Microsoft tries to stop users from installing Chrome — again

Microsoft Edge Browser
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

I like Microsoft Edge; I don’t like Microsoft’s attitude toward Microsoft Edge. In case you haven’t tried Edge lately, Microsoft has made incredible strides with the browser, making it more lightweight and functional than ever. It’s odd, then, that the Windows manufacturer seems to have such a chip on its shoulder about users trying to switch to Chrome. 

Changing browsers in Windows was already a pain, and now Microsoft has made it even more difficult, with snarky little popups that actually deride your browser choice as you switch.

It’s baffling, to say the least.

Neowin reported on Microsoft’s new tactic, which is passive-aggressive, even by modern online standards. When you open Edge and try to download Chrome (as you might, for example, on a new computer), you’ll now see a variety of popups in the upper-right corner.

“Microsoft Edge runs on the same technology as Chrome, with the added trust of Microsoft,” proclaims one.

“That browser is so 2008!” exclaims another. “Do you know what’s new? Microsoft Edge.” (The “how do you do, fellow kids?” energy that this one exudes is positively stunning.)

These popups aren’t the only way Microsoft will try to stop you from switching to Chrome. Assuming you search “Chrome” or “browser” on Bing (Edge’s default search engine), you’ll see warnings at the top of the page, explaining that “You’re already browsing in Microsoft Edge,” or “There’s no need to download a new web browser.”

C'mon Microsoft, you don't need Bing to warn people away from even searching for Chrome (Image credit: Future)

I was able to replicate Neowin’s findings, so it seems like Microsoft is going all-in on the “shaming its users” strategy. It’s bold, if nothing else.

Recall, too, that Microsoft already makes it a pain to switch to Chrome after you’ve installed the program. It's even more painful knowing Chrome is bringing features to help online shoppers save money. If you try to switch your default browser to Chrome, Windows will exhort you to check out Edge first. It’s a tiresome process, particularly if you’re already well-versed in the differences between the two programs. Microsoft made it even harder to avoid the Edge browser in Windows 11, actively shutting down fan-made workarounds that let Windows 11 users select their own browser to open system-level web links, rather than forcing them to open in Edge.

What makes Microsoft’s insistence on Edge so frustrating is that the company doesn’t need to use these hard-sell tactics. Taken on its own merits, Edge is an excellent browser, and arguably better than Chrome. In our tests, Edge routinely performs better than Chrome in terms of resource management, to say nothing of speed or reliability. Microsoft is currently making streamed Xbox games look better in Edge. Now that Edge runs on Chromium, you can essentially transfer every feature you love from Chrome right over.

Granted, a lot of users are going to stick with Chrome no matter what, simply because they’ve become so familiar with it. But you know what? That’s the beauty of a Windows PC. Windows isn’t a walled garden, like macOS. It doesn’t tell you which programs to run, or how you should manage your online resources. Chrome came by its popularity honestly, and if users want to stick with it, that’s their prerogative.

Microsoft is correct that users really should give Edge a shot, and not stick with Chrome simply out of habit. But you know what they say about loving something and setting it free. If Edge is as good as Microsoft thinks it is, users need to be free to discover that for themselves.

Marshall Honorof

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.