back to article Bad luck, n00bs: Mozilla to splurge ADS inside empty Firefox tiles

The Mozilla Corporation has announced that it will soon offer the chance to run advertising in its browser. Ads will appear in what the foundation is calling “Directory Tiles” that appear when users summon a new Tab into existence. Explained as something “designed to improve the first-time-with-Firefox experience”, nine …

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  1. Neoc

    <scratches head>

    "Explained as something “designed to improve the first-time-with-Firefox experience”, nine Directory Tiles will appear in a grid on each new Tab. Today, all but one of the Tiles is blank."

    <looks at a new FF tab>I have nine tiles, all of them contain links to my most-frequented sites. So: all nine tiles are already there, and none of them are blank.

    1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

      Re: <scratches head>

      Hmm so by the looks of it they will replace 8 of those with ads

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: <scratches head>

      So I guess your not a first time user then?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: <scratches head>

        'So I guess your not a first time user then?'

        So I guess you're language is not English, hinnit?

        1. M Gale

          Re: <scratches head>

          So I guess you're language is not English, hinnit?

          Protip: If you replace "you're" with "you are" and it makes no sense, you're probably doing it wrong.

          The irony is delicious though.

    3. big_D Silver badge

      Re: <scratches head>

      Yes, but you haven't just installed Firefox and never visited a site...

      This is on a fresh installation. Before you start visiting sites, the 9 tiles will have "ads" in them i.e. link to sites that sponsors of Mozilla think you should be interested in.

      1. Kane Silver badge

        Re: <scratches head>

        But if it's a fresh installation, how would they know what you should be interested in?

        1. M Gale

          Re: <scratches head>

          how would they know what you should be interested in?

          Mumsnet will advise them? They know all about what you should and should not be allowed to see.

        2. big_D Silver badge

          Re: <scratches head>

          "But if it's a fresh installation, how would they know what you should be interested in?"

          Well, obviously, you'll be interested in the companies with the biggest wallet, giving Mozilla the biggest bribes...

    4. Irongut Silver badge

      Re: <scratches head>

      Some people really need to learn to read.

    5. Mike Flugennock

      Re: <scratches head>

      I'm showing 9 blank tiles, but then I've got AdBlock Plus and NoScript enabled.

      1. cortland

        Re: <scratches head>

        Do you think they'll be allowed to block these ads?

  2. lupine
    Stop

    shirley

    they'll not appear if adblock is installed...?

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: shirley

      These aren't ad ads from ad providers, they are pre-filled in "most visited" sites tiles on the new tab view. AdBlock won't be installed by that stage.

    2. mosw

      Re: shirley

      AdBlock should be one of those tiles.

  3. mythicalduck

    Tracking?

    "while still leading to content we think users will enjoy"

    So does this mean that Firefox will be collecting what websites you visit and sending them to Mozilla to pick ads?

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Tracking?

      Only if those sites are sponsoring Mozilla.

    2. Irongut Silver badge

      Re: Tracking?

      Sites "we think users will enjoy" is a very different thing from sites a specific user will enjoy based on their browsing history. Way to read too much into things duckie.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    Australis and now this?

    They really are being paid by google to drive users to abandon firefox for chrome, right?

    1. Bill the Sys Admin

      Re: Australis and now this?

      They must be with ideas like this..I will be gone to chromium pretty sharpish if they start putting ads into my browser.

  5. T. F. M. Reader

    WTF is "tiles"?

    I have no idea what this thing called "tiles" is. Is it something I disabled - and forgot - years ago? Or is it something they are going to introduce (and bypass AdBlock+ etc.)? Is this about the "Tile Tabs" add-on that Google has just found for me and that I have no intention to install anyway? That would be a relief...

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: WTF is "tiles"?

      This is the 9 "tiles" that appear when you open a new tab.

      When you install a fresh copy of Firefox on a new machine, it has no history of the sites you've visited, so they fill those tiles with sponsored links instead. Once you start visiting real sites, those sponsored sites will start disappearing.

