Could Google be worried about the new Edge browser stealing away Chrome users? It seems that way, with the company now displaying a warning to people using Microsoft’s new web browser when they access the Chrome web store.
Originally, Microsoft’s Edge web browser was a deeply unpopular piece of software, despite it being the default web browser in Windows 10, which led Microsoft to overhaul the app, and it’s now based on the same Chromium engine as Chrome.
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This allows Edge to use extensions that were originally designed for Chrome. It’s a great feature that has made Edge a much more attractive web browser – and it seems Google is getting nervous.
As Windows Latest reports, Edge users who visit the Chrome web store are seeing a warning message that says “Google recommends switching to Chrome to use extensions securely.”
While this doesn’t prevent Edge users from adding Chrome extensions, the message is clearly designed to make them feel like their web browser is less secure than Chrome – something that we’ve not seen evidence of, especially as they both use the same underlying tech.
It’s a rather underhanded thing to do, especially due to Chrome’s huge market share lead. It smacks of a company trying to stifle competition, something Google (and Microsoft) have been accused of in the past.
Not the first time
This isn’t the first time Google has used scare tactics aimed at Edge. In 2019, the company issued similar warnings to Edge users who used Google’s services like Google Teams, Gmail, Google Docs and YouTube Music.
Google has been using the 'user-agent' tag to identify Edge users. The fact it’s using that to warn Edge users who access its popular services is particularly concerning.
While it seems like Google is using its popular services as leverage to scare people away from using Edge, let’s not forget that Microsoft is guilty of using similar tactics.
As we mentioned earlier, Microsoft uses its position as the developer of Windows 10 to its advantage by making Edge the operating system's default browser. It's also used this position to show messages and warnings when users search for Chrome and install it, as it tries to discourage people from switching from Edge.
Still, this doesn’t excuse Google’s behavior. As Windows Latest reports, in 2019 Google claimed it wasn’t trying to block Microsoft Edge, but instead it was holding off “whitelisting it until Edge comes out of beta”.
That’s not too convincing an excuse, especially as Edge is now out of beta. Going by what Google said, those messages should no longer be appearing.
So, is Google rattled by the new Edge? While Chrome’s market share remains all but unassailable at the moment, the fact that Edge users are seeing these warnings, but users of other Chromium-based browsers, like Opera, have not, makes us suspect that Google is keen to scare off Edge users in particular.
It’s a messy business, but users of Edge won’t be too keen on being used like this in Google’s and Microsoft's escalating battle.
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Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made.