Facepalm: Microsoft has been trying everything to convince Windows users to switch from its rival browser Chrome to Edge. It has tried various tactics, like adding multiple features and making default browser settings obtuse. However, its latest stunt might reach a new level of desperation.
Neowin reports that non-stable versions of Microsoft Edge temporarily displayed full-sized banner ads on the Chrome website. The move is the latest of many attempts to get Windows users to stick with Edge as their primary browser.
Microsoft knows that when many users first launch Edge after installing Windows, they go straight to the Chrome website to download Google's browser. A lawyer for Google's parent company, Alphabet, submitted evidence proving this in 2021. What better place to advertise Edge?
Two ads appeared when users tried to download Chrome. First, a small prompt emerged upon loading the Chrome page, then a full-length banner once the download started. Both informed users that Edge runs on the same engine as Chrome - Chromium - but with the "added trust of Microsoft," possibly a jab at Google's reputation for collecting and selling users' information.
According to Neowin, Microsoft removed the ads from the Canary, Dev, and stable versions of Edge, but it still appears in the beta build. When I loaded the Chrome download page on stable, the small pop-up still appeared with a button to switch the default browser to Edge.
Such efforts haven't pushed Microsoft's browser anywhere close to Google's market share. According to Statcounter's January 2023 report, 66 percent of desktop users still prefer Chrome, with Edge as a distant second at 11 percent. Those numbers have barely budged over the last year.
Redmond has added various features to its browser to make it more appealing, including Adobe's Acrobat PDF reader, disk cache compression, a free Cloudflare-based VPN, and more. However, Microsoft's best chance to change the paradigm might be in the emerging AI-powered search engine and chatbot market.
Since the recent explosion in ChatGPT's popularity, Microsoft, Google, and others have raced to release chatbots, search engines, and other tools using generative text AI. Microsoft has taken the opportunity to embed the technology in new versions of Edge and its Bing search engine. However, as the company prepares Bing Chat for public release, initial testing has uncovered embarrassing and concerning flaws.