      At that point AdBlock + isn't installed and it wouldn't help anyway, because these aren't "ads" in that sense of the word.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: WTF is "tiles"?

        Oh, that c**p. I thought they were just some sort of background decoration.

        They're tiles?

        They're there for a reason?

        WTF?

      2. T. F. M. Reader

        Re: WTF is "tiles"?

        > This is the 9 "tiles" that appear when you open a new tab.

        I just get an empty window... I'll assume that I have not installed FF for a while then, just upgraded it while keeping personal configurations. The only important thing (to me) is that this is not some AdBlock-circumventing conspiracy.

    2. Graham Marsden
      Thumb Up

      Re: WTF is "tiles"?

      They're what disappear if you open a new tab and click on the faint grey 3 x 3 block in the top right hand corner so you never see them again...

      1. Killraven

        Re: WTF is "tiles"?

        I'm with you, I found this "feature" to be utterly useless.

        1. Irongut Silver badge

          Re: WTF is "tiles"?

          You may find the most visited tiles useless but I find them very useful. You can also pin them in place on the new tab. When I open a new tab they provide links to six important sites I have pinned (El Reg and a bunch of sys admin stuff mostly) and three frequently visited sites. Very handy indeed.

          Fortunately they will continue to do so since I am not a new user and any new install of Firefox is quickly synced with my others.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: WTF is "tiles"?

            > When I open a new tab they provide links to six important sites I have pinned (El Reg and

            "Important"?

        2. Fibbles

          Re: WTF is "tiles"?

          I use those tiles every day, they're quicker than delving into my labyrinthine bookmarks menu for my most visited sites.

          I'm not overly keen on ads built into the browser. However, since they'll only appear briefly to first time users I'm not going to complain. I use FireFox every day and Mozilla have never asked me for a penny.

          1. Graham Marsden
            Boffin

            @Fibbles - Re: WTF is "tiles"?

            Perhaps you should re-organise your bookmarks a bit more coherently, then?

            1. Fibbles

              Re: @Fibbles - WTF is "tiles"?

              "Perhaps you should re-organise your bookmarks a bit more coherently, then?"

              They're organised coherently into categories so that I can always find something no matter how obscure. However, this means that some of my most visited sites are buried 3 levels deep in the bookmarks menu. It's easier to have them as tiles on the new tab page so that they're one click away. Much the same as my programs menu is well organised but my most used applications get a shortcut on the desktop.

              1. Graham Marsden

                Re: @Fibbles - WTF is "tiles"?

                "this means that some of my most visited sites are buried 3 levels deep in the bookmarks menu"

                Erm, are you aware that the Firefox Bookmarks tab has a "Most Visited" section...?

                1. Fibbles

                  Re: @Fibbles - WTF is "tiles"?

                  That folder displays most visited pages by view count which is not the same thing as a most visited website. For example, an internet forum might be one of my most visited websites but the one page that shows up in the 'most visited' bookmarks folder is the 'post successful' page. That's not particularly helpful.

                  Then there's the actual ease of use:

                  Bookmarks > Most visited > Website

                  New Tab > Website

                  I'm not expecting you to have some sort of epiphany about the tiles on the new tab page. Everyone has a preferred workflow and there's nothing wrong with that. A little less condescension would be nice though.

              2. Killraven

                Re: @Fibbles - WTF is "tiles"?

                "They're organised coherently into categories so that I can always find something no matter how obscure. However, this means that some of my most visited sites are buried 3 levels deep in the bookmarks menu."

                Do you utilize the Bookmarks Toolbar on your browser page? I have folders created there by subject matter, then bookmarks within. For the sites I visit every day there is a separate folder, and with just two clicks I can open a tab for every site within. Otherwise it's an incredibly easy way to find individual bookmarks.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: WTF is "tiles"?

          > I'm with you, I found this "feature" to be utterly useless.

          When was in your opinion the last time that Mozilla came up with a useful (for the users, not for themselves) feature?

          Private browsing? I do not recall anything newer that's not crud.

