Computerworld could not find an obvious setting in Firefox's semi-hidden "about:config" section that disabled the new tab page's search field. Users can access those advanced settings by typing "about:config" in the address bar, then clicking "I'll be careful, I promise!" in the ensuing dialog titled "This might void your warranty!"
Firefox users can dispense with the new tab page's search box by clicking the small icon at the upper right, but that also eliminates the useful thumbnails, resulting in a completely blank new tab page.
Adding another search option to Firefox -- even if some object -- may make business sense for Mozilla. The company relies on contracts with search providers, notably Google, for almost all its revenue. In 2012, the most recent year for which financial data has been made public, 98 percent of Mozilla's income came from search deals, with 90 percent of that from Google.
The Mozilla-Google search contract expires in November. Mozilla is in a tighter spot than in 2011, the last time it negotiated with Google: According to analytics vendor Net Applications, Firefox's desktop share is down by 25 percent since it inked a deal with the search giant.
Firefox 31's beta can be downloaded for Windows, OS X and Linux from Mozilla's website.
Firefox 31, now in beta, adds a search box to the new tab page, aping Chrome's similar design change of last year.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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