For years, Google has placed prominent pop-up ads on its web properties suggesting people switch to Google’s Chrome browser, saying they’ll get better performance, features and security. Now Microsoft is trying the same idea, taking advantage of its email service to try to push people to its newly revamped Edge web browser.
“Microsoft Edge + Outlook = Better together,” says one promotional note across the top of the Outlook.com website. Clicking the text sends you to an Edge download site, but the site doesn’t indicate in what ways Microsoft thinks its technology works better. A variety of other ads also can be shown, according to Windows Latest, which spotted the ads earlier this week.
The promotion is a new example of tech giants using power in one domain to promote their browsers. Microsoft also has prompted people to switch to Edge using ads in the Windows 10 start menu. And though Apple allows third-party browsers on its iPhones and iPads, it requires them to build their software on Apple’s own Safari browser technology foundation.
It’s not clear how widespread Microsoft’s Edge promotion is. I saw it in Chrome, but not other browsers, and only on one computer. Microsoft and Google didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Chrome dominates browser usage, accounting for 64 percent of web activity, according to analytics firm StatCounter. Microsoft stripped down its Internet Explorer into a more modern Edge years ago, but when that failed to catch on widely, Microsoft rebuilt Edge on top of Chromium, Google’s open-source foundation for Chrome.
That new version of Edge is available for download now. Microsoft plans to distribute it widely through Windows Update later this spring.
Browsers are important for tech giants. They drive traffic to search engines that often share resulting ad revenue with the browser. But when Chrome sends searches to Google or Edge sends them to Bing, the browser makers don’t have to share revenue with another company.
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