Hi Microsoft, please stop using 'harmful designs' and deceptive tactics to give Edge the competitive advantage over other browsers on Windows, says Mozilla

Mozilla Firefox on Windows
(Image credit: Future)

What you need to know

  • New research commissioned by Mozilla reveals the Microsoft uses harmful designs and deceptive tactics to push its Edge browser to Windows users.
  • The report details that the tech giant uses misleading UIs and ads, and more to prevent users from using other browsers aside from Microsoft Edge as default on Windows.
  • Mozilla points out that this places other browsers like Google Chrome and Firefox at a disadvantage, and calls on regulators to look into the matter.

Even in 2024, browser wars continue to be a thing. Users have varied interests and wants regarding the browser they use on their devices. Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge are arguably the most popular browsers among users, but is it by choice or design?

The folks at Mozilla have openly indicated that it's the latter, further throwing blame at Microsoft. The company pointed out that users don't have free will to use any browser as their default on Windows devices

Mozilla tasked Harry Brignull and Cennydd Bowles, alongside researchers and experts, to investigate the matter. As it turns out, Microsoft might be playing a foul game by preventing freedom of choice when selecting default browsers on Windows (via TechRadar). 

In the report "Over the Edge: The Use of Design Tactics to Undermine Browser Choice," the researchers point out how Microsoft has placed its Edge browser on a pedestal across its operating system, leaving its competitors at a disadvantage. 

The report also outlines the deceptive ploys the tech giant leverages to affirm its position in the race for browser dominance, including misleading UIs and ads, alarming notifications that are worded and presented as system warnings, and more.

Microsoft, Google, and Apple were some companies listed as gatekeepers by the EU Commission last year. Microsoft made the list because of its Windows OS and LinkedIn, and Google for its Chrome browser and search engine. The Commission gave the gatekeepers six months to comply with the DMA; failure would attract hefty fines and penalties. One of the requirements under the DMA tasks the companies listed to make their services interoperable.

Interestingly, Microsoft's Bing was initially listed as a gatekeeper service, but the company argued that the search engine hadn't hit the threshold to fall under this category. The Commission investigated the matter and recently concluded that Bing and Edge aren't dominant enough in digital markets, exempting them from DMA regulation. 

Mozilla hoped that the DMA regulation on Microsoft Edge would give Firefox some breathing space and the opportunity to compete on an even playing field. But as it happens, that ship has seemingly sailed off with its competitive advantage. Microsoft's CEO, Satya Nadella, shares the same sentiments regarding search, adding that Google doesn't play fair with Bing

It's the same script for Microsoft, just a different play

Microsoft Edge Sidebar on Windows 11 desktop

(Image credit: Future)

This isn't the first time we've learned about Microsoft pushing its browser and search engine down users' throats. Late last year, some users trying to download Google Chrome while using Microsoft Edge were slapped with a survey asking them to detail why they wanted to try another browser.

How can we forget when Microsoft deliberately placed ads on Google Chrome's download page, perhaps to prevent users from transitioning? The fact that Windows 11 and 10 come with Microsoft Edge preinstalled doesn't improve the situation.

Mozilla further makes its case in the in-depth report and pleads with regulators to look into the matter to promote healthy competition.

Kevin Okemwa

Kevin Okemwa is a seasoned tech journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya with lots of experience covering the latest trends and developments in the industry. With a passion for innovation and a keen eye for detail, he has written for leading publications such as OnMSFT, MakeUseOf, and Windows Report, providing insightful analysis and breaking news on everything revolving around the Microsoft ecosystem. While AFK and not busy following the ever-emerging trends in tech, you can find him exploring the world or listening to music.

  • ChipBoundary
    Okay, so Mozilla's claim is that....users are so brain dead, they can't figure out how to install other browsers and that Microsoft suggesting Edge to its users, somehow prevents them from doing so?

    No, the reason Chrome, Mozilla, and other browsers aren't being used and are losing market share is because they are straight up awful. I jumped ship from Chrome years ago, to the non-chromium Edge, because of how terrible it had gotten and it has only gotten worse.

    Firefox has been terrible for even longer, literally well over a decade. I even tried a fork of it called Waterfox, and while slightly better, it still suffered a lot of issues. Nobody uses Firefox because it isn't a viable alternative to anything.

    I've worked in IT for two decades and in terms of speed, resource usage, security, and privacy there is nothing that touches Chromium Edge. It is factual and has been proven by independent analysts. The settings can be a bit murky and fiddly but once you tweak everything just right, it is insanely good.

    Here's a suggestion Mozilla...make a good product and you will see your market share rise. It's been a long time for you but, if buckle you down, you might just pull it off.
  • Arun Topez
    ChipBoundary said:
    Okay, so Mozilla's claim is that....users are so brain dead, they can't figure out how to install other browsers and that Microsoft suggesting Edge to its users, somehow prevents them from doing so?
    It's not just that. I mean if you read the report they point out the same things people here complain about... such as injecting Edge ads on to competitor's download pages where there isn't supposed to be an ad, and if there was they didn't pay for that ad. That's something scammers do. Microsoft reeks of desperation in all their Edge and AI forcing on users lately. The browser/product should speak for itself, which as you mentioned it does, if it's flopping from a userbase standpoint, they need to do a better job at marketing it to users on proper marketing channels instead of pushing it on users in places they shouldn't even be doing it, including on competitors websites and search results, and using cheap design tactics to frequently sync data over from those browsers into Edge, and interrupting productivity workflows pushing it. They need to invest in proper consumer marketing and community like the competitors do instead of using scammer tactics.