Microsoft Continues to Bog Down Edge with Unnecessary Bloat

Posted on November 17, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft Edge with 49 Comments

Call it the Teamsification of Microsoft Edge: the software giant revealed that it will add yet another superfluous feature to its web browser. And this one is maybe not such a great idea.

“Usually, “Buy now, pay later,” or BNPL, is offered in specific e-commerce websites like Target, Walmart,” Microsoft’s Mei Hua explains of the new feature in the well-hidden announcement post. “But now, Microsoft partners with 3rd party Zip (previously Quadpay) to offer a BNPL payment option at [the] browser level. It means any purchase between $35 – $1,000 you make through Microsoft Edge can be split into 4 installments over 6 weeks.”

Yeah. And is that really a good idea?

As with any financial discussion, we should acknowledge that there are people who might take advantage of such a thing responsibly. And that there are those who simply can’t afford the thing they’re buying and are taking advantage of this feature irresponsibly, and that doing so could be part of a pattern of abuse that has long-term implications. Put more simply by an old adage, yes, we can do this thing, but no one ever asked if we should.

So there’s that. But I also take great exception with the many features that Microsoft continues to add to its browser. Sure, these things help differentiate it from the competition. But piling on the features makes Edge bloated and busy, especially for the majority of people who don’t want them. And web browsers already have an extensions model for adding functionality that doesn’t belong in the core browser. In its blind grab for extraneous revenue sources, Microsoft is starting to drive away its biggest fans.

There’s a simple answer to this problem, of course: Edge should simply advertise optional features during its first-run experience so that users who do want this dreck can add them. And then it can advertise optional new features, once, to existing users when they are made available. I know. It’s almost too elegant.

As for this BNPL nonsense, this feature is currently available in the Microsoft Edge Canary and Dev channels. But it will be made available by default to all users in Microsoft Edge in version 96. So enjoy that credit application process the first time you use it. But, seriously. Don’t use it.

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Comments (49)

49 responses to “Microsoft Continues to Bog Down Edge with Unnecessary Bloat”

  1. navarac

    Obviously we now know that Microsoft is now controlled by a load of money grabbing Shylocks.

  2. jupast

    Agreed. As others have said, why not just make things that 99% probably aren't using (a Math Solver??) an official Microsoft extension instead.


    This is going the way of MSN Messenger where it was perfect, until they loaded it up with bloat because they have to look like they're doing something with their products.

    • dftf

      "Maths Solver", "Collections", "Taskbar Pinning Wizard", "Show suggestions from Pinterest" and now this are all things I'll never use.


      Sometimes the "Shopping in Edge" can be useful, though I rarely find any of the coupon-codes ever work, and there is no way of reporting when a code doesn't work.

  3. hrlngrv

    The only people who fit in at MSFT would NEVER pass up any opportunity at monetization.

  4. willr

    Paul seriously, do you know what's going on inside Microsoft? I would love to know wtf is going on, because as of this buy now/pay later thing, we are now into the realm of ridiculous. A lot of the decisions being made lately aren't those of a level headed, reasonable person

    • navarac

      "One flew over the cuckoos nest" comes to mind.

    • Paul Thurrott

      I can't even try to explain this. It's troubling.

      • hrlngrv

        Only because you're unwilling to believe the worst in people no matter how often they give free vent to their worst inner selves. Perhaps your own sense of self worth makes it, er, problematic for you to consider that you've spent the greater chunk of your life focusing on a corporation which puts the A in Amoral.

    • ontariopundit

      Microsoft's senior management must really hate the Edge team. First, they throw all the good work the team did fixing the debacle that was Edge in 2015 by making Edge a clone of Chrome. Now they add something that's 100% useless?


      SNL couldn't even come up with something this funny. Life really is stranger than fiction.


      Does Microsoft want people to associate the use of Edge with financial desperation?


      Having the buy now, pay later label means that using Edge is something you do based on your socioeconomic status. If you are poor, you use Edge. If you won't want to be perceived as poor, you use Chrome or FireFox or something else.


      This is very risky from a reputational standpoint. Once people perceive your product as being for people without money there goes your reputation.


      Microsoft has worked long and hard to try to make the Surface line of devices an alternative to Apple's MacBooks and iPads. If they start offering discount brand-type products under the Microsoft label then there goes the Surface reputation.

