Windows 10's Edge must stop stealing the browser default, says Vivaldi CEO

Vivaldi's Jon von Tetzchner has called on Microsoft to stop trying to foist Edge on Windows 10 users.

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Vivaldi CEO Jon von Tetzchner: "Instead of building a better browser, Microsoft is forcing its product onto people in the most unapologetic manner."

Image: Opera Software

It wasn't long ago that Microsoft was punished by European regulators for bundling Internet Explorer with Windows. Now the company once again stands accused of anti-competitive behavior, not for bundling Edge, but for resetting it as the default browser when Windows 10 upgrades.

The complaint comes from Jon von Tetzchner, CEO and co-founder of browser Vivaldi, who also founded Opera in the 1990s.

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Von Tetzchner retells the story of a 72-year-old friend who, after upgrading to Windows 10, couldn't find how to set any browser other than Edge as her default. On Windows 8, she could choose her preferred browser, but on Windows 10 all roads seem to her to lead back to Edge.

"It all started with the operating system on her PC upgrading from Windows 8 to Windows 10, without her will and consent. Even worse, her default browser has been changed to Edge, even though she had no interest in using it," von Tetzchner writes.

ZDNet has contacted Microsoft for a response to the criticism and will update this article if it receives a reply.

Mozilla had similar concerns to those of Opera when Microsoft first rolled out Windows 10 in 2015, prompting it to write an open letter to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, appealing for it stop overriding user choice by replacing Firefox with Edge. It also posted an explanation for how to choose another browser as the default.

But as von Tetzchner highlights, Windows 10 users lose their default browser choice after each upgrade from Microsoft.

"Every time Windows 10 upgrades, it changes the default browser to Edge. Same thing tends to happen when a new browser is installed. For some reason, it leads to restoring Edge as the default option. Not the new browser, and not even the browser that was there as a default one previously."

Von Tetzchner calls on Microsoft to "stop stealing the default browser" and compete on the strengths of Edge.

"I understand that Microsoft is concerned with the low usage of Edge, but instead of building a better browser, Microsoft is forcing its product onto people in the most unapologetic manner," he says.

The reasons for his gripe are similar to those he gave in 2007, then as CEO of Opera, for filing its complaint over Microsoft bundling IE to Windows. He argued that "consumers were tired of having a monopolist make choices for them".

The EU forced Microsoft to offer Windows users installation options for several browsers between 2010 and 2014, and the company paid a hefty €561m fine for accidentally omitting that option in Windows 7 SP1 for over a year during that period.

Von Tetzchner has confirmed he's not planning on filing a complaint with the EU but he is appealing for Microsoft to "do the right thing".

"Stop stealing the default browser, accept user choice and compete on the merits," he writes.

Last year Russian antivirus firm Kaspersky filed a complaint with its local competition regulator, accusing Microsoft of squeezing out rivals and pushing users to its built-in Windows Defender program.

A Microsoft exec highlighted this week that it supported consumer choice, stating that "Windows 10 respects your freedom to choose protection software and services that you like best."

Read more about the Vivaldi browser

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