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Microsoft intercepting Firefox, Chrome installation on Windows 10 Insider build

Accepted submission by exec at 2018-09-13 13:04:38
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Story automatically generated by StoryBot Version 0.2.2 rel Testing.
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FeedSource: [HackerNews]

Time: 2018-09-12 23:47:29 UTC

Original URL: https://www.ghacks.net/2018/09/12/microsoft-intercepting-firefox-chrome-installation-on-windows-10/ [ghacks.net] using UTF-8 encoding.

Title: Microsoft intercepting Firefox, Chrome installation on Windows 10 Insider build

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Microsoft intercepting Firefox, Chrome installation on Windows 10 Insider build

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story [ghacks.net]:

When you try to install the Firefox pr Chrome web browser on a recent Windows 10 version 1809 Insider build, you may notice that the installation gets interrupted by the operating system.

The intermediary screen that interrupts the installation states that Edge is installed on the device and that it is safer and faster than the browser that the user was about to install on the device.

Options provided are to open Microsoft Edge or install the other browser anyway. There is also an option to disable the warning type in the future but that leads to the Apps listing of the Settings application and no option to do anything about that.

While there is certainly a chance that Microsoft is just testing things in preview versions of Windows, it is equally possible that such a setting will land in the next feature update for Windows 10.

Companies like Google or Microsoft have used their market position in the past to push their own products. Google pushes Chrome on all of its properties when users use different browsers to connect to them, and Microsoft too displayed notifications [ghacks.net] on the Windows 10 platform to users who used other browsers that Edge was more secure or power friendly.

The intercepting of installers on Windows is a new low, however. A user who initiates the installation of a browser does so on purpose. The prompt that Microsoft displays claims that Edge is safer and faster, and it puts the Open Microsoft Edge button on focus and not the "install anyway" button.

It seems likely that such a prompt would result in higher than usual exits from installation if the intercepting prompt lands in stable versions of Windows.

There is also a chance that Microsoft would push its own products when users attempt to install other products: think a third-party media player, screenshot tool, image editor, or text editor.

While it seems that Microsoft plans to integrate an option to disable these "warnings", it remains to be seen how that will look like. Judging from the current implementation it will be opt-out which means that the intercepting prompts are displayed to all users by default who attempt third-party software installations.

I tried to install Chrome Stable and Firefox Stable, and both installations were intercepted by the prompt. Again, this happens only in Windows 10 version 1809 on the Insider channel. Whether the intercepting will land in the soon to be released stable version of Windows 10 version 1809, the October 2018 Update, remains to be seen.

Microsoft Edge is not doing so well despite the fact that it is the default web browser on Windows 10. Microsoft stated in 2017 that Edge [ghacks.net] usage had doubled but third-party usage tracking service still see the browser lag behind Chrome, Firefox and even Internet Explorer in usage share.

Advertising revenue is falling fast across the Internet, and independently-run sites like Ghacks are hit hardest by it. The advertising model in its current form is coming to an end, and we have to find other ways to continue operating this site.

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Lol, I noticed in a VM running the preview release whenever I go to Settings’s default applications page I’m being reminded to give Edge a try. For some reason Chromium was a bit of a jerk and set itself as the default browser.

I noticed in Windows 10 browsers generally act weird when it comes to defaults. Firefox during installation does not ask you if you want to set it as default and it automatically associates three protocols HTTP, HTTPS and FTP (I think this was the third). Chromium sometimes prompts me with a banner if I want to set it as default on the second launch. But sometimes it sets itself as default.

I noticed the Firefox issue on Windows 8.1 as well.

None of this happens on 7, btw. Nor on LTSB1607, with the exeption of Firefox assigning those three protocols, like on 8.1.

@Yuliya: I am running Win 8.1 but have not noticed any such behaviour when installing Firefox or its forks, nor when installing Chrome or its forks.

During the installation process there is an extra step on Windows 7 where you are being asked if you want to set Fx as your default browser. That step is missing on 8.1 and LTSB1607. As a consequence, Fx assigns to itself those three protocols. At least that’s the case if no other browser is present, including IE.

alert(‘xss!’)

I really hope they push this into release so MS can get sued again for their nonsense, outright shameful.

