Microsoft’s testing an idea to promote Bing in Windows 11 – and it’s so awful, it makes me want to install Linux

Microsoft’s testing an idea to promote Bing in Windows 11 – and it’s so awful, it makes me want to install Linux
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Windows 11 (and Windows 10) users who are browsing with Chrome might be confronted by a new pop-up Microsoft is testing that attempts to persuade them to switch to Bing.

Windows Latest picked up on the pop-up which appears in a box bottom-right of the browser window, urging users to try Bing as their default search engine, reminding them that it’s easy to switch back if they don’t like Bing (more on that later). The promotional blurb is pushing the capabilities of Bing AI (which we thought had been officially renamed to Copilot a while back, but never mind) and “free access to ChatGPT-4.”

This is even more intrusive than it first seems, because not only is Microsoft wanting to switch your default search to Bing, but the pop-up is also asking to install the Bing Search for Chrome plugin – as this ‘improves the chat experience’ with Bing AI, you’re told.

Clicking yes to the prompt means your default search is switched to Bing and this Bing plug-in is installed – or you can elect to say no – but there’s another level to the hassle here.

In actual fact, it’s the plug-in that changes your search to Bing here, and when Chrome realizes what has happened, Google’s browser warns you that an extension has changed the default search to

Now, when Chrome informs you of what’s happened, you can click a button to ‘Change it back’ (your default search) to whatever it was before. But, here’s the additional kicker: Microsoft has implemented another pop-up to appear under Chrome’s message urging you not to change it back, and that you should select ‘Keep it’ (the plug-in) to not lose access to Bing AI. Good grief, as Charlie Brown might say…

Windows Latest contacted Microsoft when the site experienced all this, and the company confirmed the pop-up, but explained that it’s currently a test notification.

Microsoft said: “This is a one-time notification giving people the choice to set Bing as their default search engine on Chrome. For those who choose to set Bing as their default search engine on Chrome, when signed in with their MSA they also get more chat turns in Copilot and chat history.”

The software giant added: “We value providing our customers with choice, so there is an option to dismiss the notification.”

Analysis: Bing it on – or rather, don’t

So, wait a minute, Microsoft – you’re actually flagging that “providing our customers with choice” in the form of a ‘no’ option is some kind of laudable initiative here? It’d be interesting to see a pop-up that didn’t provide any choice and just switched to Bing and installed said plug-in, whatever you did. That’d go down well.

Okay, so Microsoft has pushed Bing in similar ways in the past (and Edge for that matter, and other services, of course). And for the sake of balance, we should note that Google promotes its own services too (search, Chrome, and more). But as far as we’re aware, this represents reaching a new level of hassling the Windows user.

You might wonder – how is this happening in Chrome, a Google-owned app, anyway? Windows Latest asserts that it’s not something piped in by a Windows cumulative update (which just happened for March), but rather it’s a server-side change from Microsoft which is filtering through to some users (as a test, as noted).

Windows Latest theorizes that the pop-up could be facilitated by one of a couple of files the tech site dug up which were added to some Windows 11 systems two days ago, apparently. (BCILauncher.EXE or BingChatInstaller.EXE, and those file names certainly make it seem like these have something to do with this promo push from Microsoft).

It’s these more intrusive measures which are consistently giving Microsoft a bad name on the hassling users front. Whether its Bing, Copilot, Edge, OneDrive, or anything else, just leave off these heavy-handed attempts at driving adoption, please, Microsoft.

Even testing them, thanks, is not welcome. You shouldn’t even be remotely considering using these kind of multi-stage pop-ups which exhibit malware-like behavior in attempts to cajole users into installations, and avoid reversing those installs when another app flags up what’s happened.

It’s this kind of stuff that does make us yearn for a good Linux distro in some ways, even if we must admit, it’s an empty threat. There are just too many reasons to stick with Windows for our computing (and gaming) usage, but honestly, the temptation is stronger due to measures like this.

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