Google Inc. on Wednesday ran an ad for Firefox on its popular homepage, giving the open-source Web browser a big marketing boost over their joint rival Microsoft Corp.

The ad promoted the key advantage supporters claim Firefox has
over Microsoft’s Internet Explorer — security. IE, which has more than
85 percent of the market, is a favorite target for hackers and virus

The one-line text ad read, "Firefox with Google
Toolbar: tabbed browsing, safer surfing," and included a picture of the
toolbar on Firefox. Only people using IE could see the ad.

Firefox Logo on black"We’re
super excited about it," Mary Colvig, spokeswoman for Mozilla Corp.,
said. Mozilla, the for-profit subsidiary of the Mozilla Foundation,
develops and markets the open-source Firefox.

declined to discuss the ad, referring all questions to Google. A
spokeswoman for the Mountain View, Calif., company confirmed Google ran
the ad.

"Google is promoting Firefox with Google Toolbar
because tabbed browsing and safer surfing help provide our users with a
great search experience," the spokeswoman said in an email.

has run promotions before of its products, bundled with third-party
offerings, the spokeswoman said. For example, the company has run ads
about Google Video that highlighted content from the CBS network and
the National Basketball Association.

Goggle has had a
joint promotional relationship with Mozilla since last year, when the
search engine started providing text ads promoting Firefox plus the
Google Toolbar to its advertising network of third-party Web sites.

latest ad reflects Google’s continuing close relationship with Mozilla.
In his blog, Paul Kim, director of product marketing for Mozilla, said
"thanks to the marketing team at Google for the support."

By Antone Gonsalves