They will probably be smart enough to only do it in countries where MS owns enough politicians to negate the risk.

Chrome should be sued for their online ads and “work in chrome only” behaviour. Edge is 7% mkt share. Chrome is nearly 70%.

@Antoine

That’s a very different situation, though. I’m not sure what the case would be for a lawsuit about Chrome’s behavior. The issue with Windows is that it’s an operating system that has monopoly power. Chrome is not.

Edge is short on add-on’s and I can’t even drag a URL from another browser like FF to Edge. Then there is that dumb “set tabs aside” control that never seems to work correctly.

So mostly, I don’t use Edge and have no plans to increase my use.

This is just ridiculous.
  This kind of desperation is just absurd by now!

I bet a lot of people will switch to Edge/Explorer after this… NOT.

This nothing new.
  For years already, Microsoft has reluarly reseted the “open with ..;” default programs for videos, audio pdf, doc and other similar files to Microsoft apps, At least twice a year, during the spring and the fall updates.

First time I hear about that. Reason enough not to update at all.

Every time I updated my new Android phone, it reset my onscreen keyboard to Swiftkey.

No, I don’t want Swiftkey okay? I want a simple keyboard with the buttons where I expect them to be, that doesn’t record my inputs and sends them to god knows where!

So yeah, not just MS doing that kind of thing.

@Kawa: “not just MS doing that kind of thing.”

Except that Microsoft owns Swiftkey, so that’s still MS doing that kind of thing.

Is that any worse than running a Microsoft fixit that doesn’t fix your PC problem but gives you a ‘more options’ link that leads to advertising for a Microsoft Surface!

I wouldn’t mind if Edge was an excellent browser. But it isn’t. It’s not even in the top 10. Now imagine if Redmond would put as much work and focus on Edge like they do with shameless pop-ups like these, then MAYBE sometime within the next 10-15 years Edge could be something more than sad piece of eternal-beta software. But yeah, first they have to deal with the eternal-beta OS they sometimes casually work on in between pop-up notification development.

@Bobo

This behavior wouldn’t be acceptable even if Edge were the best browser in the history of browsers.

It reminds me when 20 years ago I thought I needed the AOL browser provided with the CD to surf on the internet.

This is desperation at its best. Microsoft has lost in three major fields, those fields being Internet applications, mobile devices, and search engines. While they have given up on the smartphones, it seems as if they are still aggressively pushing their Edge browser. However, most people own Android phones and are thus already using Chrome on the go for the most part. Those people joined the crowd that has already installed Chrome in the years prior to Android, due to Chrome offering the better user experience and an aggressive promotion on Google’s sites, most prominently Google Mail and YouTube.

A true dilemma from Microsoft’s point of view, making them desperate enough to push this nonsense on their users. Although, to be fair, Apple also prompts its users to “try out the new Safari” in macOS, albeit after another browser is installed already.

Microsoft should just accept defeat in areas where they cannot win anymore. I imagine that their defeat in the mobile sector hurts them the most, as a great many services are being run on mobile devices these days, and are thus hurting their other business units.

Microsoft, stop the annoyance that is only going to drive people away, and gain back some of your almost completely destroyed (muddled by nag- and spyware) dignity.

Actions like this will eventually cause them to lose in the biggest field … the OS.

It must be obvious to Microsoft by now that Windows 7 and 8.1 users aren’t going to switch to Windows 10 anymore. That being the case, I’m surprised they haven’t made an Edge version which will run on both those OS. Even if say only 25% of users were to install it, it would still boost their installation ratings I would have thought.

@TelV : Very true. I am still on XP x64 and 7 x64 and have no plans to go any further in the Windows world. When there is no more hardware support for 7 x64 i probably stop use computers.

What an arsehole behavior from Microsoft, always pushing for worse. And their proprietary spyware browser Edge isn’t something I would call safe.
  Google Chrome too used dishonest practices like bundling to get installed on so many desktops and then claim that it’s because users love it.
  It also reminds me of when Google webmail did pretend that Thunderbird was less safe, what a sinister joke.

Microsoft is clearly pulling a rearguard action to shore up Edge. The “safer” and “faster” claims in their installation interstitial may or may not be justified. The other browsers are safe and fast, and MS knows it.

