Uh, has anyone noticed an unwelcome addition to their Windows 11 desktop? Unlike my real-life desk, which is a bit of a nightmare, I keep the desktops of all my computers spotless. Usually, the only icon on any of their desktops is for the Recycle Bin, and I only keep that there so I can easily drag and drop any rogue shortcuts that pop up.
So, I was frustrated to see a shortcut for Microsoft Edge appear on the desktop of the PC I use in the office. Because, like many people, I only use Edge to download Chrome (Google’s rival web browser), I simply dragged the shortcut to the Recycle Bin and got on with my day.
However, when I fired up my laptop when I got home, I found an icon for Edge sitting on its desktop as well, which was again swiftly deleted. By the time I loaded up my gaming PC and was faced with yet another Edge icon, I was pretty ticked off. I swear the icon has now reappeared on some of the PCs I’ve previously deleted it from. I’m not a fan of Edge at the best of times, but when it starts appearing on my precious desktop, then it gets personal.
Bug or feature?
I saw that quite a few people online had also noticed Edge icons appearing on their desktop, and that made me think – is this a bug, or an underhanded way to get more people to use Edge? It seems more likely to be the former, as the icons started appearing after an update, and Microsoft claims it’s looking into it, according to Windows Central.
While that explanation is certainly believable – it wouldn’t be the first annoying Windows update fail, after all – the fact that I, and many other people, thought it was Microsoft trying to foist its web browser on us is a sad indictment of how the company has handled trying to get more people to use Edge.
It’s no secret that Edge is massively behind Chrome when it comes to user numbers, and Microsoft has been leveraging its ability to have Edge as the default browser in both Windows 10 and Windows 11 to try and get people to use it.
Some of those attempts have been annoying at best – and a bit pathetic at worst. When you use Edge to download Chrome, you get all kinds of messages popping up asking you to reconsider and use Edge instead. At one point Microsoft made it more difficult to set Chrome as the default browser as well, but thankfully it reversed that decision.
However, you may have noticed that when Windows 11 has a big update, it can sometimes prompt you to use Microsoft’s ‘recommended’ internet settings – which involves setting Edge back to the default web browser.
This haranguing of users to get people to use Edge can also have the opposite effect of what was intended. It’s certainly put me off using it, even if Edge is now a perfectly fine browser (and is now based on the same Chromium engine that Chrome is).
However, when I search for the Chrome browser, then install it, there are no begging pop-ups trying to get me to change my mind. All that happens is that a window pops up asking if you want to change Chrome to the default browser – and that’s it. Although the end result is the same – I eschew the preinstalled browser in favor of Chrome – it feels a lot more dignified, and I don’t end up resenting either Apple or Safari.
While these reappearing Edge icons may just be an innocent error, it’s not hard to imagine Microsoft pulling off a stunt like this in a bid to make people use Edge more.
But the more times it tries to make us switch to its Edge browser, the more it is in danger of pushing us away – and not just from Edge. If I begin feeling like Microsoft is controlling how I use my PC, then it won’t just be the Edge shortcut I’ll be deleting.
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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.