Users Push Back Against Bloatware in Microsoft Edge

Posted on December 1, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft Edge with 49 Comments

It looks like I’m not the only one complaining about bloatware in Microsoft Edge: Microsoft’s customers are pushing back too.

Two weeks ago, I warned that Microsoft is bogging down Edge with unnecessary bloat, the most egregious and recent example being the inclusion of a terrible new feature called Buy now, pay later (BNPL). But now that Edge 96 is broadly available and the general public is finally seeing this feature, the complaints have started rolling in.

“Microsoft added Buy Now Pay Later into Edge (and so Windows 10 and 11 base OS), a thing which is known to be abused to harm people,” one customer tweeted. “The tags on the post on Microsoft’s website say it all. Keep speaking out.”

“I don’t want it,” one user wrote on Microsoft’s TechCommunity forums (first seen by Ars Technica). “I don’t even want the shopping and discovery features y’all have pushed out. These kinds of things should be separated into extensions. I am way more interested in a lightning-fast browser that uses minimal resources while being secure. Edge on Mac is getting heavier and heavier.”

Those comments neatly parrot what I said two weeks ago.

When the new, Chromium-based Microsoft Edge was first being developed, it made sense for Microsoft to move quickly to add new features. After all, it had a lot of catching up to do, not just to match what Chrome offered, but to add back many of the best features from legacy Edge. But in the past year or more, these updates haven’t slowed down. They’ve just gotten more superfluous. And as I warned previously, they’re bogging down Edge and making it bigger, slower, and potentially less secure.

Consider the list of new features that Microsoft is advertising in Edge 96. In addition to a new efficiency mode and improved password updating, two features I can’t imagine anyone would complain about, Edge 96 includes some real fluff. Like more Microsoft Reward integration, new themes, and an integrated (and horrible looking) skiing game. But users are also seeing ads to sign-up for Pluto TV in the browser, for some reason. And then that terrible BNPL feature.

Where does it stop?

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Comments (49)

49 responses to “Users Push Back Against Bloatware in Microsoft Edge”

  1. southwark

    Been using Edge for over a year now but now I constantly get prompted to get Bing Rebate cashback at shopping sites, even when I'm just browsing something like Newegg. I'm giving Firefox a trial to see if that's better now.

    Really unbelievable they finally managed the shake the perception of Internet Explorer only to ruin all of that goodwill in less than 12 months

    • Donte

      You can turn that off, right from the prompt. In the drop down there is a configure option. Or you can go to.....

      Settings....Privacy, Search, and Services, then to the service section. I shut off the top 5.

      • bkkcanuck

        Can you really trust that it is all off... When a company starts abusing your trust, it starts becoming harder to trust that they would allow you to fully 'turn it all off'.

        • Jeremy Turnley

          If you want to use a product, you have to trust that when you click the buttons that they are doing what they say they are doing.

          Otherwise, you need to find a new browser that both does all the things that you want it to do and does so in a way that doesn't do anything you don't, is 100% secure, constantly updated to stay that way, and that you have 100% faith isn't being false about any of it. It'll be easier to find Atlantis, but it's your quest if you wish to undertake it.

        • Donte

          You can use Chrome instead :)

        • Dzomlija

          Can you trust that the option buttons in Chrome or Firefox do the same? That they are indeed "off" when you have set them so? Can you say the same for any settings in any software?

        • qaelith2112

          Why wouldn't you be able to? These particular items are all "suggest something to me" or "tell me about coupons". Seems like you'd know if it's still suggesting things or giving you coupons after you turn these things off.

      • wright_is

        The point being, it is opt-out. These sort of thing should be add-ones that are opt-in, and not bloating the experience.

        • Donte

          Sure I get it. However since the Web basically revolves around the Chromium browser engine, and all of them are free, I try to pick the least invasive or not so odd.

          Google Chrome is a privacy nightmare and I would never run it. I think Brave and Vavaldi are great ideas but just odd and a bit flakey when I tried them. Plus those companies need to make money somehow so how are the doing it? Vs Microsoft who can give Edge away free.

          Edge is my go to choice. I get they are bloating it out, and they may push me away and back to FireFox, but FireFox give me the most issues with web pages. If you think about it FireFox stands alone with its engine and a ever decreasing user base.

