This undermines Microsoft’s argument that automatic updates are critical
If I told you that my entire computer screen was just taken up by a new application that I had never installed or requested – it magically appeared on my desktop, on my taskbar and anticipated the launch of my next website – you would probably say to run an antivirus and stay away from obscure websites, wouldn’t you?
But the incredibly intrusive application I’m talking about is not ransomware. It is Microsoft’s new Chromium Edge browser, which the company is now feeding users through an automatic update to Windows.
Seriously, when I restarted my Windows 10 desktop this week, an application I never asked for:
- Immediately launched itself
- Tried to convince me to migrate away from Chrome, giving me no discernible way to click away or say no
- Pinned itself to my desktop and taskbar
- Ignored my previous browser preference by asking me — the next time I launched a website — whether I was sure I wanted to use Chrome instead of Microsoft’s oh-so-humble recommendation.
A Windows 10 update forces a full screen @MicrosoftEdge window, which cannot be closed from the taskbar, or CTRL W, or even ALT F4. You must press “get started,” then the X, and even then it pops up a welcome screen. And pins itself to the taskbar. pic.twitter.com/mEhEbqpIc7— Taran Quarantino (@TaranVH) July 2, 2020
Did I mention that after this update, you can no longer uninstall Edge?
All of this made me think immediately: what would the antitrust agents of the 1990s, who punished Microsoft for adding Internet Explorer to Windows, think about this modern abuse of the Microsoft platform?
*wakes up and discovers they not only decided to install Edge on my computer without my consent but also pinned it to my taskbar* …no. NO— ᴍeadow w f (@gothfundme) June 29, 2020
“We care about your privacy” Microsoft Edge says as it quietly installs on my computer, opens up in the morning, and once more reminds me that Windows 7 sucks and plz update to the other O/S.
Never change, Microsoft.— I’m To Blame (@im2blame4) June 30, 2020
But mostly, I am surprised that Microsoft throws itself at its feet by leaning so low, using tactics that I have only seen with adware, spyware and ransomware vendors. I installed this copy of Windows with a disc I bought, by the way. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I like to think that I still own my work area and decide what to put there.
This is especially true for owners of Windows 7 and Windows 8, I imagine, who are also receiving unwanted gift copies of the new Edge now:
If windows 7 isn’t supported then why did my Work machine automatically install Microsoft EDGE last night :|— DJ_Uchuu – Silicon Dreams Comin’ 3rd July (@DjUchuu) June 30, 2020
And I’m not surprised that some angry Windows users are already opposing the fact that this was part of a forced Windows update, which Microsoft has already had a hard time justifying without also hacking into people’s desktops. It will be more difficult to adopt the argument that forced updates are necessary for security when they perform dual tasks as an intrusive marketing tool.
My PC just force shutdown to install Microsoft edge. Losing at least an hour of drawing. Thank you @Microsoft
No one is gonna use you’re shitty excuse for a browser, no matter how much you force it.— richie (@paperichie) June 30, 2020
Windows apparently did an update in the middle of the night and now my fucking document with the notes for Episode 56 are all gone!
It’s all good though, I got Microsoft Edge out of the deal so you know, that’s good and something I asked for -_-
We’ll have it up soon xo— Think of the Children (@totccast) June 30, 2020
#Windows10 update. Install the update and get MS edge as default browser and propaganda/advert distributer.. And you can’t remove it. Dont be fooled. Skip the update. @Microsoft— Paul Laris (@Paul_Laris) June 30, 2020
Hell, we can’t even get Americans to wear life-saving masks in public now.
By the way, Microsoft is not trying to hide most of this: it presents the so-called “First execution experience” in this changelog. So I thought I would see if the company could say more. Here is a list of questions I sent to Microsoft, which the company refused to answer substantively in the registry or in the background:
- What was the goal and reasoning here?
- Why does Microsoft feel that this is appropriate?
- Was it a success, and if so, by what metric?
- What does Microsoft’s telemetry show users are doing in response to being confronted with Edge pins, desktop icons, auto-launch, and reset default apps?
- Would Microsoft do this again?
- Will Microsoft stop this now, and/or change anything about this update?
- What is Microsoft’s philosophy on dark pattern software design?
The only justifications that the company could provide me are that, technically, the new Edge is replacing the old Edge that already comes with Windows 10; Microsoft wants you to use the best and most secure version of your browser; and you can still say no – although in this case, a “no” involves forcefully closing the Edge, reaffirming the default browser option and having to spend a minute deleting unwanted junk on the desktop.
Here’s one more question: Microsoft, do you think this behavior makes Windows users really want to try Edge?
Because, if I’m being honest, after the initial shock is over, I found the Edge easy to ignore. The experience left only a bad taste in my mouth.
Before, I was really interested in this new version of Edge based on Chromium! I was planning to take a look. I’ve been playing with Firefox and Opera for weeks, considering a possible migration away from Chrome.
Now, as a user, not a journalist, I can’t help but feel that I should ignore Edge on principle. And if there is a sizeable fraction of users who feel the same way, someone within Microsoft is struggling right now.