Microsoft sinks to new depths with ads for Edge browser in Windows 11

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Windows 11 (and 10) users are experiencing quite a barrage of advertising for Edge of late, as Microsoft rather unwisely seems to be dead set on trying to push folks to use the browser rather than Chrome (or other rivals).

Windows Latest spotted a fresh couple of ad-related initiatives, the first of which is an expansion of something we recently reported on.

That would be the pop-up that Microsoft pushes on those using Edge when they travel to the Google Chrome download page, in a very unsubtle attempt to persuade against this act of browser defection.

Previously, the pop-up involved telling users that Edge employs the same tech as Chrome (both are Chromium-based), but with the “added trust of Microsoft” (and it was followed up by a large banner advert, albeit only in testing).

Now, however, that initial pop-up has a bit added on the bottom noting that by clicking the ‘Browse securely now’ button, you’ll make Edge your default browser, and that this offer is “valid for 1 person/account within first 14 days of joining.”

Offer? What now? We’ll come back to discuss this odd situation in a moment.

Windows Latest also points out that another fresh line of attack for driving Edge adoption is aimed at those who have the Edge bar turned on (an experimental feature that consists of a small floating bar). These users will see adverts appear on their desktop offering gift cards for conducting web searches using said Edge bar.

This offer promises that if you use the Edge bar for all your web search needs for three days, you’ll get a “free gift card”, and a bunch of Microsoft points.

Normally, accruing enough ‘Microsoft Rewards’ points allows for the purchase of a gift card, so it would seem to be the case that you’re going to get a dollop of points for using the Edge bar for this period of time (enough to avail yourself of said gift card, which can be used to purchase all manner of things, like apps from the Microsoft Store for example).

Analysis: Trying too hard

This is all getting a bit strange, although Microsoft incentivizing the use of its products and services via reward points to spend on goodies in the company’s ecosystem is nothing new. Pop-ups intruding on the desktop is a more in-your-face method of persuasion than normal, though – although this is only for folks who have enabled that Edge bar.

What’s odder here, though, is the addition to the nag prompt that pops up when you go to the Chrome download page in Edge, which talks about switching Microsoft’s browser to be your default as some kind of limited offer.

This is just plain confusing, doubtless making folks who see it think that they’ll get some kind of reward for switching. In case there was any doubt that by following the prompt and clicking the button to make Edge the default browser, you might get something – like maybe reward points – well, you don’t.

There’s no offer linked to this bit of promotion at all, as Windows Latest found out when the site tested clicking through on the prompt. So we can only assume this is a mistake by Microsoft, and something that has crept into the pop-up accidentally.

All of this follows on the heels of various other bits of dubious Edge promotional activity, including a rather worrying shift in tactics across platforms. Yes, recently we’ve seen those using Outlook on iOS get pop-ups urging them to use Edge as their default option rather than Safari (or other rival browsers).

The momentum of all this nagging seems to be gathering pace considerably right now, which is a dangerous thing. Even if a fair few of these measures are only being tested – or rolled out via experimental features like the Edge bar – there are still continual strong signals that Microsoft is fixated on driving up Edge adoption. Rather than letting the browser stand on its own merits and for users to come naturally, which would be, shall we say, a more confident stance; and one less likely to backfire.

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