      2. Someone Else Silver badge
        Pint

        @ Graham Marsden Re: WTF is "tiles"?

        Thank you, Graham...I was wondering how to disable that annoyance. A pint for ya.

  6. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Copying Opera Discover?

    Opera 15 (the Chrome based version) added something similar called "Discover". First thing I did was find out how to disable this "feature" which includes prefetching content which someone thinks I may be interested in.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My new tab does not have those annoying tiles anyway.

    Last thing I want i my boss seeing my most visitted sites are not work related.

    If I can't block this shit appearing I wont use the browser and may actually be forced to use chrome, yuk

    1. Martin-73 Silver badge

      Palemoon is a good substitute for the corrupted versions of firefox they're releasing nowadays

      1. Adam Nealis

        Palemoon Portable is also an option

        For those with no admin rights.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Martin-73

        Dude you rock. Thanks for the link. Works brilliantly and much more stable than FF.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @ Martin-73

        Thanks for the link, I'm trying out the atom optimised version on my netbook now.

        Looks a lot faster though its early days.

        I liked the useful little tool for importing your Firefox profile, completely painless migration.

    2. Killraven

      Chrome is where this "feature" first appeared. FF quickly copied it.

    3. Irongut Silver badge

      You can delete sites from the new tab and pin them to it too. So delete your most visited non-work sites and pin some work sites to it. You might find its quite useful after all.

  8. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

    I have the browser.newtabpage.enabled config value set to false, so that I don't get that annoying tiles screen. I hope that adding ads to this doesn't mean that they will remove that option.

    Yes another reason not to "upgrade" Firefox :(

    1. R 11

      Because upgrading will surely let them know you are a new user? Do you often find all your preferences, history and bookmarks are deleted when upgrading Firefox?

      Not upgrading a browser must be one of the most idiotic things to do, given each new release - from any of the big three browsers - is awash with security updates.

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Do you often find all your preferences, history and bookmarks are deleted when upgrading Firefox?

        No, but I do find a bunch of stuff labelled "no longer supported" or plain ignored. Just because there's a value in the prefs.js file doesn't require the browser to pay any heed to it.

        Not upgrading a browser must be one of the most idiotic things to do, given each new release - from any of the big three browsers - is awash with security updates.

        Blindly upgrading any piece of software just because there's a new one is idiotic. New releases may have security fixes that I care about, but they may also have performance issues, bugs, and functional regressions that I care about more. I've lost track of the number of times I've upgraded FF or Thunderbird, only to have a "why the fsck did they do that" moment, followed by a downgrade & restore of all configuration. I'm generally several versions of FF behind the bleeding edge.

      2. Gene Cash Silver badge

        It's also awash with mozilla developer stupidity

        I am still on FF 22.0 since the new version forces you to have a tab bar, even for one single useless tab. Yes, I know you can get an addon for that, but I can also just skip upgrading.

        I think that the real Firefox developers have left the house. The only "developers" left are the resume-padding "look ma! imma firefox developer!!" losers. They remove features because it's beyond their ability to add new ones. How do you explain things like removing working useful features like the tabs preferences for absolutely no reason?

        1. Mike Flugennock

          Re: It's also awash with mozilla developer stupidity

          "I am still on FF 22.0 since the new version forces you to have a tab bar, even for one single useless tab. Yes, I know you can get an addon for that, but I can also just skip upgrading..."

          I'm on v25, and I'd love to get rid of that useless-assed single tab. What add-on is that, and where can I find it?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > Not upgrading a browser must be one of the most idiotic things to do

        Friend of mine reads email on his Forté Agent client version 2.something. His idea is that the thing is so ancient that any exploits for it are now obsolete. :-)

    2. Mike Flugennock

      browser.newtabpage.enabled

      Sweet. Thanks for the heads-up.

      Now, a new tab comes up completely blank, not even with empty tiles. Excellent.

  9. jb99

    Sound like a "feature" that nobody could possibly want.

  10. Tony Paulazzo

    For fucks sake!

