Indie web browser maker Vivaldi has publicly lashed out at Microsoft’s user-hostile and potentially illegal behavior with Microsoft Edge.
“Vivaldi is not afraid of competing on a level playing field,” Vivaldi founder and CEO Jon von Tetzchner wrote this past weekend. “Why is Microsoft?”
Mr. von Tetzchner is referring, of course, to the terrible revelations of the past few months, during which Microsoft made it dramatically harder for users to switch to their preferred web browser, quietly made it impossible in some cases even when the user figured out how, and then pledged to block efforts to bypass its onerous restrictions.
Von Tetzchner points out that Microsoft is also discouraging users that try to download Vivaldi. “There’s no need to download a new web browser,” a message at the top of the search results in Edge reads. “Microsoft recommends using Microsoft Edge for a fast, secure, and modern web experience that helps you save time and money.” I pointed out this a few weeks back as well.
He also documents the hilarity that ensues when you try to make a non-Edge web browser your default, and that Edge, which will launch under several conditions even if you do figure out the obtuse Windows 11 UI for default browsers, then tries to change to Microsoft’s recommended browser settings again. This will, of course, make Edge the default again.
“Microsoft’s moves seem desperate,” he writes. “And familiar. It is clear they don’t want you to use other browsers. They even offer to pay you to use the browser via their Microsoft Rewards program. This is not the behavior of a confident company developing a superior browser. It’s the behavior of a company openly abusing its powerful position to push people to use its inferior product, simply because it can. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200. Can you say monopoly?”
I can, and I did. But my voice is tiny, and it’s important that others with real stakes point out this behavior publicly. And Mr. von Tetzchner has some advice for his users as well.
“If you are a Windows user who encounters these difficulties, spread the word on social media,” he writes. “Ask Microsoft why they are so scared of letting users choose the browser they want. If you are in the US or EU, you can write to or call your representatives to ask them to investigate Microsoft for these obvious anti-competitive practices. Most of all, don’t let Microsoft win at this stacked game. Persist until you can use your browser of choice on Windows – and help your friends or colleagues to do the same.”