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Microsoft caught recommending Edge when downloading Chrome

Windows Central reports on the find made by Venture Beat yesterday. After completing an installation of Windows 10 or turning a new computer on for the first time, many users are likely to head straight to the download sites for popular web browsers Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.
This is now probably going to be done through Microsoft’s Edge, the new browser bundled with Windows 10. Microsoft would prefer it if users gave its own browser a chance before jumping straight back to its rivals, evidently trying to avoid the “only use Internet Explorer to download Google Chrome” joke that has been attached to Edge’s predecessor for years.
With this in mind, Microsoft has added a few prompts to users into its Bing search results pages for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. Typing “chrome” or “firefox” directly into the Edge address bar will provide a Bing search to the relevant download pages but also a message from Microsoft, attempting to convince users to try out Edge for a little longer before reverting to their old favourite.
The banner says “Microsoft recommends Microsoft Edge for Windows 10.” A button labelled “Learn why” redirects to a page that showcases some of the new web browser’s features. The message only displays the first time that Chrome or Firefox is searched for. Currently, it seems to be confined to the U.S.
A Microsoft spokesperson told Venture Beat that the banner is designed “to provide people with quick, easy information that can help them get to know these experiences better,” referencing the new features of Microsoft Edge. These include direct webpage annotation abilities and the integration of Cortana, providing instant actionable information from the address bar.
The wording of the message seems quite persuasive though. To some users, the specific mention of Windows 10 could imply that Chrome or Firefox do not run as well on the more modern operating system, potentially enough to trigger a conversion to Edge.
Mozilla CEO Chris Beard wrote a letter to Microsoft after the launch of Windows 10 in which he accuses the company of making it harder to change the default web browser, removing the principles of user choice and control. Mozilla has called for Microsoft to make it clearer to users that alternative browsers are available. “Recommending” Edge to new users looking for those browsers may not be seen as particularly transparent.
In 2010, Microsoft was forced to ask all of its European users which web browser they wanted after the European Commission accused the company of abusing its market position. The EC argued that Microsoft was stifling competition amongst browsers by bundling Internet Explorer with Windows.
Banner notifications recommending Edge aren’t likely to lead to another lawsuit just yet. Edge still has a very small market share and Microsoft’s dominance of the browser market has quickly declined in recent years, primarily because of the rise of Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft’s failure to react with new, innovative versions of Internet Explorer.
Although some see it as more anti-competitive action by Microsoft, others have interpreted it as desperation, showing that the company needs to reclaim the users it has lost since Internet Explorer’s peak. That time is now long in the past.

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