    The Hitchhiker's Travel Guide describes the Marketing Department of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation as:

    "A bunch of mindless jerks who'll be the first against the wall when the revolution comes." *

    Why don't they put a little 'support us here' button on their toolbar that disappears for 6 months when you do so? If they do this and it circumvents Noscript and Adblock I'm giving up and going back to IE.

    * Root canal yesterday, still tender and the Elder Scrolls Online beta finished, so I'm pissed <off>.

    1. Sutekh

      Re: For fucks sake!

      Share and enjoy!

      At least Iceweasel probably won't include this 'feature'.

    2. peredur

      Re: For fucks sake!

      >> If they do this and it circumvents Noscript and Adblock I'm giving up and going back to IE.

      Now there's a blow for freedom. Well done, sir! For returning to a browser well known for its committment to privacy and freedom from unsolicited advertisements.

    3. Irongut Silver badge

      Re: For fucks sake!

      Are you a new user? Well you won't see the damn things then.

      Yet another reading comprehension fail.

      1. Rick Giles
        Linux

        Re: For fucks sake!

        "Are you a new user? Well you won't see the damn things then."

        My only question is, when will they do it all the time?

  11. DropBear Silver badge
    Mushroom

    How about they finally implement H.264 support instead, so I can stop watching Youtube in glorious 480p?!? Although by the looks of it, that feature is due riiiiiight after cold fusion and flying cars. Any epoch now, honest, guv...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      How about they finally implement H.264 support instead, so I can stop watching Youtube in glorious 480p?!?

      Is YouTube content better in HD?

      1. Mike Flugennock

        "YouTube in glorious 480p"

        "Is YouTube content better in HD?"

        Not especially... still the same old plane-crash porn, cheesy music videos, skanky chicks twerking, only in HD. Nothing to see here.

    2. peredur

      >> How about they finally implement H.264 support instead

      H.264 is supported as of FF 26 (http://www.techienews.co.uk/973711/firefox-26-arrives-h-264-support-blocks-java-plugins-default/)

  12. wolfetone

    All I want to know is...

    Can I turn this off and will it make it's way in to Iceweasel?

    1. Steve Graham

      Re: All I want to know is...

      My preferred way of removing the existing "tiles" feature is to set the pref browser.newtab.url to "about:blank" (or to the URL of my home page).

      Works both on stock Firefox and Iceweasel.

    2. davidp231

      Re: All I want to know is...

      I think it will, since Iceweasel is built on Firefox code, but without the branding. To all intents and purposes, it's Firefox with different logos.

      But no doubt somebody will do a newer version that doesn't have this "feature".

  13. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    Donationware?

    What's wrong with an optional 'donate here' button - £2,£5 or whatever? The user gets a guaranteed decent, fast, ad/spyware free browser and Mozilla get more income than they would from ad clicks ...

    I remember being happy to pay a small amount for Opera years ago to get the full fat, ad free version ...

    1. Sporkinum

      Re: Donationware?

      Not only that, how about ads for Adblock+, Noscript, Ghostery, etc?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The comfort of self delusion

    "The sponsored tiles will be clearly labeled as such, while still leading to content we think users will enjoy.”

    This little get out must be almost obligatory balm for the self respect these days when you're sticking ads in places you know everyone will really, really hate you for, and surely a pretty close relative of the especially specious 'relevant' ads that never, ever are, and the 'discreet' ads in games that are invariably shouty and coloured like particularly chemical looking bubble gum.

    Does anyone really swallow their own PR drivel here? I get that they need the money, so why not just 'fess up to the fact and get used to the fact you've just pimped every principle you thought you had for a meagre return.

  15. Rule of Thumb

    This doesn't seem unreasonable

    I suppose fewer eyes will read an article entitled "You'll hardly notice ads that run inside Firefox" but this is almost a non-event for my favorite browser. If this helps at all in keeping FF updates coming, I welcome my new advertisement overlords.

    I would far prefer that the new tab brought up my home page, but so long as I can pin my homepage to the new tab grid, I certainly don't care what the other cells show.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    epic fail

    This is going to be the end of the Mozilla Foundation. Did someone remember the SeaMonkey split?

