When Microsoft shows enthusiasm for something, it can occasionally come across as a touch gauche.
Such has been the case with its enthusiasm — nay, insistence — that Windows users should try its new Edge browser.
Some Windows 10 users have complained that Microsoft is stealing their Chrome data in order to entice them to live in the Edge.
But then there are those Windows users who are thoroughly annoyed by how Edge is attaching itself to their everyday lives and refusing to leave.
One ZDNet reader is clearly miffed. So much so that I relayed his story to Microsoft.
I’ll leave the company’s response for an exciting ending.
I’ll begin with the tale itself.
Began the reader: “Further to your article about Edge browser I just wanted to share my experience on Windows 7 which is also getting spammed with this and it does steal data.”
Goodness, this is quite an accusation. But wait, we’re merely at the beginning: “My wife’s computer, which is running Windows 7, got a Windows update this morning, which then gave the full-screen welcome page for Edge Chromium. She was terrified as this looked exactly as if malware had taken over the machine.”
Malware is one of technology’s greatest scourges. Look how it terrifies people.
The reader continued: “How could any application be running that she hadn’t started? How is it that Microsoft can’t manage to provide security updates for Windows 7, as it is end of life, but still manage to force a new web browser that isn’t wanted on Windows 7 users?”
An existential question, for sure. But one best left for a smooth tincture at the end of the day.
Meanwhile, back to Edge: “So the full-screen welcome page for Chomium Edge did have a faint ‘close’ gadget in the top right, which was the very first thing we clicked, instead of clicking the administrator button to continue with the getting started process or the sinister ‘learn more’ button.”
Education does have its sinister aspects, to be sure. Especially on the web. You click “learn more” and you suddenly discover that learning more means being more trapped in a vortex of commitment. Or, even worse, expenditure.
Our reader, however, was still learning that technology’s depths can appear infinite.
“This still left Edge pinned on the taskbar and when I hovered over it, it showed all the recent sites she had visited on Chrome. So it must have stolen that data from Chrome which is the only browser she ever uses. I unpinned it from the taskbar but it has already taken all the data, including passwords and presumably sent any useful data up to the cloud.”
One should always presume one’s data has drifted to a place one will never be able to visit.
Yet this experience made our reader reach a painful conclusion: “This is malware, I don’t see any other way to interpret it. No application should be importing data from another application without asking, especially when the user hasn’t even tried to install it. On Windows 7 this is indefensible.”
When I originally asked Microsoft about Edge and its proactive attitude toward innocent Windows users, the company offered its belief that “browser data belongs to the customer and they have the right to decide what they should do with it.”
Microsoft also explained that there’s a way to discard the personal browser data Edge might pick up. And a way not to do it. Terminating the browser prematurely means that some residual data might be left behind.
But what about this Windows 7 example? Well, Microsoft promised me it would look at our reader’s feedback.
And, well, that’s it. I’ve heard no more.
Here’s the part I still don’t get and, if I’m frank, it makes my eyebrows twitch like nervous crickets. Edge is a fine browser. It’s quick, effective, and has superior privacy instincts than does Chrome. I have begun to use it and I like it.
When you launch a new product, however, you have two choices: You can announce it, make people feel good about it, and then rely on word of mouth. Or you can try ramming it down people’s throats.
The former is often more effective.
Microsoft has chosen the latter.