J003-Content-Microsoft-up-to-old-bundling-tricks_SQUndoubtedly, you have heard of the new Microsoft Windows 10 browser, Edge, and if you install the new OS, it will be almost impossible to avoid the new browser. Why, I hear you ask? Because Windows 10 installs Edge as the default browser, even if you previously used Firefox or Chrome as your default.

All this has Mozilla CEO Chris Beard hopping mad. Beard wrote an open letter to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella complaining about the matter. “When we first saw the Windows 10 upgrade experience that strips users of their choice by effectively overriding existing user preferences for the Web browser and other apps, we reached out to your team to discuss this issue. Unfortunately, it didn’t result in any meaningful progress, hence this letter,” Beard wrote. “While it is technically possible for people to preserve their previous settings and defaults, the design of the new Windows 10 upgrade experience and user interface does not make this obvious nor easy.”

This will bring back a few memories to IT veterans who will remember how Microsoft used bundling tactics to make sure Windows 95 users also used Internet Explorer, a tactic that was the centerpiece of investigations and lawsuits by the US Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department.

Does bundling legally matter anymore?

Back in the Windows 95 days, bundling the browser with the operating system ran afoul of a concept called monopoly leveraging. Simply put, if Microsoft had a monopoly with Windows, it couldn’t use that to gain a monopoly with Internet Explorer (IE). And when IE was bundled this way, Microsoft indeed gained dominant market share over the previous leader, Netscape, which has now morphed into the open source Firefox.

That changed with the Mac, mobile phones and Chromebooks. The Mac came bundled with Safari, though it can also run other browsers. Chromebooks are designed almost exclusively around Chrome, meanwhile Android, Windows Phone and iOS all promote the vendors’ browsers.

The market share wars have largely changed and share tends to be based on the brand of device you use even though PCs remain an exception to this rule.

Browsers are poised for a revolution and a long-awaited one too. The phone and now the watch is the new way to get to the Internet, driving new browsing techniques, and Microsoft has an entirely new browser design with the aforementioned Windows 10’s Edge, formerly called Spartan.

It will now be the time to see how Chrome, Firefox and Safari will respond.

Get the Edge

The Edge browser has a lot in common with the Google Chrome browser as both have interfaces best described as minimalist.

Many love the simplicity of the Chrome, but personally, I am not a big fan. I like to see what my options are, rather than having to figure out where they are and how to use them.

Edge also has a Chrome style address bar/search bar but if you’re old school like myself you’ll prefer a separate search function. Yet reviewers are generally impressed with Edge, especially when talking about its speed.

Another highlight is the ability to smoothly scale so the pages render well no matter how big or small your device is. Another cool feature is the ability to markup web pages with a pen (great if you are a power-user)

Edge also has a reading list and a reading view. Reading view is already available on other browsers but its reading list which is particularly exciting as I normally used third-party applications such as Pocket to mark stories I wanted to read later. Having this feature straight into the browser is a real time-saver.

Edge has made no attempt to be backwards compatible with the now 20-year-old Internet Explorer. Some company have web apps that depend on IE, and for those the only choice is to keep running IE.

Microsoft is now 100% behind Edge, which means IE will only be getting patches and bug fixes – but no new features. For others who don’ depend on IE I would recommend giving Edge a try before going for either Firefox or Chrome… you might just like it.