Microsoft’s latest bid to cajole Windows 11 users into switching to Edge is a pop-up 3D banner – and I’m not impressed

Microsoft has revealed a new tactic in its campaign to persuade Windows 11 users to switch to the Edge browser – and it’s a 3D banner, no less.

I suppose that’s a bit different from the usual nags I’ve seen from Microsoft, which has tried so hard, for so very long, to cajole users into switching to Edge. And honestly, some of these attempts have gotten rather tiresome.

This most recent move to entice new users is a pop-up banner that appears when you open Edge directly (or when opening a file, like a PDF, which is set to fire up Edge), and it features a prompt to get you to set Edge as your default browser.

Going by the screenshot taken by Windows Latest, the banner tries to sway you by stating that Edge will protect you against phishing and malware attacks while employing some kind of a limited three-dimensional effect with the visuals here.

Screnshot of banner

(Image credit: Mayank Parmar via Windows Latest )

In the past, Microsoft has made many attempts to get people to switch to Edge. A classic example is the experience when you’re trying to download Google Chrome on a new machine – you’ve got to use Edge as it’s there by default in Windows 11 – and a banner pops up letting you know that Edge is just as good, if not better and that there’s no need to download Chrome. 

While I can’t comment on the effectiveness of these kinds of banners and pop-ups, I can say that it’s not a concept that works for me. Personally, having multiple nag panels trying to get me to do something is not an approach that works – in fact, it kind of makes me more determined to never open Edge ever again.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I don’t think Edge is an explicitly bad browser by any means, and with the recent AI improvements and features implemented by Microsoft, it has become more popular. However, by now, Microsoft should know that nobody likes a nag, and every little nudge and push makes me – and probably others, too – less likely to give Edge a try. 

For now, I’ll stick with Google Chrome and dismiss these prompts out of principle. 

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Microsoft is getting desperate for more Bing users – but this annoying Edge pop-up is definitely not the way to go about it

It seems Microsoft is up to its old tricks in trying to push people into using its products, once again, and this time the play is to persuade Edge users to switch their search engine to Bing.

As Windows Central spotted, developer Brad Sams (of Stardock fame) brought our attention to Microsoft’s latest bout of “anti-user behavior” in a post on X (formerly Twitter).

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Sams uses the Edge browser, but was prompted to switch to Bing as the default search engine rather than Google, as you can see in the above screenshot.

This is not the first time Microsoft has been promoting Bing in such a manner, alongside driving other services including Edge itself and OneDrive. (Search for a new browser in Edge, for example, and you’ll get a banner telling you there’s no need to download a different web browser, and the various reasons why).

The Bing search engine continues to struggle for market share against the might of Google, with Microsoft’s creation securing only 3.2% of the market as of November 2023, according to Statcounter.

Analysis: Bing headway – or lack of it

Microsoft hoped that Bing Chat, its AI now-renamed Copilot, would help to swell the ranks of Bing search users when it was launched early this year – but as we can see, that hasn’t happened. The Bing search engine had a 3% share at the beginning of 2023 going by Statcounter’s figures, so has notched that up 0.2% over the course of the year – a pretty miniscule uptick.

It’s safe to say, then, that the AI angle has not panned out for Bing search, although Microsoft has now started thinking about what its various products can do for Copilot, rather than what the chatbot can do for those products. (Witness the debut of Copilot in Windows 10, driving user numbers of the AI forward, rather than keeping Copilot as a carrot to drive migration to Windows 11).

At any rate, whatever piece of Microsoft’s vast jigsaw of products and services we’re talking about, we don’t want to see prompts in Edge, or Windows 11, or anywhere else, trying to twist the arms of users to switch to another Microsoft creation.

And fair enough, Google does this kind of thing too, pushing Chrome and its own search – but not as often as Microsoft in our experience. Can we please lay off the various prompts for 2024, Microsoft? Because if anything, throughout 2023 they seem to have become more prevalent again.

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Microsoft was quick to drop this Windows 11 pop-up that took annoying to new levels

Microsoft has reversed course to remove a pop-up that it was trying out with some Windows 11 users that attempted to discern why they were quitting out of OneDrive.

Specifically, this move concerned the OneDrive sync client which resides in the system tray on the far-right of the taskbar (the little cloud icon). As the name suggests, this client oversees the syncing of the files on your PC with OneDrive in the cloud.

If you close it, you’ll see a pop-up telling you that your files will no longer be synced to the cloud, which is a fair enough warning to issue – but then Microsoft incorporated something else for some users.

As Windows Latest reports – and Neowin first observed – as November began, Microsoft added a survey pop-up for those shutting down the syncing client which appeared after the aforementioned warning.

That dialog box was piped through to a small group of Windows 11 users, we’re told, and it asked them to give a reason why they were quitting out of OneDrive sync. Reponses included ‘I don’t want OneDrive running all the time’ (which it is, in the background, with this client) and ‘I don’t know what OneDrive is’ among others. (If the latter would be your response, check out our guide to using the cloud storage service).

This annoyed a fair few Windows 11 users as you might imagine, so Microsoft canned the idea.

Microsoft told Windows Latest: “Between Nov. 1 and 8, a dialog box temporarily appeared for a small subset of consumer OneDrive users when closing the OneDrive sync client asking for feedback on the reason they chose to close the application.

“The prompt was removed after a sufficient sample of user feedback was gathered. This feedback helps inform our ongoing efforts to enhance the quality of our products.”

