out... PM is a redesigned, fully supported one...
    Charles Olson likes this.

    IAMTHESTIG TS Evangelist Posts: 1,702   +788

    I thought FF switched to the Chrome engine a couple of years ago... Wonder why I thought that? Maybe something to do with the iOS version using WebKit? Who knows, I stand corrected though.

    Regardless, I find FF is more stable now though since they switched things up. Though, I still don't use it as I'm committed to Google's ecosystem. Bleh....
  25. Adorerai

    Adorerai TS Enthusiast Posts: 52   +23

    That only makes sense if you buy into the idea that google is being malicious. Some people don’t see that as being the case nor Firefox being a potential victim. They’ve also included examples to support their claim.

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