Latest Windows 10 Insider Preview Build tries to dissuade users from installing Chrome or Firefox
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Microsoft has managed to stir the hornet's nest once again. In the latest Windows 10 Insider Builds, users have reported seeing a prompt that pops up when they try to install a third-party browser such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox reminding them Edge is already installed. Luckily though, it's just a prompt and not a block so it can very well be sidelined.
Microsoft says the new prompt is part of an experiment and is A/B testing it to gauge community feedback. The idea seems to be to interrupt the install process for third-party browsers in an effort to drive adoption of Edge as the default browser. According to NetMarketShare, Edge holds just 4.29% of the market as opposed to 62% for Chrome, 11.87% for Internet Explorer, and 10.79% for Firefox. Seeing the numbers, it is understandable why Microsoft would want to encourage users to adopt Edge but Insiders and Windows users in general are apparently miffed.
The wording in the prompt looks like it has been neatly crafted to avoid any sort of antitrust issues. It doesn't mention or deride any browser by name. Clicking 'Install anyway' installs the 'other browsers' without issues. Since this is an A/B test, not all installations of Build 17755 show this prompt. This was also confirmed by a Microsoft spokesperson to ZDNet.
We've tested this functionality with Insiders only - The Windows Insider Program enables Microsoft to test different features, functionality and garner feedback before rolling out broadly. Customers remain in control and can choose the browser of their choice."
Attempts to make users stick to a particular browser are not new. Microsoft did the same during the Windows 9x era with Internet Explorer earning quite a bum rap that haunts them even today. Google, too, throws up prompts to use Chrome whenever Google sites are visited using Edge or Firefox. The 'Try Microsoft Edge' prompt shows up when visiting Microsoft sites from Chrome as well. Apparently, Firefox still remains the less interfering browser of the big three.
Prompts within a browser and those within an OS are two different things, though and users will have starkly polarizing opinions about Microsoft's move — which is probably what the company wants to know in the first place.