colourful words and phrases

techy tangents and general life chatter from a tired sysadmin

Microsoft needs to be taken down a peg or two thousand

Windows Software Rant

Remember when you installed Windows 7 and you saw this shit?

Image attribution: WindowsCentral

When the EU stopped looking at Microsoft, they removed it. "Microsoft finally ditches the Browser Choice menu for Windows in Europe" was the headline on WindowsCentral.

Stepping back, the Browser Choice popup was specifically part of the agreement Microsoft reached (and then broke) with the EU to actively give users the choice of what browser to use. Microsoft also, finally, allowed people to uninstall Internet Explorer around this time too (although because modern internet search is terrible, it's impossible to find articles giving an exact date or inciting reason, so I can only go off of my own memories of "The EU did this").

Remember all that? So anyway, it's 2023 and Microsoft won't let you uninstall its browser and actively hounds you to use it. Microsoft has made it harder for other browsers to automatically set themselves as your default browser (the double edged sword - this does have legitimate value for security, but is very much beneficial to Microsoft more than anyone else). If you do try to use a different browser, you get a pop-up on the download page for the browser you're trying to download, telling you to use Edge.

Even going into the Settings app to change unrelated settings, Microsoft tries to convince you that your choices are wrong, that your system security is at risk because you're not using their browser, that you've done something and Windows needs to fix it.

From the point at which your default browser changes to not be Edge, this constant reminder that Microsoft disagrees with you is always present in the Settings app.

You have no way to turn this off, other than to click it and let Windows set your default browser to Edge, pin Edge to the taskbar, put a shortcut to it on your desktop, and make Bing your default search engine.

If you open the start menu and you type in the name of an application, not realising it isn't installed, sometimes the start menu will suggest the website of that application instead. Helpful! Legitimately! However, if you hit enter, the website will be opened in Edge instead of your default browser, because the start menu uses Bing search.

Image attribution: Neowin

I got a new laptop last week, the Framework 13 (you can read my thoughts about it on Cohost), and I went through a whole thing of installing Windows 10 because 11 is just too user-hostile for my liking (I mean, come on, you can't even move the taskbar any more). At some point I wanted to see my desktop wallpaper, I minimised all my windows and saw this piece of shit on the desktop. Even choosing to simply ignore Edge, it sits on the desktop and demands you use it. My existing Windows machines seem to have escaped this atrocity on the desktop (for now), but it seems like a new installation will receive the Mark of the Beast.

Microsoft somewhat recently made waves with its launch of "Bing Chat"/"The New Bing", which is Microsoft Bing Search but with ChatGPT, and you can't even use it unless you're using Microsoft Edge (or a browser which pretends to be Edge in order to specifically circumvent the requirement that you use Edge).

Even if you acquiesce and use Microsoft Edge, the aggression and hostility does not stop. There's a Bing button at the top-right corner of every Edge window, which was completely impossible to remove for a while (I believe there's a way to remove it now, but because I stopped using Edge, I don't want to check myself. It was not possible at all to remove it when I last used Edge).

Let's not mince words here; if Microsoft were being this aggressive and hostile to other browsers during the EU antitrust case, Steve Ballmer would have extremely been publicly executed. Yet in 2023, there aren't even any open antitrust cases against Microsoft in relation to its monopolistic practices on Windows?

Yes, I know Google made a whole thing where ChromeOS is a lightweight Linux distribution and everything's supposed to run inside Chrome, there's no disagreement that that's also shit, but ChromeOS has nowhere near the market share and general-purpose use that Windows does. ChromeOS bad, Microsoft Edge somehow worse.