  17. arealcoward

    I ditched opera because of "Discover", and im gonna ditch Firefox to if they force something like it on me

    1. Gritzwally Philbin

      SeaMonkey, my good man..SeaMonkey.

      It's got WAY more control. Seriously, I gave it a try after Camino finally bit it and have never looked back.

      1. Mike Flugennock

        SeaMonkey

        Thanks for the tip. Just downloaded a copy of the OSX version. Happy to see versions of some of my favorite add-ons -- NoScript, AdBlock+, DownloadHelper -- for SeaMonkey. Sweet.

  18. YetAnotherMatt
    Go

    Doesn't sound that bad

    The way I read it is that they will put ads in any tiles that wouldn't otherwise have content - i.e. you haven't yet visited enough sites to fill up the 9 'frequently visited' slots. So for existing users there'll be no difference, for new users they'll have a few more suggested sites (ads). Not much of an issue, really.

  19. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  20. msknight
    FAIL

    Dear Mozilla

    You're starting a war.

    Whatever you introduce, people will seek to circumvent, and then you're devs will have to stop the circumvention, and so on.

    You're people have only so much time on their hands, so as I conclude in my blog post - http://msknight.com/technilife/?p=302 - "break out the calculator, let me know how much you want from me and let me make my choice. Do it now, before the future gets so bleak that no one will give you the fee to hire the credit card machine."

  21. Haku

    "while still leading to content we think users will enjoy"

    So, porn?

  22. Fuzz

    Wow

    I see most people just like to read the headline then head here for a quick rant.

    I can't see any issue with what Mozilla are doing here.

    To all the people who can't be bothered to read the article, you'll only see these "Adverts" if you install firefox on a new computer and you will only see them until you have visited 9 different websites.

    If you are already using firefox then there will be no change, once you've been using firefox for any normal period of time it will be no different to how it is now.

    This is no different to the way the start screen for firefox is a google search page.

    1. Haku

      Re: Wow

      I think some people might be worried about feature creep.

      Especially when there's the incentive of money involved.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wow

      Since you're so well informed, mind telling us what happens if you do all your browsing in private mode? Thank you.

      (Mind you I have disabled the stupid squares feature anyway)

  23. Yugguy

    Sweet - 8 links I'll add to my list of NEVER CLICK ON.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    THIS IS FANTASTIC NEWS!!!!

    Exactly what I and millions of other users have been clamouring for during years!!! It's great that they have finally listened to us and all those bug reports in Bugzilla complaining about this most patent deficiency in the software.

    One has only to see how popular this is by looking at the comments section of the announcement on their blog.

  25. Number6

    I set Firefox to open a blank page when I spawn a new tab, I'd only see ads the first time I fired up a new installation.

  26. FuzzyTheBear
    FAIL

    Beginning of the end

    Bad bad bad .. we liked FF for we could totally get rid of advertisement. Firefox now sells us.

    What next .. they will make sure we can't do a thing about what personal info is sent to their advertising customers ? Make sure the browser does not protect us but sell us wholesale passwords and credit card numbers and history and the rest to their advert customers ?

    Major mistake : credibility down to 0

  27. godanov

    Good bye, impliment this and you are gone from ALL the computers I use, own and manage.

  28. DrXym Silver badge

    Google

    Firefox gets most of its revenue from Google which is a direct competitor to itself not just for browsers but now phone operating systems. It's not surprising if they're worried about this arrangement and want to spread themselves out a bit.

  29. Rick Giles
    Linux

    Lynx anyone

    I'm starting to like text only browsers more and more...

    Until some fuckwit starts building their page with adds for those...

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    well opera the browser for losers who know better than the rest of us has had ads for years

  31. Orange-Hat-Hacker

    Firefox......

    Sound like its time to ditch firefox.....

    thiking of Netscape Navigator someone said its good ;)

    In all seriousness whats th word these days.....regards to a browser that just browses the web, securely and isnt full off hidden adware and tracking stuff....like firefox used to be?

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