Edge out rivals? No! Firefox boss BLASTS Microsoft's Windows 10 browser brouhaha

Mozilla's Beard gets in SatNad's grille over killing choice fears

Microsoft monopoly

Mozilla chief Chris Beard has fired off a tetchy open letter to Microsoft supremo Satya Nadella – because Windows 10 shunts Firefox users onto Redmond's new Edge web browser.

Internet Explorer users were warned that Edge, Microsoft's Chrome-chasing new browser, would be the default in Windows 10. But as it turns out, users of Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and other browsers have found their default web clients switched to Edge after upgrading their PCs to Windows 10.

In his letter, Beard accused the software giant of using this part of the upgrade process to "throw away the choice your customers have made about the internet experience they want, and replace it with the internet experience Microsoft wants them to have."

It's still possible to switch the application that handles web URLs by default to a different browser. But Beard said the new UI for doing this in Windows 10 makes it less likely that customers will be able to choose the browser they want:

We appreciate that it's still technically possible to preserve people's previous settings and defaults, but the design of the whole upgrade experience and the default settings APIs have been changed to make this less obvious and more difficult.

It now takes more than twice the number of mouse clicks, scrolling through content and some technical sophistication for people to reassert the choices they had previously made in earlier versions of Windows.

It's confusing, hard to navigate and easy to get lost.

He went on to describe the change as "unsettling" and "a dramatic step backwards" for Microsoft.

Beard has been Mozilla's chief for one year almost to the day, having been tapped for the corner office in late July 2014 – just about six months after Nadella was named Microsoft's CEO. The previous Mozilla boss, JavaScript creator Brendan Eich, resigned amid controversy over his personal support for a California law that would have banned gay marriage in the state.

Microsoft, meanwhile, has previously been criticized for herding Windows users toward its own browser at the expense of alternatives. In 2009, it agreed to display a menu of browser options during the Windows installation process as part of an antitrust settlement with European Union regulators, but only for a limited time – and the mandated period ended in December 2014.

Saying Mozilla was "deeply disappointed" in Microsoft, Beard concluded his letter by urging Redmond to make it "easier, more obvious and intuitive for people to maintain the choices they have already made through the upgrade experience" in Windows 10. ®

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