  5. cnc123

    Thank you, Paul for reporting on and voicing an opinion on this. This sort of thing is predatory and has no business being in a web browser. This is payday lending level stuff, and Microsoft should not be taking a cut of that.

    • navarac

      In the UK, in 2015, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) introduced stricter rules on payday lending to help regulate the market, making it fairer for borrowers. With a bit of luck this BNPL crap will be a "North America Only" thing, like so much else, thank goodness.

  6. bleeman

    I've also noticed on the Xbox Rewards app on the Xbox, when you attempt to go to the Rewards page it no longer takes you to the website that you go to on the PC. It now forces you to use Bing. I tried uninstalling Bing to see if that would then default back to Edge but no go. Instead, it just takes you to the Bing app so you can reinstall it. So, this force it down your throat approach isn't just limited to the PC. I don't mind Bing per se as I use it regularly, the problem is without accessing the website you don't see all the other available reward earning options, just the 3 daily ones.

  7. waethorn

    Microsoft is also using Rakuten to handle their Microsoft 365 affiliate program.

  8. bats

    LOL...why the Microsoft hate, so early? I actually don't see the big deal. I mean....so what? Does this plug-in effect browser performance? it's clear to me, as with every single Microsoft product, that they trying to transform their software into a platform. This is what I was saying years ago....that the browser is no longer just a browser.....it's an "Operating System" within an Operating System. In this case, Microsoft Edge is also trying to be a portal of sorts. I applaud them for trying this. My only question is this: Will their partnership with Quadpay, allow the user to BNPL for ALL stores and not just a few? If its for ALL stores, I can't see the problem with that, but if not then I don't see the point. However, If people don't like it, then they shouldn't use it. My guess, is that with Edge's probably close tie in with the Windows, that performance hinderance could be kept at a minimum. Bloatware is "ware" that slows down the main software right? IMO, we should wait and see. I bet ya know, Microsoft expects sales to rise for their Surface computer now. 🤣

    • ontariopundit

      It's not a big deal. Until it is :). Ok, let's put silly statements aside.


      ''However, If people don't like it, then they shouldn't use it. My guess, is that with Edge's probably close tie in with the Windows, that performance hinderance could be kept at a minimum. Bloatware is "ware" that slows down the main software right?''


      I'd argue bloatware is anything that interferes with the core functionality of a piece of software. Buy Now Pay Later is not in the least part of the core functionality of a browser unless your primary reason for using a browser is buying things when you are poor.


      BNPL will no doubt need an interface. It will need to be discoverable. That means it'll need to generate friction in the daily use of your browser. Friction gets in the way of efficient use of a device. To me that friction is bloat


      ''IMO, we should wait and see. I bet ya know, Microsoft expects sales to rise for their Surface computer now."


      Unless they cut their profit margins they won't.


      BNPL is a double-edged sword. The primary target audience for BNPL are people without money. If people get wind of Edge becoming a haven for BNPL then that sends the market a signal that you should only be using Edge if you're poor. Not a good signal to send if you want to sell a premium device to customers who don't need to use BNPL.


      There's also the problem of financial fraud. Yes, any website in any browser can lead to fraud. But, when the browser is explicitly designed to engage in financial transactions then you have that much more opportunity for nefarious actors to abuse it.

  9. martinusv2

    I know it may be useless to do it. But sent feedback from Edge. If many do, they may reconsider.

  10. jdawgnoonan

    Is this one more feature like the annoying coupons that I have to repeatedly turn off when the annoying icon shows up and I find that Microsoft has turned it back on with an update? I seriously wonder how many people use these annoying "Features". Fortunately, in the me too world of Chromium based browsers there will always be alternatives that lack these annoyances.

  11. scovious

    I understand wanting to see this as an extension, but due to the inherent instability and untrustworthiness of some extensions, and the fact we are talking about payments here - I would personally only use a service like this if it was made by an extremely trustworthy company like Microsoft. Trusting something as important as payments, or even password management to an extension is just risky unless you are absolutely sure you know what you are doing.

  12. matsan

    As an international user from Sweden I'm dead sick and tired of Microsoft and its US-centric approach and especially the msn startpage. Just looking at the What's New for Edge 95:

    • TV Streaming from philo+ US Only (maybe not a great name for a service, but who am I to judge)
    • Hispanic Heritage themes
    • Ratings and Reviews - no support for anything in Sweden
    • Express Checkout - guess what happens if i change my shipping address to Sweden


    If Microsoft is aiming for another bogged down platform they are on the right track. For good measure just make it close to impossible for the average user to change the default browser.

