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Mozilla Takes on Microsoft in China

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Like most Chinese Internet users, Chengdu native Gang Lu for years used Microsoft's (MSFT) Internet Explorer for his Web browsing. He switched to Firefox, the open-source browser, six years ago only after going to Britain for graduate school and finding most of his friends and colleagues using it. Today, Lu is the London director of business development at Netvibes Asia, which offers personalized home pages, and spends much of his time working with Chinese Web startups. He says he's frustrated because so few Chinese sites support Firefox. "I have visited quite a few Internet companies and talked to their developers. More than 95% of these guys say: 'We just need to make sure our Web site or our service can work on IE. I don't care about Firefox.'"

Now, Firefox fans are trying to boost the upstart browser's Chinese profile. Last month, Mozilla signed an agreement with China's most popular search engine, Baidu (BIDU), to cement an existing relationship that allows users of Firefox's Chinese edition to use Baidu's search engine. That was the latest in a series of China developments. In July the Mozilla Foundation, the open-source group that promotes Firefox, formally set up a presence in Beijing to spread the gospel of the open-source movement and convert as many Chinese Internet users to Firefox as it can.

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