Vivaldi: Microsoft is Up To Its Old Tricks Again

Posted on December 13, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft Edge, Web browsers with 29 Comments

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.”

Tagged with ,

Join the discussion!


Don't have a login but want to join the conversation? Become a Thurrott Premium or Basic User to participate

Comments (29)

29 responses to “Vivaldi: Microsoft is Up To Its Old Tricks Again”

  1. whistlerpro

    New Edge icon anybody?

    • wright_is

      I already did. Switched to SUSE on my main PC in October and bought a Mac mini last week.

      • red.radar

        I switched to PopOS! On my main PC and low and behold Steam actually allows me to one click run windows titles. I am running MS flight simulator and even Halo. All from within Linux.

  2. j5

    Sooo it’s a pop up ad but it doesn’t stop you from downloading it and you can ignore it sooo???

    • wright_is

      Well, no. They made it more difficult to set another browser as the default - you have to currently select all of the various file-extensions that belong to Edge and set them to point to your web browser of choice (and hope Microsoft doesn't reset them again with the next update).

      Oh, and if you've actually done all of that, Windows will just ignore your preferences, when it sees fit and open Edge anyway.

      • j5

        I’m being a bit punchy in my comment. But honestly this only matters to us tech nerds. Normie Windows users won’t even notice or care. If anything this will be a “scrunch nose” moment for them, if that, chalk up to “computer stuff” move forward with what they’re doing.

        I just don’t think this is a big deal anymore. The market has changed in this area. Most people do stuff on their smartphone. If anything I can see Microsoft making some changes to this due to the small minority of tech nerds like us and tech publications. But it falls squarely in the pop up or notification nuisance for most of Windows users and enterprise users, actually the corporation I work for tells us to use Edge over Chrome for work applications. I think ultimately this will be a tempest in a teapot. But I could be wrong.

        • camelot5

          Right, and that's exactly what Microsoft is hoping for; that people won't notice and thereby using their monopoly to keep you in their world..advertising and all.

          This would be like buying a TV from one vendor with no way to change the channel, and being forced to watch the same channel with ads. A captive audience because it's too difficult to switch to another channel.

          • j5

            I've been into home computers since my first one, a Tandy 1000. Fast forward to today with Windows 11. And honestly this thing of Edge coming up when you search via the Start Menu, click on a news widget, and one other one I can't remember just isn't that big of a deal. It's a tempest in a teapot really. Even normies and non-tech savy people just aren't going to care about this. And probably won't even notice because no one does internet searches via the Start Menu and no one is going to use the news widgets. And if Edge comes up because you click on some internal Windows 11 component, like for tech support or a KB article...who cares. From a normie/non-tech save person view that actually makes sense on a certain level because it's a Microsoft product, not Google/Chrome or Mozilla/Firefox.

            Also the market has changed. NO ONE cares about this except tech nerds like us and especially Boomer and Gen Z tech nerds that were in the thick of the Microsoft legal problems of the 90s. Mills and Gen Xs don't care about this. They're using their smartphones for most things.

            I also totally understand that this is a way for Microsoft to get Windows 11 users to use Edge as their web what! Windows 11 is a Microsoft product. This isn't the 90s where you walk into Circuit City or BestBuy and it's only Windows computers. You have equal choices with Chromebook's, Mac, iPads, and Android tablets to do "computer work." In fact the majority of home user computer work can be done on all these platforms and an iPhone or Android smartphone. I know plenty of people that don't own a desktop PCs but use their smartphone for everything and if they have to use a computer for something they use an old laptop.

            Long winded reply lol. But I think this is much ado about nothing because the market has changed.

  3. Craig Hinners

    I can count on my hands the number of times I’ve done something to auto-open a browser link in the past year. Per the security overlords, we’re not even supposed to click links in email anymore.

    Your impassioned pleas on Windows Weekly last week didn’t sell me. You made a distinction between desktop and mobile OSs. As if to say, a desktop device must not only allow installation of different browsers but must also support changing it with one click, whereas a mobile device is well within its right to not allow different browsers altogether.

    I don’t understand the hair splitting here. Because what do “mobile” and “desktop” even mean anymore, anyway? Everyone gets Windows on mobile devices (laptops) anyway and nobody except diehard TWiT listeners—of which precisely zero are amongst the muckity muck regulators on Capitol Hill—could even grasp the technological nuances between the two, presuming one could even provide an objective, scientific, legally binding distinction, seeing as how this is 2021, not 1998.

    With that said, I’ll call your bluff regarding desktop vs mobile, and change the default browser on my daughter’s Chromebook the next time she’s here.

    Anyway, look, I get your rant about the ham-handed way this has been handled and communicated by MS. I get plenty of FUD from Windows due to the fact that I run the DuckDuckGo extension in Edge, including popups about extensions changing my default search engine and a scary orange dot over the Security Checkup icon in Settings. Yes, Windows gives a lot of things to be irritated about, and it sucks to see functionality seemingly removed or reverted, but we all have choose our hills to die on, and this is one ain’t mine.