The distinguishing features of Edge?

* Quirky (===different from Firefox and Google Chrome) window sizing and Javascript execution.

* They gratuitously changed the standardized web extension api namespace from “chrome” to “browser” on the mistaken understanding that Google Chrome === chrome.

* They still have no good open way to deploy web extensions, unlike the other browsers. Even Safari on the Mac has a way to deploy web extensions.

I wonder: why doesn’t Microsoft just give up on the browser business, licensing in Firefox to replace it? They could easily private-label it. The browser business must be a very large cost center for them, but not much of a profit center.

Maybe there is a profit center in Edge. But it sure is invisible to

“Don’t want to be warned in the future?” Microsoft should not be asking to me that way?: “if you do not want to be warned in the future open settings > Why Microsoft think it can be so familiar with me :(

Does everyone have the same problem with the “Switch to Chrome – Hide annoying ads and protect against malware on the web” prompt that you get by going to google.com in Edge?

This sort of despicable behavior shows clearly that there is a burning need to implement a global enforced law that clearly stipulates that once you bought a product version of a software program that there will be no changes on the product without your consent, except for the normal security updates (And even is this last bit there must be not so much room to maneuver. Think restrictions that company & governments applying who are not in your favor).

This isn’t that different though to Google suggesting quite heavily when you use it with other browsers that you should use Chrome…

It’s a world of difference.
  When you search google using browsers other than chrome, google ads a hint/ad to chrome on the top of the results page.

What microsoft is doing is completely different, their method puts a big ad in the center of the screen and completely disrupts the experience by requiring user input before continuing the process it was doing before!

Beyond pathetic…

Though you could say it nicely complements the cringe of getting my file associations reset by various “updates” so it can push me to open some m$-app again.

These kind of tactics worked in the past when Microsoft killed off Netscape, but they no longer have the level of muscle and are becoming really desperate.

Please. It is MS who is pulling this. Who in the world is supposed to be surprised by their schemes ? It simply shows there is more on the way and that they will do everything and above to get their ways. It will probably end up in completely MS controlled end user computers, running on timely limited subscriptions. On top of that they may use all the users data to make even more money. Everyone with half a brain should have figured it out by now.

And, by the way: it is not important, what MS does. It is much more eminent what the end user decides to do. We have a lot of choices to leave this “wonderful” company and go with a different system. Not always easy but still better than endless complaining about MS and in the end keeping it. I understand also, there may be quite a few who have to stick with tem for whatever reason. In this case a severe case of buttrash may appear as a side effect.

There is nothing new under the sun. When you give an entity too much power, be sure that it WILL ABUSE it. I’ll say it for the nth time: move to Linux. Make the jump before windows 7 support ends.

Offtopic:
  If you are not aware, the European Parliament blatantly disregarded thousands of emails, calls and messages from Europe average citizens against Article 11 (link tax) and 13 (web filter). What this means it that all content uploaded to the internet can be monitored and potentially deleted if a likeness to existing copyrighted content is detected.

The EU is tyrannical, with total disregard for the common people. Another one of their inventions is the invasion of the so called “refugees”, without any vote of the general population.

Please go to: https://saveyourinternet.eu [saveyourinternet.eu] for any news regarding censorship about article 13. This has to be stopped, by all means!

Is it legal ? (antitrust laws)

Every single time I load a google website in ANY browser I get similar popup telling me to switch to chrome becasue, REASONS!.

The only way to stop that popup is to allow google to place a tracking cookie on my system.

Not once, not during an ‘install’, every single fucking time I load a google website. Why isn’t anyone having a meltdown over that?

Dave “The only way to stop that popup is to allow google to place a tracking cookie on my system”

I’m not so sure about that… I don’t use Chrome, but I also don’t ever see popups advertising Chrome. I suspect it’s because I don’t allow Javascript to run (let alone let Google store cookie) — so that may be another way to stop this.

Funny, I’ve never experienced this, and I don’t have Chrome. I just softened all my blocking barriers under Opera (I did not change anything in Settings, though), went to google.com, and did not see anything of the sort. Not saying that it did not happen to you, just puzzled.

