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.
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.