Microsoft is stepping up its relentless campaign to encourage Windows 10 users to run its own Edge browser.

The company has used various tactics to persuade Windows users to run the revamped Edge, including pop-ups within the operating system and questionable prompts to use Microsoft’s “recommended” browser. Now the nagging is being stepped up a gear.

The soon-to-be-launched Windows 10 20H2 update, which is due for general release in early October, already installs Microsoft Edge by default and makes it irremovable.

On my test system, which is running an early preview of Windows 10 20H2, an Edge icon is placed as the first icon on the Taskbar and there’s another shortcut to Edge placed on the desktop, in case you missed that.

Should you fail to engage with these, Windows 10 issues a pop-up balloon from the Taskbar, proclaiming that “The new Microsoft Edge is here”, urging users to “launch the browser recommended by Microsoft to get back to the web”. This is all despite my already having installed a rival browser as the default in Windows 10.

On another Windows 10 machine, which is still running the current Version 2004, I was yesterday presented with an unprompted Edge browser window, which itself contained a pop-up urging me to import favorites and other settings from rival browsers, and a prompt to make Microsoft Edge the default browser.

Worse to come

However, it appears the current level of nagging is just a warm-up act for worse to come in the Windows 10 21H1 update, which is due to arrive in the first half of next year and is already being tested with Windows Insiders.

According to a report on HowToGeek, the Windows 10 Settings app now includes a header that includes a “web browsing” section. If you’re not running Microsoft Edge as the default browser, this will prompt you to “restore recommended” browser settings that reassert Edge as the go-to browser.

According to HowToGeek, there is no way to dismiss the recommendation, even if you’ve made a specific choice to install one of Edge’s rivals as the default.

Worse, this icon appears next to another for Windows Update that says “attention needed” if there are security updates to install. Microsoft is giving the browser choice the same prominence as urgent security updates.

Anti-competitive behavior?

Microsoft has been previously been punished heavily by regulators for bundling browsers with Windows and harming consumer choice. At one point, Microsoft was forced by the European Union to offer users a choice of alternative browsers when they first installed Windows 7.

However, Microsoft’s browser dominance has long since been eroded by Google Chrome, which now has almost 70% of the desktop/laptop market, according to NetMarketShare. Edge has less than 10% share, which doubtless explains why Microsoft feels emboldened to push its own browser with such force in Windows 10.

You might like Microsoft Edge, you might not. Either way, it seems you’re going to be hearing a lot more about it if you’re a Windows 10 user.

Microsoft has been invited to comment on this article.

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