To the click-bait part of the tech blogosphere, Microsoft is “aggressively pushing” its new web browser, Edge, when users search for alternative browsers (Chrome, Firefox, whatever) using its Bing search engine. Two things. This behavior is not aggressive in the slightest. And Microsoft isn’t doing anything wrong.
According to what I think is the original report about this topic—the progeny are legion, this post included—Microsoft is “using a new tactic” by displaying “a serious-looking message at the top of the search results” when a user searches Bing for third-party web browsers like Chrome or Firefox.
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This is what serious looks like. (Using their shot.) That word “recommends” is so steeped in warning.
But the funny bit here—aside from the fact that is message does not in fact seem all that serious—is that when you close Edge and perform the same search(es) again, that message no longer appears. Presumably, Microsoft understands that you already got the message. Which of course undercuts the “aggressively pushing” claim made elsewhere.
Back when Microsoft was the belligerent, recalcitrant monopolist that lorded over the personal computing industry, this kind of behavior would have been quickly condemned in all quarters, not just at headline-churning tech blogs. But Microsoft is not that company any more. Yes, Microsoft dominates the PC market, and office productivity, but companies like Apple and Google long ago destroyed Microsoft’s monopoly status by creating mobile platforms—Android, iOS—that are collectively far more dominant that Windows. Point being, Microsoft can do this all it wants.
But here’s the thing. When you think back to the original antitrust claims about Microsoft, the central argument boiled down to product tying, that Microsoft was using its dominant Windows OS to shovel crap like Internet Explorer, MSN Messenger, and Windows Media Player down users’ unsuspecting throats. That behavior is fine when you’re not a monopoly, but is illegal—in the US, EU and elsewhere—when you are.
Here, Microsoft is not using a dominant product to push you on a product you don’t want. In fact, it’s not even using Windows. It’s using Bing, which is a distant number two in the search market, and then only when you add in the Bing-generated results served through Yahoo. Put simply, Microsoft is using a service few people use (Bing) to push a web browser few people want (Edge).
Boo-hoo. What a story.
And if you do want to use another web browser, and not Edge, in Windows 10, go nuts. Just be sure to read my guide Windows 10 Tip: Configure Default Apps to correctly configure Chrome, Firefox, or whatever browser you prefer.