Subscribe / Unsubscribe Enewsletters | Login | Register

Pencil Banner

Mozilla slams Microsoft over Windows 10's default browser switcheroo

Gregg Keizer | Aug. 3, 2015
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."

Years later, however, Microsoft screwed up when it omitted the browser choice screen from Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1). Microsoft contended that it had been a simple technical oversight, but in 2013 the EU slapped the U.S. company with a $732 million fine for dropping the ball.

Beard pointed out that Mozilla had reached out to Microsoft before yesterday to express its misgivings about the express setting of Edge as the default browser in Windows 10. "When we first encountered development builds of Windows 10 that appeared would override millions of individual decisions people have made about their experience, we were compelled to immediately reach out to Microsoft to address this. And so we did. Unfortunately, this didn't result in any meaningful change," Beard said.

Publicly available planning documents that Computerworld found last week showed that Mozilla knew then that Windows 10 would alter the browser default, and was crafting a campaign to try to retain Firefox users. As part of that campaign, Mozilla pulled its touch-based Windows browser out of mothballs; the Windows 10 version of Firefox is to launch Aug. 11.

Mozilla can ill afford to lose large numbers of users: While Firefox's share has stabilized at around 12% of all browsers worldwide in 2015 -- ending June with 12.1% -- its share is now about half what it was two years ago.

But Beard denied that Mozilla's complaint was related to Firefox. "These changes aren't unsettling to us because we're the organization that makes Firefox," Beard said in his letter to Nadella. "They are unsettling because there are millions of users who love Windows and who are having their choices ignored, and because of the increased complexity put into everyone's way if and when they choose to make a choice different than what Microsoft prefers."

Microsoft has its own browser problems. It has had a hard time holding onto Internet Explorer (IE) users since August 2014, when it abruptly told most customers that they needed to upgrade to IE11 by January 2016. Google's Chrome has been the main beneficiary of that announcement,

More problematic for Microsoft: It will soon lose control of its last IE stronghold. According to research firm Gartner, next year Chrome will dominate corporations, with about two-thirds of enterprise users running Chrome as their primary browser.

Microsoft's decision to make Edge the default browser in Windows 10 during the upgrade process was likely a move to shore up its browser share overall, and kick-start the brand-new Edge at the same time. The Redmond, Wash. company is banking on revenue from its Bing search engine -- the default in Edge -- to replace the money lost as Windows license sales fall. On Wednesday, David Pann, the general manager of the Bing Ads group, told Web advertisers that Microsoft expected a 10% to 15% jump in search queries because of Windows 10.


Previous Page  1  2  3  Next Page 

Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.