Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Microsoft Still Anti-Competitive

Thomas Germain (via Hacker News):

An April Windows update borked a new button in Chrome—the most popular browser in the world—that let you change your default browser with a single click, but the worst was reserved for users on the enterprise version of Windows. For weeks, every time an enterprise user opened Chrome, the Windows default settings page would pop up. There was no way to make it stop unless you uninstalled the operating system update.


This petty chapter of the browser wars started in July 2022 when Google quietly rolled out a new button in Chrome for Windows. It would show up near the top of the screen and let you change your default browser in one click without pulling up your system settings.


Mozilla’s Firefox has its own one-click default button, which worked just fine throughout the ordeal.


In response, Google had to disable its one-click default button; the issue stopped after it did.

Tom Warren (via Hacker News):

Microsoft has now started notifying IT admins that it will force Outlook and Teams to ignore the default web browser on Windows and open links in Microsoft Edge instead.


While this won’t affect the default browser setting in Windows, it’s yet another part of Microsoft 365 and Windows that totally ignores your default browser choice for links. Microsoft already does this with the Widgets system in Windows 11 and even the search experience, where you’ll be forced into Edge if you click a link even if you have another browser set as default.


“This change is designed to create an easier way for Outlook and Microsoft Teams users to reduce task switching across windows and tabs to help stay focused,” says Katy Asher, senior director of communications at Microsoft[…]


Microsoft tested a similar change to the default Windows 10 Mail app in 2018, in an attempt to force people into Edge for email links. That never came to pass, thanks to a backlash from Windows 10 testers. A similar change in 2020 saw Microsoft try and force Chrome’s default search engine to Bing using the Office 365 installer, and IT admins weren’t happy then either.


Update (2023-06-27): Microsoft (Hacker News):

If you have a Microsoft 365 Personal or Family subscription, browser links from the Outlook app will open in Microsoft Edge by default, right alongside the email they’re from in the Microsoft Edge sidebar pane.


Ultimately though, if this experience isn’t right for you, you can turn off this feature the first time it launches in Microsoft Edge, and then in Outlook settings at any time after that.

Update (2023-08-31): Microsoft (via Hacker News):

In the European Economic Area (EEA), Windows system components use the default browser to open links.


That shows such complete and utter contempt for the wishes of their users. The user has actively selected a browser as the one they want to use by default, but windows only uses it in the EEA because they were forced to.

Tom Warren (via Hacker News):

I thought I had malware on my main Windows 11 machine this weekend. There I was minding my own business in Chrome before tabbing back to a game and wham a pop-up appeared asking me to switch my default search engine to Microsoft Bing in Chrome. Stunningly, Microsoft now thinks it’s ok to shove a pop-up in my face above my apps and games just because I dare to use Chrome instead of Microsoft Edge.

This isn’t a normal notification, either. It didn’t appear in the notification center in Windows 11, nor is it connected to the part of Windows 11 that suggests new features to you. It’s quite literally a rogue executable file that has somehow appeared in c:\windows\temp\mubstemp and is digitally signed by Microsoft.

Tom Warren (via Hacker News):

Microsoft will start unbundling Teams from its Microsoft 365 and Office 365 productivity suites in EU markets in October. The move is designed to avoid further antitrust scrutiny, after the European Commission opened a formal antitrust investigation into Microsoft’s bundling of its Teams software with the Office productivity suite last month.

Update (2023-09-11): Daniel Aleksandersen (via Hacker News):

Microsoft published a blog post on the Windows Insider Blog in late August with a vague statement saying that “Windows system components” were to begin respecting the default web browser setting. Windows 10 and 11 regularly bypass this setting and force-open links in Microsoft Edge instead. In my extensive testing, I haven’t found any changes in the new Windows Insider version.

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Old Unix Geek

Seems Microsoft has forgotten the last time it tangled with the EU about its bundling of a web browser..

Maybe the €1.2 billion fine Meta just got will freshen up MS memory a bit. It's interesting times in the anti-competitive world. Google not daring to release Bard in the EU, Lina Khan doing her best within the US, and then the fact that the FB fine came from Ireland (who previously dragged their feet on this kind of stuff because job creation for the home market).

And then Sam Altman doing a Sam Bankman Fried and begging for clearer regulations. Well, the latter of the two has changed his tune.

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