  4. mike2thel73

    I use them all: chrome, edge, Firefox (focus on mobile), Vivaldi, Safari, Opera, (stable & beta's) & others across multiple platforms. I've been using edge on Android & windows for syncing purposes. I do not own any windows 11 systems and I am not sure if I'm ever going to buy hardware just so I can install 11. For the time being the BS that MS is projecting on edge isn't affecting me at the moment but I am troubled by their behavior. BTW I'm loving the Samsung Galaxy book pro that I bought my brother-in-law. It has windows 11 but that's not the main reason for my liking the laptop.

  5. darilds

    Vivaldi is loving the free press. They'll get more downloads from their typical Linux users.

  6. winner

    This is a great case for staying on Windows 10, and then moving to Linux or MacOS.

    • nbplopes

      When it come to these tactics Apple is way worst. It’s the master and MS the pupil.

      In fact, the MS comeback to these tactics I’m sure it drives inspiration from Apple.

      I would to see the nerve of EU or US admins to do something about this while giving Apple a green lands for it all.

    • bleduc

      Same here. I moved to macOS. Personal choice here, I grew up on FreeBSD so macOS is more familiar to me than Linux.

    • navarac

      Done just that (Linux - Debian). I have totally abandoned Microsoft, including the Launcher on Android.

  7. mi1984

    Just what do you think you're doing, Dave? Dave, I really think I'm entitled to an answer to that question.

  8. brettscoast

    This coersive control by Microsoft caused me to dump edge returning to chrome. Well done Microsoft.

    • Donte

      I thought about going back to Chrome, then I remember the "software reporting tool" that Google installs with Chrome and it randomly runs causing 100% CPU spikes. The tools runs to catalog and report what you are doing....oh I mean looks for bad applications for security sake that is.

      Its basically impossible to get rid of, anything you do to kill it is simply replaced/fixed the next time Chrome updates.

      A chromium based browser is the best, or most compatible, way to currently surf the web, but its not with Chrome, that is for sure.

      • brettscoast

        You make a valid point about Chrome, it is a major drain on CPU/RAM especially when running with multiple tabs open which I have for my workflow. The most disillusioning thing about all this is I loved using Edge everything worked well smooth performance lots of positives but because of Microsoft's inexplicable desire to ramp up Edge's influence for want of a better word I cannot use this browser, adding BNPL was the final straw. If Microsoft decides at some point to reverse some of this stuff they have foisted on users then of course I would reconsider going back.

        • Donte

          I don't have a problem with Edge yet. They could mess it up for me.

          So far I can turn off what they have done, like the shopping stuff. I can also change my default search to DuckDuck and my start page when opening and with the help of an extension, set my new tab start page. Lastly I can use Ublock which is a HUGE extension for me. I never see ads on YouTube or any other place for that this website :)

          I have tried them all, was a big FF fan for years but right now it has the most issues with web pages than any of the chromium based browsers. I also use Mac's daily, so I need a browser that goes across platforms, syncing everything and so I use Edge on the PC, Mac and iOS.

          • camelot5

            Once Google removes Manifest v2 and moves exclusively to v3, most browser-based adblockers will be useless.

  9. justme

    None of this is a surprise as you pointed out, Paul. The only question is - will anything other than complaints from enterprise customers make Microsoft change course?

    • ontariopundit

      Enterprise customers don't have to worry. They typically have the power to make the requisite changes to Windows to use whatever browser they want.

      For instance, on my work computer I never ever saw Cortana when it was being pushed by Microsoft and Chrome has always been the default.

  10. yaddamaster

    On the list of things that Microsoft does that upset me and make me switch.....this isn't even on the radar.

    Microsoft isn't a monopoly. There is ChromeOS, OSX, and Linux. And the reality is most people can do 90% of their daily personal tasks with iOS and Android. And you know how hard it is to make changes to default settings in Android? I can't even figure out how to make other video players stay on top while playing like youtube.

    I've been using Brave. It works. I mean seriously - how often do you launch a browser by clicking on a link anyhow? This really seems like much ado about nothing. Perhaps I'm missing something.

  11. davidblouin

    Oh the humanity...

  12. vladimir

    such a pity that they behave like this. I am almost ashamed to say that I like edge and I have been using it as my primary browser. Now I am going to move back to Firefox

    • camelot5

      Under the hood, it's a fantastic browser. Ties in nicely with O365 if you use it, has lots of great features.

      But, Microsoft is doing bad things with it. The BNPL issue, Microsoft "Rewards", ads, and making it ridiculously hard to change to something else. Very poor ethics.

      I want a lean browser, with decent features and gets out of the way.

  13. normcf

    This is going to be like IE6. They'll convince corporate web developers to build in their idiosyncrasies and break all the other browsers.