You may be able to disable that behavior with an element blocker such as those in AdGuard or AdBlock plus. I use Duck Duck Go but even that has a semi-endless scroll of junk below the search window. It can all be disabled with an element blocker though.

Proudly brought to you by the company that equates clicking a red X with granting permission to “go ahead and install Windows 10 anyway when I’m not looking”. Given their previous bad behavior, I’m not sure why anyone would expect better conduct from Microsoft now.

Windows 10 wallpaper: https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/cd6b6718b9355c8931d77a959fdeb91f081a46643f6b08dab1d5afe14e7ebd28.png [disquscdn.com]

BTW Edge is safer == sends all your web browsing data to Microsoft. That’s what it is really about. Today, every company wants to harvest, data mine, and sell your web browsing history. Just look at all the news stories in the past two months regarding browser extensions and even anti-virus programs secretly collecting it. When the AV company got caught, they said they did it to check whether or not customers visited malicious websites. Except, the proper way to perform a check like that is to download a database of malicious web addresses and do a comparison against the history on the user’s end, not actively exfiltrate the user’s web browsing history!

“What is your take on the prompt?”

I have two thoughts. First, this is clearly abusive and scummy behavior from Microsoft. Second, this simply reeks of pure desperation on Microsoft’s part.

Seems MS is testing a new “feature” to release upon some vulnerable, non-tech folk. Sad if implemented, many will succumb to this offensive MS scheme. Oh and btw, what is this MS marketing speak about it being a kinder, friendlier, gentler MS? I still have yet to see that proposition anywhere near validated. MS can have my win7 & linux installer disk when they take them from my dead, gnarly fingers. With MS schemes like this, the result should do little more than kindle and stoke complete contempt and distrust.

Remember when you were a kid, and your parents would go out on date night, or out to dinner or whatever? They would tell you to leave the booze or the cookies or whatever alone, but you knew that they would in some way make your life better. Satya Nadella, you’re not my dad!

This is horrible. There’s no excuse for it.

That said, whenever I see a new “feature”, advertisement, or way of doing things that I don’t like, my question is “Can I turn this off permanently in settings, or set it to do things the old or a more acceptable way on a permanent or semi-permanent basis?”.

If the answer is “Yes”, as appears to be the case here (Note the hyperlink included allowing one to turn it off in settings), I change the setting and get on with my life. I’m used to spending several hours with a new PC, smartphone, or other device getting it set to do what I want how I want without crapware or advertisements, and with the appropriate software installed and set as defaults, and then getting the software set up the way I want it. This is just another 5 seconds in that process- one I would run into once per PC while I am installing Firefox (Or whatever browser I’m installing), which is going to come during that initial setup process. I guess I’ll also have to do it for my existing PC once when the new version of Windows comes out.

So, in that context, I can deal. I guess that all this is heading in an ominous direction where eventually the settings that get me out of most of the things Windows 10 does that I don’t like may not be available to set anymore, which is why I am glad Linux exists as a potential fallback if we wind up in the worst possible future. ;) But it’s entirely possible that they’ll just stick with the type of thing they are doing and allow it to be turned off by what they probably consider “power users”, figuring it’s not a very large percentage of their install base, and it’s a group they want to keep happy because they are disproportionately called up by relatives and friends and asked for recommendations or computer help (and sometimes even work in IT).

Funny that everybody smashes on MS not to be number one. Wasn’t that the main argument for linux and co so that it makes no sense to develope shit for this plattform?

I think people are criticizing Microsoft in the hope that they’ll stop doing terrible things, not to stop them from “being number one”.

Not surprising, new ways of tricking people into using products are common. Those who understand what’s happening will blow by this and ignore edge; the other 99% of users won’t know what’s going on.

MS has done the same thing forever when you try to uninstall (or whatever windows really does) IE: “Danger! Danger! Windows no work no more!” Yeah it will and will also work perfectly with edge blocked by their own firewall! Fools!

Overall edge stinks, still looks and runs like part of a beta.

It would be nice if some genius released software that would peel Win 10 out of the junk wrappers vs. knowledgeable users going at it piecemeal.

It was many years ago Microsoft fell over the EDGE……

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