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Dell starts charging for Firefox installation

Dell starts charging for Firefox installation

Dell has begun adding open-source and free software to its customisation service, charging users £16.25 to pre-install Firefox in a move which may be in breach of Mozilla's trademark terms.

The newly-private Dell has found an interesting way to boost its bottom line: charging to install freely-available and open-source software packages on its machines, starting with the popular Firefox browser.

Buyers going through Dell's iconic customisation process will be all-too familiar with the ways in which the company, quite rightly, looks to increase the value of your purchase: additional batteries and chargers for laptops, operating system upgrades and anti-virus packages, office suites, printers and even smartphones are typically offered alongside the more expected storage and RAM upgrades. Now, however, the company has found a new wheeze: charging for non-commercial software.

The Register was the first to notice that Dell had introduced a charge for the pre-installation of Mozilla's open-source Firefox browser on selected models of PC in the UK, the US and Canada. For £16.25, a deselected-by-default check box in the 'Additional Software' section of the process offers, buyers can receive their machine with Firefox already loaded and ready to go.

The move has raised eyebrows, particularly at Mozilla which has told The Next Web that it has no agreement with Dell for it to make such a charge - and, indeed, forbids charging for distribution of Firefox unless its name is changed to indicate it is a wholly separate product based on the browser's publicly-available source code.

Dell has denied that it is in breach of Mozilla's trademark terms, telling TNW that 'the customer would not be charged for the Mozilla Firefox software download, rather the fee would cover the time and labour involved for factory personnel to load a different image than is provided on the system’s standard configuration.'

The Mozilla Foundation, the not-for-profit group behind the open source Firefox, Firefox OS and Thunderbird packages, has indicated it will be investigating the matter itself.

22 Comments

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RichCreedy 6th March 2014, 09:30 Quote
could they not argue, they aren't charging for the software, but for the technician to install it?

edit: oops missed the last bit of story
Corky42 6th March 2014, 09:54 Quote
Dell needs to look at how much it pays it's workers or other overheads if it costs them £16.25 for what takes 1min to do.
damien c 6th March 2014, 09:54 Quote
Wow just wow charging for someone to install a free piece of software whilst installing the rest of the bloatware they will install.
Guinevere 6th March 2014, 10:01 Quote
I think Mozilla may have to fight for this one.

1) The Mozilla Public Licence says you can distribute the software in executable form.

2) The EULA says you can't remove the trademarks.

3) The Trademark agreement says you can't charge for installs.

Doesn't seem entirely consistent and possibly not so clear cut as Mozilla would like. But it might be enough for them to force Dell to stop offering it as an option.
Dave Lister 6th March 2014, 10:27 Quote
I totally agree with Corky, I would think a big company like that would just mirror a master hdd onto each customers hdd which takes no extra time to do. If the techs do actually sit there loading up discs and downloading firefox then it still wouldn't cost them that much in time and effort to install firefox !

If this is the new Dell, I will continue telling people to avoid Dell PC's.
erratum1 6th March 2014, 14:18 Quote
Ridiculous.. I used to make a product that sold for £16.50 ish and it was bloody hard graft take out of that cost of materials....if only I could have installed Firefox all day.
B1GBUD 6th March 2014, 14:41 Quote
Next thing Dell will be asking for double that amount if you've selected the RAID option......
murraynt 6th March 2014, 15:02 Quote
Dell must be desperate.
RedFlames 6th March 2014, 15:10 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Lister
I totally agree with Corky, I would think a big company like that would just mirror a master hdd onto each customers hdd which takes no extra time to do. If the techs do actually sit there loading up discs and downloading firefox then it still wouldn't cost them that much in time and effort to install firefox !

Apparently the 16.50 is because it's *so* much effort to swap 1 image [without ff] for another [with ff]


Whilst I typically recommend dell 'tops... when I first noticed the option my first thought was 'are they taking the piss?'
Margo Baggins 6th March 2014, 16:15 Quote
Hilarious
deathtaker27 6th March 2014, 17:00 Quote
I understand that labor costs money however what they should of done is something like:

Choose firefox (cost: 5p, 1p for labor, 4p goes to mozilla)

I think this would be a better way of charging and i can't see mozilla complaining with the donations they will be getting
suragh 6th March 2014, 17:14 Quote
I feel sorry for those who fool for it!
proxess 6th March 2014, 17:42 Quote
I'd rather pay those 16 quid for them to remove their bloatware.
ffjason 6th March 2014, 18:59 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Lister
I totally agree with Corky, I would think a big company like that would just mirror a master hdd onto each customers hdd which takes no extra time to do. If the techs do actually sit there loading up discs and downloading firefox then it still wouldn't cost them that much in time and effort to install firefox !

