Microsoft broke a Chrome feature to promote its Edge browser

Microsoft broke a Chrome feature to promote its Edge browser

Microsoft released a Windows update that broke a Chrome feature, making it harder to change your default browser and harassing Chrome users with pop-ups, Gizmodo has learned.

An April Windows update brought a new button in Chrome — the world’s most popular browser — that allowed you to change your default browser with a single click, but the worst was reserved for users of the enterprise version of Windows. For weeks, every time a corporate user opened Chrome, the Windows default settings page popped up. There was no way to stop it unless you uninstalled the OS update. It forced Google to disable the setting, which had made Chrome more convenient.

This insignificant chapter in the browser wars began in July 2022, when Google quietly introduced a new button in Chrome for Windows. It appears at the top of the screen and allows you to change your default browser with one click without going into your system settings. It worked wonderfully for eight months. Then, in April, Microsoft released the Windows update KB5025221and it got interesting.

“Every time I open Chrome, it opens the default Windows app settings. I’ve tried many ways to solve this problem without success,” said an IT admin on a Microsoft forum. A Reddit user noticed that the settings page also popped up every time you clicked a link, but only if Chrome was your default browser. “It doesn’t happen if we change the default browser on Edge,” said the user. Others carried on similar complaints Google Support Forums, some say whole organizations have had the problem. Users quickly realized that the culprit was the operating system To update.

For people with the regular consumer version of Windows, it wasn’t quite as bad; The one-click Set as Default button just stopped working. Gizmodo was able to replicate the issue. In fact, we were able to work around the problem simply by changing the Chrome app name on a Windows desktop. It seems Microsoft has thrown up the roadblock specifically for Chrome, its Edge browser’s main competitor.

Microsoft didn’t answer questions on the matter, but shared a published link before messing up Chrome. “More information can be found here blog entry about Microsoft’s approach to pinning apps and app defaults in Windows. Microsoft has nothing further to share,” said Miranda Davis, a Microsoft spokeswoman. The post details the company’s “longstanding approach to putting people in control of their Windows PC experience.”

Mozilla’s Firefox has its own default one-click button, which worked flawlessly throughout the ordeal. But according to Steve Teixeira, Mozilla’s chief product officer, this isn’t Microsoft’s first anti-competitive move in recent years.

“When using Windows machines, Firefox users routinely encounter these types of obstacles, e.g. “By overriding their choice of default browser or pop-ups and misleading warnings trying to convince them that Edge is somehow safer,” Teixeira said. “It’s high time for Microsoft to respect people’s preferences and allow them to use any browser without affecting their choices.”

In response, Google had to disable its one-click default button; the problem stopped after it did. In other words, Microsoft seems to have gone out of their way to break a Chrome feature that was making life easier for users. Google confirmed the details of this story but declined to comment further.

This is part of a pattern of behavior by Microsoft that is waging war on non-Windows web browsers and the people who use them. Chrome is, I must reiterate, the world’s preferred internet browser with a reported 66% market share. Microsoft launched earlier this year Insert full-size ads in the search results when you’ve looked at Google Chrome and say, “There’s no need to change your default browser.” Microsoft went as far as pasting ads for Edge on the Chrome download site itself, stating, “Microsoft uses Edge same technology as Chrome, with the added confidence of Microsoft.” There was other bizarre news also to potential Chrome users, with some suggesting that Chrome is worse for online shopping, or calling Google’s browser “so 2008”.

When Microsoft shipped Windows 11 in 2021, it was included several dark patterns This ignored user choices and made it harder to change the default settings. Windows users have had to change the default web browser for almost a dozen different types of web links: HTM, HTML, PDF, SHTML, SVG, WEBP, XHT, XHTML, FTP, HTTP, and HTTPS (like someone changing a different browser for HTTP and HTTPS pages). There was no way to change all the defaults at once, you had to do it manually.

Windows 11 also gave you a single chance to change your default settings when you first opened a new web browser. You would see a popup, but it didn’t really work unless you checked a little box that said “Always use this app”. If you missed it, you would never see the popup again.

It seemed like things were getting better. Months after the release of Windows 11, Microsoft gave in and added a setting that opened things up a bit, allowing you to change your default browser all at once instead of going through 11 annoying drop-down menus.

History buffs will note that this sounds a lot like the monopoly behavior that Microsoft once took to court. In the 1990s, the US Department of Justice sued the company for its efforts to stop competition for Internet Explorer, the web browser Microsoft finally withdrew last year.

In the 20 years since, the Justice Department has largely stayed out of technology competition issues. But recently, the DOJ signaled a renewed interest in digital monopolies Antitrust proceedings against Google. Microsoft isn’t the only game in town anymore, which could make it a less attractive target for regulators, though it’s still worth $2.2 trillion. But here we are with more Windows browser shenanigans.

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