AFP via Getty Images
You’ll recall that last month Google started warning Microsoft Edge users about the browser’s potential dangers. You’re more secure using Chrome, the company said, whenever a Microsoft Edge user browsed their way onto the Chrome Web Store in search of extensions. Well, not any more.
At the time, Windows Latest, which first reported the warnings, accused Google of “abusing user agents,” or browser identity codes, to detect Edge users and flash up the frightener. Now Google has taken the criticism to heart—the warnings have stopped. Instead, users are greeted with a much more friendly: “You can now add extensions from the Chrome Web Store to Microsoft Edge—Click on ‘Add to Chrome’.” Good news indeed.
The issue arose because Chrome and Edge are both built on the same Chromium platform. It seems that Google’s reasoning for issuing the warning to Edge users is that the Microsoft browser does not integrate with Google’s Safe Browsing. Google explains that Safe Browsing enables Chrome and other browsers “to show users a warning message before they visit a dangerous site or download a harmful app—it also protects the Chrome Web Store from potentially harmful extensions.”
If an extension puts users at risk, runs the argument, Google can’t act to protect them. This is why other Chromium browsers signed up to Google Safe Browsing did not receive the same warning. It had nothing to do with the competitive landscape between Microsoft and Google and a ploy to push people to change browser. Nothing at all. Honest.
Anyway, for whatever reason Google has withdrawn the warnings. Microsoft hasn’t altered its security stance and so the actual situation has not changed. One can only assume, therefore, that Google has rethought the wisdom of the marketing ploy. Security has become one of the key tenets in the browser war, as the value of a user’s desktop and mobile interface to the web become ever more valuable.
The slight irony here, of course, is that Microsoft has oft been accused of using its own platform dominance for competitive advantage. Exactly what Google, with its more than 60% share of the browser market, is accused of doing here. Keeping up with its rival’s market lead and popular functionality—including extensions—were the very reasons Microsoft opted for a Chromium strategy in the first place.
For now, though, Microsoft Edge users are safe to browse for Chrome extensions without the risk of being frightened away. This particular media storm in a teacup has come to an end. The browser wars, though, will just run and run.