Analysis: Repeated aggravation

Microsoft is constantly testing these kinds of more intrusive elements in Windows 11, whether it’s ‘suggestions’ or ads for its services or polls, and like most people, we find that quite frustrating. Okay, so this was a limited subset of users, and it was quickly reversed – we’re not surprised and can only imagine the reaction (indeed, we’ve seen some of it on Reddit).

What was overstepping the mark here is that not only was this poll sent to users on the release version of Windows 11 (it may have been a test, but it wasn’t deployed in preview builds of the OS), it actually appeared repeatedly.

Yes, Windows Latest tells us that this pop-up would be summoned for affected users every single time they quit OneDrive sync. Surely, when Microsoft got an answer out of the user, that should have been it, done and dusted as they say?

Hopefully Microsoft will learn a lesson from the spicy feedback on this one and not try to insert any more such surveys cluttering up the flow of using the interface (and certainly not outside of preview versions of Windows 11).

Finally, it’s worth pointing out that for OneDrive sync there is a middle-ground in terms of not quitting, but not having it running either – the pause option. Right-click the icon and you’ll find the choice to ‘Pause syncing’ which will do exactly what it says, plus you can set the length of time (to a fairly hefty pause of 8 hours, or even 24 hours, from the drop-down menu). The app will still be running, but doing nothing, and so it shouldn’t be consuming any noticeable system resources.

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New Windows 11 users might be confused by this full-screen pop-up

Windows 11 and Windows 10 users might be faced with a rather odd-seeming full-screen pop-up after they’ve upgraded, pertaining to Windows Hello logins using facial recognition or a fingerprint.

Neowin spotted a Microsoft support document explaining that after June 13 – the day the most recent cumulative update was released for Windows 11 (and 10) – you might see the aforementioned pop-up panel if you’ve recently updated to a later version of Windows.

And it can also appear if you haven’t signed into your Windows device using Windows Hello in over a year, and you’ve just installed an update.

The prompt reads, “Choose if you want to keep signing in with your face or fingerprint,” then poses the question: “Do you want to keep storing your face or fingerprint data on this PC?”

If you choose ‘yes’ then nothing more needs to be done. If you decide you don’t want to use these biometric login methods any longer, when you click ‘no’ Windows will take you to the Settings app, where you can change your sign-in method.

Analysis: Permission to be confused, Captain

This is a strange one because we’re not told why Microsoft has decided this prompt is necessary. Has the software giant just spontaneously decided to check if users still want to continue with Windows Hello?

Well, if they haven’t used their biometric login for over a year, that seems like a fair enough helpful check to implement. However, that’s clearly not the full story, as folks who’ve used Windows Hello recently and regularly are seeing this panel too, if they’ve recently upgraded to a newer version of Windows 11 or 10. So why quiz them on the matter?

We’re not told, and that’s a bit confusing – it’d be nice to be given a reason. Could it be something to do with issues around login data permissions? Well, we’re just guessing here.

Whatever the case, it would really make sense to clarify the reason on the actual pop-up screen in Windows, or at least provide a link to that clarification for the curious. Just so people aren’t potentially confused about why they’re seeing the prompt on their PC.

Granted, plenty of folks may not care, and in the bigger picture, this is a very minor inconvenience, but still, the whole episode just seems a bit odd to us – the support document is all well and good, but doesn’t tell the full story.

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Microsoft vs Google browser fight gets ugly with Edge pop-up Chrome diss

Microsoft has fired more flak at the Chrome browser, trying to persuade those who are attempting to download Google’s web browser that Edge is a superior piece of software.

As Neowin spotted, in the scenario that you are using Microsoft Edge, and you head over to download Google Chrome, Edge will serve a pop-up promoting itself – there are actually several messages which have been spotted on both Windows 10 and Windows 11 systems.

One of them insists: “Microsoft Edge runs on the same technology as Chrome, with the added trust of Microsoft.”

And another pop-up really goes for the throat, stating: “That browser is so 2008! Do you know what’s new? Microsoft Edge.”

Do you know what isn’t new? Microsoft badgering users who are already using one of its products (Windows) to use its other products like Edge and OneDrive – and this practice was getting old some time ago.

Analysis: The heavy hand of Microsoft

As we’ve said before, this kind of promotional activity inevitably puts us in mind of the nag-fest days when Windows 10 was first launched, and Microsoft set about trying to convince Windows 7 and 8 users to take the free upgrade. It felt unnecessarily heavy-handed back then, and it still does now.

I suppose one thing we can be thankful for – sort of – is at least the pop-ups are gaining something of a sense of humor. Calling Chrome ‘so 2008’ did elicit a chuckle from us, but we guess you could argue this perhaps serves to remind people that Google has been working to refine and hone its browser for 13 years now. And just because something is ‘new’ does not equate to it being good (that said, we do think Edge is a good browser, in fairness).

As for: “Microsoft Edge runs on the same technology as Chrome, with the added trust of Microsoft.” Well, it does indeed use Chromium – along with a number of other browsers – but as to the ‘trust’ of Microsoft, that’s a pretty bizarre angle to throw in. What is Microsoft trying to suggest? That Google is anything less than unimpeachable in the browser world? Tsk, tsk, whatever next…

To be honest, we are wondering what on earth Microsoft will do to promote Edge next, as the gloves are seemingly coming off. But the real shame here is that Edge promotes itself quite well on its own merits, and any perception of verging towards desperation to drive adoption will surely backfire.

Via Windows Central

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