face palm: Microsoft has long used intrusive, irritating, or sneaky methods to get Windows users to switch to Edge and Bing, but the latest tactic it’s tested, a pop-up, is so bad that some people initially thought it was an act about malware.
The Verges tom warren was one of those who feared his PC was infected when a pop-up appeared asking him to change his default search engine in Chrome to Microsoft Bing.
This isn’t new territory for Microsoft, of course, but it wasn’t a standard notification or one of Windows’ proposed new features. It was a deceptive executable file signed by Microsoft and located at c:\windows\temp\mubstemp.
The popup is not new; it confused many Redditors for months. Some users said they scanned their PCs with antivirus programs after seeing the message, fearing it might come from a malicious source. One person remarked that they didn’t even use Chrome.
The reality, of course, is that this is just Microsoft’s latest attempt to make people aware of its products or their latest versions. The company notoriously used aggressive tactics in promoting its Windows 10 free upgrade offer and was accused of tricking people into upgrading to this operating system using malware-like methods.
In 2016, Microsoft’s “Get Windows 10 (GWX)” pop-up offered users a choice of “Update now” or “Start download, update later,” meaning those who didn’t want the then-latest operating system closed the pop-up had to use the standard X in the corner of the box to do this. However, the company has changed that by introducing a small and easy-to-miss link to reschedule or change the upgrade. After the change, anyone who clicked on the X corner unknowingly gave their consent for the upgrade to go ahead at the scheduled time. Microsoft later admitted that it had “gone too far”.
Years later, when Microsoft launched Windows 11, it initially made changing the default web browser unnecessarily complicated.
We’ve also seen Microsoft warn people who downloaded Chrome from Edge that Google’s browser is “so 2008,” and more recently, full-size Edge ads were reported on the Chrome website. There was also a Windows update that pushed users to Edge, as well as many, many more examples.
It appears that the latest pop-up was merely an experiment by Microsoft, likely to gauge whether the level of user outcry would be acceptable. However, the company claimed that the pop-up’s behavior was unintentional.
“We are aware of these reports and have paused this notification while we investigate this unintended behavior and take appropriate action to correct it,” Microsoft director of communications Caitlin Roulston told The Verge.