With Microsoft Edge, Microsoft was supposedly heading in a fresh new direction without the gigantic baggage that Internet Explorer brings with it, both technically and legally. After a brief attempt at carving its own path, Microsoft decided to cut its losses and build upon the same Chromium base used by Google Chrome. Now that Microsoft Edge is finally out of its testing phase, however, it seems that Microsoft may have fallen back to its old habits and is giving non-Edge users no small amount of headache and stress over its installation practices.
Microsoft announced last month that the latest Windows 10 updates will automatically install its Edge browser if it hasn’t been installed separately before. What Microsoft didn’t say, however, is that the installation process would practically involve disregarding whatever default browser preferences users had already set. It was, in users’ minds, pretty much like Microsoft shoving Edge down their throats.
Once installed, Edge would pop up a full-screen setup wizard that you could not easily dismiss without clicking “Get Started”, regardless if they have set Chrome, Firefox, or any other browser as their default. It would ask if you want to import your browser data from Firefox or Chrome but users have also reported that Edge already imports the data before it even asks and just deletes that imported data if you say no. And even if you ended the setup process, it will still pin the Edge icon to your taskbar and ask you if you really don’t want to use Edge the next time you open a website.
This kind of behavior is what some would expect from spyware, nagware, and the old Microsoft. Given the legal and financial loss it suffered in Europe over its mere bundling of Internet Explorer and Windows, one would presume it would be more careful about strategies like this. Then again, it took years for that verdict to be made it Microsoft will have plenty of time to get away with what it can should another case be filed against it.
It’s definitely an unfortunate and counterproductive way to introduce what may actually be a decent web browser. To its credit, Microsoft has also been contributing its changes to Chromium to benefit Chrome, Opera, and all other browsers using that open source engine. Unfortunately, its behavior may be proof that the old Microsoft hasn’t really gone away completely.