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Microsoft Edge users blindsided by Google promos for 'more secure' Chrome

Microsoft Edge browser logo
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Next time you visit the Chrome Web Store on Microsoft's newly-updated Chromium Edge browser, you might be met with a concerning warning.

Those who have recently downloaded extensions on the new Edge from Google's store — the place where you go for extensions on all Chromium-derived browsers — have run into a cryptic alert recommending they switch to Chrome "to use extensions securely." The message was discovered by the blog Windows Latest.

When Microsoft switched its Edge browser to Google's Chromium platform earlier this year, it was supposed to be a major boon for compatibility and extension support.

The original iteration of Edge, released five years ago, was based on a then-totally new engine that never rose to the level of ubiquity of Google's, and so its performance suffered on many websites. The new Chromium-based Edge has solved that problem overnight, and it's only getting faster. However, it seems Google isn't thrilled about that.

Interestingly, Windows Latest points out that other Chromium browsers, such as Brave and Opera, don't present these same errors. That indicates that Google is targeting Edge specifically, which is pretty bold considering there's no evidence to suggest Edge is appreciably less secure than any of its Chromium-based brethren. In fact, the work Microsoft's done to integrate Edge within Windows 10's security suite means it's probably one of the safest browsers out there for the operating system.

The warning Edge users get when they try to install extensions from the Chrome Web Store.

The warning Edge users get when they go to install extensions from Google's Chrome Web Store. (Image credit: Windows Latest)

Google appears to be blacklisting Edge by singling out its user agent string — the part of an HTTP header that contains information that identifies the particular browser someone is using — according to Windows Latest. Many sites leverage user agent strings to lock out visitors depending on their software.

It's a bit of an underhanded move from the search and web giant, given that last April, Google actively dampened concerns that it would block its services from Chromium Edge users, after Hangouts Meet was found to be non-functional in the beta version of Microsoft's browser.

Google says that it doesn't blacklist browsers, but rather whitelists them. Nevertheless, it seems to be taking deliberate steps against Edge specifically now, signaling a change in attitude. In a sense, it's almost ironic: Microsoft has exercised a litany of tactics over the years to get Windows users to stay on Edge or Internet Explorer, rather than switching to Chrome or Firefox. We've reached out to Google for a response and will update this story as soon as we know more.