    Sigh!

  13. Rainer Fuchs

    I never bothered moving from Chrome to Edge. It was so predictable that Microsoft would "load" its new browser—supposed to be faster, more lightweight, more secure—with all sorts of useless crap.

    • ontariopundit

      I must confess I never moved from Chrome to Edge because Edge does not have Google account integration. My work account is capable of being both dual Google and Microsoft but my personal accounts are all Google/GMail based (including my own personal domain email).


      On the surface Edge seems OK but Microsoft has a long history of producing bad browsers. Fool me once, like Internet Explorer, shame on you. Fool me twice, like with Edge 2015, shame on me.


      Besides, Edge is a clone of Chrome and it has, in many ways, a worse interface that also isn't cross-platform. Chrome can be found on pretty much every single Windows, Mac, Chromebook and Linux-box out there. Edge. You'd have to install it yourself.

  14. innitrichie

    Chrome is rapidly becoming the lightweight alternative to Edge.

  15. brettscoast

    I cannot believe Microsoft in all good conscience would go down this path. In what has been a PR nightmare for MS in regard to removing a user's choice of being able to select their preferred default web browser they double down foisting this BNPL crap on user's through the edge browser. Not cool.

  16. StagyarZilDoggo

    I guess this will be US only (maybe US/Canada), like a lot of Microsoft stuff these days. Usually we Europeans grumble about these - this time, not so much...

    • wright_is

      Yes, over the last decade, I've often cried out that these US only products are exactly what I want, and why can't we have them here...


      This time, I'm muttering, "thank God for small mercies!"

  17. sgbassett

    I have enjoyed Edge telling me if there are lower prices on products and searching for coupons. But this seems a step too far. Why is financing a purchase once you have decided what to buy a browser function? Searching for what to buy seems more like a browser function, but not financing.

    • dftf

      Even that feature ("Shopping in Edge") I've found less-useful recently for a few reasons: firstly, the coupon-codes rarely work, and there's no option to report-back ones that don't. Second, I've been on some sites where it oddly gives me price-comparisons in US Dollars, even though I'm in the UK (and no, I'm not using a VPN). And lastly, it doesn't always detect the price on a page properly: an item might cost £60, but there might be a bit on the page advertising that you could pay in four instalments of £15, and Edge detects that £15 as the item-price and proudly announces "Price has dropped to the lowest we've seen". Seems more of a bother recently

  18. Bart

    Bizar Microsoft doesn't make an extension of this sort of features instead of putting it in the browser. Where nobody wants it in the first place.

  19. squage

    This at the same time they're trying to strong-arm everyone into using Edge in Win 11. The old "embrace, extend, extinguish" methodology appears alive and well in their adoption of Chromium.

  20. winner

    "Bloat.....it's what we do!"

  21. mattbg

    I miss the days when I paid for Windows every few years and it was focused on helping me get through my day productively.


    Windows is now starting to look more like a loss leader they use to sell you other products.

  22. christianwilson

    As Bart stated here already, this is a great example of something Microsoft could release as an "official" Edge extension. Same with the coupon feature. These are useful functions for some people, but they add unnecessary bloat and complexity to what started out as a very good alternative to Chrome.


    Most of us just want a standards compliant browser that is fast and secure with minimal impact on battery life. Edge started out that way. It was nice.

  23. tony_ansley

    I assume they are offering a way to disable this feature...like they do for the shopping feature?

  24. sherlockholmes

    I think its time for The Gong on Windows Weekly today .....

  25. sharps

    I wonder if Microsoft gets a cut of the money from their "Third Party" Zip?

  26. Chris_Kez

    And to think that Edge started life as Spartan; it is becoming anything but.

    • Paul Thurrott

      This is the perfect commentary.

    • hrlngrv

      MSFT learns from mistakes, and $$$ is the usual teacher.


      If bloat-free software could generate more revenues than, er, feature-rich software, MSFT would make bloat-free software. Ponder the opposite case. This is nothing more that just another dollop of evidence that $$$ is all that matters to MSFT.

  27. JH_Radio

    I think this could be useful for some folks. My thing is if you don't wanna use it, don't.


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