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article imageVivaldi calls on Microsoft to 'do the right thing' about Edge

By James Walker     Jan 25, 2017 in Technology
The creators of Vivaldi, the new browser that's a spiritual successor to Opera, have called on Microsoft to "do the right thing" over its aggressive promotion of Windows 10's Edge. The company's CEO said it's too complicated to change the default browser.
Vivaldi CEO Jon von Tetzchner expressed his frustration at Microsoft's behaviour in a blog post this week. He said his "patience has run out" with the tactics Microsoft is using to convince customers to use Edge
Tetzchner singled out Windows 10's new default browser nags as an anti-competitive move that works against the user. He explained how a 72-year-old friend was left unable to revert her default browser to her preferences after installing Windows 10. Microsoft has implemented several confusing rules that serve to keep Edge as the default even if users try to change it.
Edge even sets itself back as the default each time a new browser is installed. Even though the user is obviously expressing their preference, Microsoft still attempts to force Edge onto them. If the default browser is successfully changed, Microsoft has another go at convincing users to try Edge with every Windows 10 feature update. Installing new major versions resets the default browser setting.
Vivaldi accused Microsoft of using underhand tactics to attempt to boost Edge's market share. The browser is still performing poorly over 18 months after launch and usage is declining. People who originally tried it out appear to be moving away to rival choices, despite Microsoft's persistence.
Tetzchner called on Microsoft to "do the right thing" and realise its responsibilities to users. In a message also aimed at the wider technology industry, Tetzchner said the user's right to specify their preferences should always be respected by software products.
"Our goal as technology companies should be to provide great software to our users. At the same time, we should accept that some users prefer software created by other companies," he said. "It is our responsibility to be fair to the users, and this is what should drive the technology industry forward. Stripping users of their ability to choose or forcefully limiting their options stalls progress. Focusing on building great products is what should drive us to excel."
This is far from the first time complaints have been directed at Microsoft's abuse of its own default browser system in Windows 10. The complaints first began with the operating system's launch in 2015 when Microsoft unexpectedly changed users' default browser settings to prioritise Edge.
Microsoft has faced similar claims of being anti-competitive in its default browser settings before. Between 2010 and 2014, the company was forced to allow all new Windows users in the EU to explicitly select their preferred browser. The Browser Choice dialog was created after the EU found Microsoft had used its monopoly of the operating system market with Windows to promote Internet Explorer.
The company now appears to be pursuing the same tactics again with Windows 10 and Edge. It's also being criticised for its promotion of other software services, including Windows Defender. Rival antivirus provider Kaspersky Labs recently filed an official complaint against Microsoft, alleging the company is sabotaging third-party security software to increase Defender's users.
With customers and industry rivals increasingly frustrated at Microsoft's actions, the company could be forced to back down. There's currently no indication that Edge will be decoupled from Windows 10 any time soon though, leaving users to battle their way to expressing their browser preferences. Vivaldi warned Microsoft to "accept user choice and compete on the merits," a path the company still seems reluctant to pursue.
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