Windows derails Chrome, Firefox installation, promotes Microsoft Edge instead
Maybe this change to the test version of Windows 10 will improve the 2 percent market share for Microsoft's newer browser.
Stephen Shanklandprincipal writer
Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and writes about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
Expertiseprocessors, semiconductors, web browsers, quantum computing, supercomputers, AI, 3D printing, drones, computer science, physics, programming, materials science, USB, UWB, Android, digital photography, scienceCredentials
I've been covering the technology industry for 24 years and was a science writer for five years before that. I've got deep expertise in microprocessors, digital photography, computer hardware and software, internet standards, web technology, and other dee
Microsoft is trying a new tactic to get people to use its Edge browser: a warning dialog box that interrupts the installation of other browsers like Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome.
"You already have
-- the safer, faster browser for
," a dialog box reads after you launch an installer for another browser. The process, which appears only in Microsoft's "fast ring" test version of upcoming Windows 10 versions, presents two options: "Open Microsoft Edge" -- the default -- and "Install anyway." The dialog box has a link to the settings tool in Windows if you want to suppress the warning in the future, but it's not immediately clear how to change the behavior.
"We're currently testing this functionality with insiders only," Microsoft said in a statement, referring to its Windows test program. "The Windows Insider Program enables Microsoft to test different features, functionality and garner feedback before rolling out broadly. Customers remain in control and can choose the browser of their choice."
Other browser makers object
Opera didn't like the move. "We believe in fair play," the company said in a statement. "Any measure by operating system manufacturers that limits the users' right to choose the best browser for their needs is, of course, not to our liking."
And Vivaldi, another browser rival affected by the Microsoft move, raised competitive issues that have dogged Microsoft's browser push in the past.
"This is sadly another example of Microsoft using their monopoly position. Users should not be stripped of their ability to choose the browser they want," said Vivaldi Chief Executive Jon von Tetzchner, who also competed against Microsoft's IE as the former leader of Opera. "Microsoft should focus on building great products instead and win users."
Google didn't respond to a request for comment.
Strong-arm tactics for browser promotion
Microsoft is hardly alone in strong-arming people to use its browser. Google promotes its Chrome browser with pop-ups on its search, Gmail and Google Docs pages. And though Apple permits browser apps other than its own Safari on iPhones and iPads, those browsers must use Safari's engine to actually display websites.
Microsoft is struggling to reclaim even a shadow of the dominance it once held with its
browser. Google's Chrome has steadily eaten away at IE's share of usage for years, according to analytics firm StatCounter, and Microsoft's Edge hasn't even outpaced IE despite its more modern design.
Edge accounts for 2 percent of usage today compared with 3 percent for IE and 60 percent for Chrome, but its usage share has actually dropped a fraction of a percentage point compared with a year ago, according to StatCounter.
Hoffman said he freshly reinstalled Windows about a month ago and didn't see the message when he installed the Opera browser. Now things have changed.
"It was during the launching of the Firefox installation program that I received the pop-up," he said. "Ironically it was a suggestion from the Twitterverse that I install Firefox as a remedy to the increasing number of sites that seek to install desktop notifications."
First published Sept. 12, 9:56 a.m. PT. Update 10:34 a.m. PT: Adds Microsoft comment. Update 1:04 p.m. PT: Adds comment from Mozilla and Vivaldi. Update, Sept. 13 at 7:05 a.m. PT: Adds comment from Opera.