    • red.radar

      imagine the damage to Goodwill to other properties if this isn't reigned in. Look at what they did to Windows 11 start menu and the over zealous pushing of Bing results.

      Microsoft seemed to repair their image but they are slipping into old untrustworthy ways.

      I am questioning my usage of not just Edge but other products.

      • hrlngrv

        MSFT is filled with very smart employees who understand that it just doesn't matter what users say or write, it only matters what users USE. As long as disaffected users keep using MSFT products and services, MSFT is perfectly happy to rake in the revenues while ignoring all the complaints.

        Complaints mean nothing if complainers fail to seek out and use 3rd party alternatives.

  2. bschnatt

    I think Microsoft is taking cues from WeChat. They want this browser to be and do everything for everyone, and that's not a good thing. They already track more than they should, and I can see this moving to a Chinese-style controlled behavior platform. Apple is heading in this direction too with their products. Not a good trend...

    • hrlngrv

      MSFT has already lost the market for phone apps (at least this phase). MSFT's only options for monetizing the Internet are Edge and Bing. Thus, it's an existential imperative for MSFT to generate as much revenue as possible from Edge and Bing. The ONLY way to begin to cause MSFT any doubts about this sort of thing is to provide immediate evidence that it'd REDUCE revenues, meaning the only way to get MSFT's attention is to cease using Edge and Bing until MSFT is forced to accept that it's only practical path forward is as the anti-Google rather than Google-in-Redmond.

      Putting this yet another way, there are times it may serve one's own long-term interests to use Google web search instead of Bing and Chrome/Opera/Vivaldi/Brave/etc rather than Edge to make a point MSFT would be forced to recognize.

      Competition is the only truly effective remedy for MSFT's behavior with respect to Edge. Time to use it no matter how evil one may believe Google to be.

  3. hrlngrv

    If people just complain about but continue using Edge, it won't stop.

    The only way to get MSFT's attention is for a LARGE % of heretofore Edge users to cease using Edge and Bing. An actual honest to God boycott is the only thing which would get MSFT's attention. IOW, only if MSFT itself sees this as a revenue LOSER would MSFT begin the process of changing its collective mind.

    Anything less is just the bleating of sheep, annoying at most.

    • navarac

      Just one, I know, but I don't use Bing, Edge, or W11. I'm also only using W10 10% of my time - gone to Linux - so I've given up caring too much about Microsoft. I have used Windows since Dos 3 and it has all served me well. Shame really.

  4. shark47

    The sad thing is, Edge is actually a very good browser. I love how well it performs on a 3+ year old PC with Windows 11. They're going to ruin it with all of this bloatware.

  5. davidblouin

    We've just passed a new low for click-bating, an article about one tweet and on reply...

  6. trevorcurtis

    I used Edge for a while, but I got tired of having to turn all the new stuff off, especially the Shopping and News features. I went back to Chrome because it was "cleaner" from a feature perspective. I am not a fan of Google Chrome because of all the phone-home analytics they are no doubt collecting on me. I've tried the alternative Chromium-based browsers like Brave, but there's always something annoying or broken with them and I have to return to Chrome.

    Oh well. I guess Chrome has huge market share for a reason.

    • F4IL

      There is also the ungoogled chromium project which removes privacy invasive features such as hard dependencies on google services and adds a few controls for more granular control. It lacks support for widevine so you can't watch netflix but it is certainly cleaner and more privacy focused than edge.

    • LT1 Z51

      You've never used Chromium, like the base browser? Back before Edge when I had to have a Chrome based browser on my machine for "odd things" it was my go to. Worked just like Chrome (as it was Chrome minus auto-updating and Google stuff).

  7. jerrybumgarner

    I've been using Edge for over a year now. When I first switched, it worked great and was fast. In the past couple of months, I'm finding more and more sites that don't work well with Edge anymore. I wind up having to use Chrome again to get something done.

  8. jeffferguson

    "These kinds of things should be separated into extensions."

    My comments exactly. Can't this all be extension-based so I can decide whether or not I want to enable the extension?

  9. bpawlak

    Microsoft’s new direction has motivated me to actively start avoiding its products. I am back to FireFox from Edge and even removed Microsoft Launcher from my phone. I know sometimes the alternatives are equally bad but it still made me feel good to do it now. Sometimes its about sending a message.   

