In 2001, the US government filed an antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft, alleging that it had abused monopolistic power by merging its Internet Explorer browser with its Windows PC operating system. The lawsuit was eventually settled and the effects of the settlement expired in 2007, but Microsoft has been wary of how aggressively it pushed its browsers over others on the Windows side. However, it seems that Microsoft is ready to start escalating the browser wars again with a new effort to deter people from downloading Google Chrome.
Microsoft has reportedly implemented a feature in Microsoft Edge to deter users from downloading Google Chrome through the web browser. If Microsoft Edge users browse the Google Chrome download site, they will receive unsolicited messages to the browser that offend Chrome and encourage users to stick to Edge. Microsoft Edge does not actively prevent the user from downloading Google Chrome, but the prompt attempts to redirect users away with deceptive buttons.
Several different messages can be sent to the user if they visit the Google Chrome download site. These messages include, “” I hate saving money, “no one ever said. Microsoft Edge is the best browser for online shopping,” “That browser is so 2008! Do you know what’s new? Microsoft Edge?” and “Microsoft Edge runs on the same technology as Chrome, with the added trust of Microsoft.” These messages are accompanied by a single button with its own quote. For example, the shopping message has a button that says “Buy smarter now.”
Of course, that button will redirect users away from the Google Chrome site. But what’s particularly frustrating is that there’s no clearly stated button that says “Stay” or “No, thank you.” There’s a small “X” in the corner, but it’s easy to miss. The intention, of course, is to keep users on Edge, and Microsoft is willing to test what users might think is appropriate to do.
As of October 2021, browser usage reports claim that Google Chrome is used by anywhere from 52.5% to 66.7% of Internet users. Edge, on the other hand, is reported to be used by between 3% and 4.6% of browsers. Microsoft clearly has room to grow, but Chrome’s market dominance will be hard to offset without aggressive efforts.
By comparison, Apple’s Safari browser is akin to Microsoft’s Edge, being the default browser on iOS devices. But starting with iOS 14, Apple makes it relatively straightforward for iOS users to switch away from Apple’s Safari and to Chrome, Edge, Firefox or several other browsers; there are certainly no prompts warning users not to switch. Microsofts changes are bound to be controversial as they listen back to 2001 in unpleasant ways.
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A recent update gives Xbox One and Series S / X users access to the new version of Microsoft Edge, which adds some extra functionality.
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