Microsoft is going to give you a lovely gift soon. Will you be grateful for their kindness? No. You will purse your lips like you sucked a lemon and you will be annoyed. Microsoft is kind of like a puppy who runs around peeing on things, hoping that you’ll notice and think it’s lovable. You know the puppy’s heart is in the right place, but you wish it would just stop peeing on the damn furniture.
Soon you will be getting Microsoft’s new Edge browser. Do you remember the Edge browser? It’s the web browser built into Windows 10. Almost everyone uses it exactly once to download Google Chrome. Then it’s set aside and unpinned from the taskbar, and no one ever thinks about it again. It has been underpowered, incompatible with the rich world of Chrome extensions, and cut off from the Google world most of us live in.
Even though it starts as the default browser on new Windows PCs, Edge’s market share is effectively zero. In the chart below of browser market share for the last two years, Chrome is the blue line soaring at the top by itself. Edge is down at the bottom, squooshed together with Internet Explorer and Firefox. But, hey, it’s a few points ahead of Safari, Opera, Sogou Explorer, QQ, Yandex, and Nick’s Blockchain Browser, which was a science fair project, I think.
Now Microsoft has a brand new version of Edge. It’s been rebuilt from the ground up using more compatible bits under the hood, so it’s at less of a disadvantage compared to Chrome and Firefox. Don’t get too excited, it’s still disadvantaged- it’s light on features and doesn’t have any support from developers – but it’s not quite as much of a loser as it was before this update, so that’s good, right?
You can tell the difference between the old and the new versions of Edge by the icon. In the picture below, the old icon is on the left, the new one is on the right. The old icon was designed to confuse you by resembling the Internet Explorer icon.
The new icon is presumably intended to look super cool, like a cresting wave, and definitely not a copy of an inverted Firefox logo.
It’s just a new program. What could possibly go wrong with the way Microsoft is pushing it out?
Let’s count the ways, shall we?
- The new Edge browser is delivered by a Windows Update. You can’t stop it. Once it’s installed, you can’t remove it – the update cannot be uninstalled.
- It drops an Edge icon on your desktop, even if you removed the old one.
- It forces an Edge icon into the first position on your taskbar, even if you unpinned the old one.
- The first time you open a website after the new Edge is installed, it pushes you to change your default browser away from Chrome, even if you’ve been using Chrome as your default for years.
And the biggest offense, the kind of classic Microsoft move that gives it a special place in our hearts:
- It arrives with a full-screen window pushing you to use Edge, with no obvious way to close the window. No X in the upper right corner, no Cancel button, just a foul-smelling Microsoft ad that appears to be impossible to kill without restarting your computer.
(Tip: click Get Started. There’s an X in the upper right of the next window.)
All of these things are done by design. Microsoft’s support document for the new Edge refers to the forced desktop and taskbar icons as “improvements and fixes.”
The new Edge might be quite good. I’ll never know, I’m not going to use it, but there are reviewers who say nice things about it. It’s frustrating that your first look at it will sour you on the idea of trying it. Microsoft has an interesting way of influencing people! In this case, having Edge forced onto your computer will influence you into never looking at it again.