  10. whistlerpro

    Interesting to see this story made it to the BBC News homepage, and they are very picky about the tech topics they cover. I think this issue is blowing up. This feature might not last long enough for Chris Capossela to need to defend it.

    • hrlngrv

      No need to defend its continuation maybe, still a need to defend how it could have happened in the 1st place.

      I could be wrong, but I suspect no one in MSFT outside his department pays any attention to Capossela.

    • navarac

      I'd be surprised if Capossela didn't veto or obfuscate the issue on Windows Weekly.

  11. brettscoast

    It's just a shame that Microsoft has turned what was otherwise an excellent browser into a bloated mess and at the same time alienating it's userbase by not letting people select the browser of their choice, then removing a workaround, unconscionable behavior at best.

  12. justme

    It wont stop. The last vestiges of the "old and evil" Microsoft are driving this particular boat.

    I'm happy to hear users are pushing back against Edge bloat. I do not believe it will change a thing.

    The only way Microsoft will listen is if users stop using Edge - an activity Microsoft is actively working to make as difficult as possible in Windows 11 - a change in the law, or a court decision they lose and then lose on appeal. If you use Windows 11, you will do it Microsofts way and you will like it - whether you want to or not.

    The sad thing? Edge was a decent browser.

  13. Saarek

    Thank God for Safari on the Mac. Super fast and no bloat/adware.

  14. Donte

    On the Mac side it seems like there are weekly updates.

    • dftf

      Are the updates on macOS done from inside the browser (via the Settings ... "About Microsoft Edge" page) or is there some-sort of "Microsoft Update" app they download through, similar to Office?

  15. jecouch66

    They have also removed the flags option to turn off the tab hover cards. If anyone knows how to do this now please reply and let me know.

  16. christianwilson

    The skiing game reminds me of the skiing game that came bundled with Packard Bell computers in the 90s.

    I loved Edge for a while, but like a lot of Microsoft products, it's getting bloated with features and complexity, most of which I don't need or want. I have moved away from it on everything except my home laptop.

    • wright_is

      Or Horace goes skiing on the ZX Spectrum.

    • hrlngrv

      Perhaps there's enough observations by now to make a conjecture: everything MSFT touches MSFT bloats.

      That is, MSFT is incapable of pursuing any possible new revenue stream no matter what such pursuits may do to customer good will. Customer good will may require nuance. I have little doubt MSFT's enterprise customers have group policy settings which would inhibit BNPL, Skiing and most other excreta MSFT adds to Edge, so those customers just need to keep their group policy updated. Nonenterprise users using Pro should be able to find out about those group policy settings quick enough. It's just the unwashed masses using the cheaper Home variant who need to reconcile themselves to the latest form of the MSFT Tax who face the costs of MSFT's corporate imperative for as much revenue as possible.

  17. stephencwll

    It'll never stop ... until they release "Edge Lite" which will be super-efficient and lightweight for about a year until they also start bloating that out, leading to them releasing "Edge Light" - a lighter (sic) version of the Edge Lite browser (yes, similar-sounding name deliberate) which will then have a version optimised for Windows 10 and Windows 11 but have a similar name such as Edge Light 10 and Edge Light 11 but also have different version numbers like Edge Light 10 v11.2 and Edge Light 11 v10.1 to really help us all understand which OS it's on and its version number ...

    • dftf

      Keep-dreaming if you think they'll release a stripped-down version of Edge -- it's not like they've released such a version of Windows 11 for Legacy PCs, is it? And there's no precedent from any-other browser-maker: even Firefox ESR is just "frozen" for a set time. The next ESR then picks-up all the features that the mainstream-releases got during the same period.

      The only example I can think of is "Opera Mini", where the websites are rendered on a remote-server. And even that has little-use thesedays, given how powerful even cheap smartphones are now...

  18. dftf

    Bloatware in Edge?

    Are you telling-me people don't use features like "Collections", "Edge Bar", "Maths Solver", "Name window", "pay-by-instalments", "Search Bing in Sidebar", "Shopping in Edge", "Show Suggestions from Pinterest" and "Taskbar Pinning Wizard" on a daily-basis? ;)

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