Microsoft's latest version of its Edge browser apparently hits a little too close to home for Google. Both are based on the open-source Chromium project, which means they share large components of the same code. As a result, Edge users can add useful browser extensions from the Chrome store or the Microsoft Store.

Except, Google would really rather you didn't. So much so that the company is showing users a warning when they visit one of its sites using Microsoft Edge. That includes when you attempt to add Chrome extensions from the Chrome Store.

Interestingly, Edge isn't the only other Chromium browser out there. I use Brave every day mostly because it has the convenience of Chrome, but without the tracking and ads. I've never once seen that warning when I install extensions. I also use Safari, which also has the benefit of blocking ad tracking and device fingerprinting. 

There's a certain irony that a browser built by Microsoft has such a small market share that it can basically redesign the entire thing from the ground up and no one even notices. 

Of course, now it's Google with the commanding lead, with 69 percent of users choosing Chrome as their browser. Firefox, which is the second-most-popular browser has around 10 percent of users. Safari comes in third and is mostly limited to Mac and iOS users. Edge isn't even on the map.

With that in mind, you might wonder why Google cares so much about Edge. 

It's really pretty simple, and despite what Google might say, it has nothing to do with security. Google makes money by showing you targeted ads, primarily on Google's search engine. It does that by collecting information about you and tracking pretty much everything you do online, and it happens to be really good at it. Chrome makes that possible for a few reasons.

The first is simple: Google isn't the default search engine for Microsoft Edge. Bing is. Sure, some of you have no idea what Bing is other than the last name of a character on Friends. It's actually a search engine on which Microsoft sells ads. In fact, while Microsoft Ads is a distant fourth overall, behind Google, Facebook, and Amazon, it has been gaining in search advertising. 

Second, anytime you switch to another browser, there's a much higher chance that you'll use an ad-blocker or anti-tracking technology that makes it harder for Google to monetize your information. As the world's largest advertising platform, this is a big deal for Google. It wants to control the entire user experience so it can make sure nothing stands between the user and the ads it wants to show.

Besides, this is Microsoft. If there's any company out there with the power to steal away Google's market share, it's probably the company that at one point controlled 95 percent of all internet traffic through its Internet Explorer browser. It also happens to be one of the rare companies that has the money and user base that makes it not all that inconceivable that Microsoft could put a real damper on Google's browser market share, and in return, its bottom line.

Published on: Feb 26, 2020
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