Mozilla yesterday went public with its complaint about Windows 10 resetting the default browser, calling it "disturbing" and demanding that it "undo its aggressive move to override user choice."
In a letter from Mozilla CEO Chris Beard to Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella, Beard slammed the way Windows 10 setup changed the default browser on a Windows 7 or 8.1 PC upgraded to Windows 10.
"I am writing to you about a very disturbing aspect of Windows 10," Beard said in the letter, which Mozilla posted publicly. "Specifically, that the update experience appears to have been designed to throw away the choice your customers have made about the Internet experience they want, and replace it with the Internet experience Microsoft wants them to have."
Beard was referring to the Windows 10 upgrade setup process, which in "Express Settings" assigns the new Microsoft browser, Edge, as the default, even if users had previously specified a rival like Mozilla's Firefox or Google's Chrome. Most users will simply click "Next" in the Express Setup without diving into the details.
Users who accept that setting for Edge must later -- the first time they click on a link -- confirm Edge as the default.
Windows 10 users can later re-assign Firefox or another browser as the default, but doing so requires work on the part of the user, many of whom will be unlikely to bother.
That rubbed Beard the wrong way. "We appreciate that it's still technically possible to preserve people's previous settings and defaults, but the design of the whole upgrade experience and the default settings APIs have been changed to make this less obvious and more difficult," Beard complained to Nadella.
In a blog post, Beard elaborated on Mozilla's displeasure with Windows 10's upgrade behavior, and resurrected antitrust actions Microsoft's faced, perhaps hinting at new complaints to regulators, if not in the U.S., then in the European Union (EU). "It is bewildering to see, after almost 15 years of progress bolstered by significant government intervention, that with Windows 10 user choice has now been all but removed," Beard alleged.
Beard was referring to the dispute between Microsoft and the EU's European Commission over browser installation that dated back to 2009, when under threat from Brussels-based officials, Microsoft modified Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 to give users an explicit choice about which browsers they ran on their PCs. A settlement came after several companies, including Norwegian browser build Opera, griped that Microsoft was abusing its OS dominance to push Internet Explorer on customers.
As part of the settlement, Microsoft pledged to build -- and did -- a display that let EU users pick which browser they installed when they first ran Windows.
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