If this is the new Dell, I will continue telling people to avoid Dell PC's.

Mate (despite your great name) - PC's haven't been imaged like this by large (or small) corporations since the days before Windows XP. There are far more efficient tools available for those who know how!

Not disagreeing with your point just correcting an assumption :)

You're correct it doesn't cost over £16 every time someone wants to install Firefox, but it probably did cost them thousands of £'s for a single employee to get trained correctly in the software and learn to develop the scripts to deploy Firefox as an option into their already customised images.

And no - when you're deploying thousands of images a day - manually installing firefox on every one isn't an option!



I know it sounds stupid but there are costs involved in deploying optional software like this.

Whether £16+ is justifiable or not is another matter entirely!


Quote:
Originally Posted by proxess
I'd rather pay those 16 quid for them to remove their bloatware.

This I totally agree with!!
GiantKiwi 6th March 2014, 20:18 Quote
As I said on facebook, this isn't the first time they've done something like this, remember when they did the ubuntu installs on laptops? Ubuntu ones were 60+ more than the windows install counterparts.
specofdust 6th March 2014, 20:48 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corky42
Dell needs to look at how much it pays it's workers or other overheads if it costs them £16.25 for what takes 1min to do.

The thing is, on those £250 laptops the margin must be next to zero. Think about it, if their profit margin on the laptop alone is £2.50, then that's 1% profit on each laptop. Introduce a service like this and that's 7% on each laptop sold with firefox.

Pricey extras sold to people who don't know better is how much of the IT industry makes its money. Always has been, always will be.
RedFlames 6th March 2014, 21:02 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by specofdust
The thing is, on those £250 laptops the margin must be next to zero. Think about it, if their profit margin on the laptop alone is £2.50, then that's 1% profit on each laptop. Introduce a service like this and that's 7% on each laptop sold with firefox.

Pricey extras sold to people who don't know better is how much of the IT industry makes its money. Always has been, always will be.

IIRC Dell make a loss on most of their consumer wares, the money is made on business gear and 'services' [extended warranties etc.]
SAimNE 6th March 2014, 22:25 Quote
if they are going to do this they should go all the way. make all of their software be a checklist. that way you can opt out of any bloatware you dont want, keep anything you might like/use, and i guarantee there are those who'd drop 20-50 bucks in a heartbeat if it meant not dealing with the cluster f of bloatware that comes with the standard pc.
specofdust 6th March 2014, 23:34 Quote
Given that manufacturers get paid to install bloatware on your system, you're need to pay them extra to get a system without it.
SexyHyde 6th March 2014, 23:41 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by ffjason
PC's haven't been imaged like this by large (or small) corporations since the days before Windows XP. There are far more efficient tools available for those who know how!

While I agree there are better ways and means. The old way is still in use today, I've had words with the IT department where I work and they just refuse to learn new ways and stick doing what they've done for over a decade because that is what they are comfortable with. It doesn't help when their new employees are clueless - I had one gawk in awe at an SSD and ask how it works.
Corky42 7th March 2014, 07:52 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by specofdust
The thing is, on those £250 laptops the margin must be next to zero. Think about it, if their profit margin on the laptop alone is £2.50, then that's 1% profit on each laptop. Introduce a service like this and that's 7% on each laptop sold with firefox.

Pricey extras sold to people who don't know better is how much of the IT industry makes its money. Always has been, always will be.

Ohh yea i understand profit margins must be super tight, and the other point you made about them getting paid by other company's to install bloatware, it just seems £16.25 is a lot of money for what is a relatively simple job.
I'm not saying they should do it for free, but as they claim the £16.25 is purely to cover the time and labour involved for factory personnel to load a different image. It seems to me, time and labour cost them a lot more than it should be costing them.
AlienwareAndy 7th March 2014, 08:31 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by RedFlames
IIRC Dell make a loss on most of their consumer wares, the money is made on business gear and 'services' [extended warranties etc.]

This. They also have their own financing company that charges 29% APR on HP (USA).

TBH this £16 chit is just capitalism. IE - screwing a brotha out of a buck any way you can.
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