Mozilla lashes out at Microsoft for harmful design practices

Firefox vs Microsoft

Firefox vs Microsoft

Mozilla has launched a strong criticism against Microsoft for using dark patterns to push Windows users to adopt Edge and mentions that Microsoft's tactics undermine free browser choice.

Mozilla claims that Microsoft uses these "dark patterns" in several situations, which are design techniques that manipulate user behavior, including during the initial setup of Windows, when updating the operating system, or when installing another browser.

In a report entitled "Over the Edge: How Microsoft's Design Tactics Undermine Browser Choice", the Mozilla researchers, Harry Brignull and Cennydd Bowles, detail how Microsoft uses user interface design on Windows 10 and 11, Edge and Bing to promote your browser and discourage the use of alternatives.

In order to choose your own browser, you must be able to download it freely, easily set it as your default browser, and continue using it, all without interference from the operating system. According to Mozilla, Windows users do not currently enjoy this freedom of choice.

According to the report, Microsoft uses preselection methods, visual interference, misleading writing and surreptitious advertising to influence users' decisions. During the initial setup of Windows, Edge is presented as the only option without mentioning alternatives. Additionally, when updating Windows, users are urged to “upgrade to the new version of Microsoft Edge” with no opt-out option.

Mozilla criticizes the use of harmful practices that go against Microsoft's design guidelines, causing harm to consumers, eroding trust in the technology sector, and distorting competition in the browser market.

In some cases, using harmful design tactics goes against Microsoft's own design guidelines. In many cases, it can cause (and exacerbate) harm to consumers and undermine competition from rival browsers. This type of behavior is particularly concerning for a standalone browser like Firefox, which relies on operating systems provided by companies that are also suppliers of rival browsers.

All the Reported tactics include pre-selecting Edge during installation from other browsers, showing Edge ads on the Chrome download page, and integrating Edge ads into Bing search results.

The report of Mozilla emphasizes that developers, including Microsoft, They have the right to promote their products, but they must do so in a transparent and ethical manner.a, without manipulating users' choices.

In addition, it is mentioned that several manipulation interface models are defined, such as "Confirmshaming", "Forced action", "Visual interference" and "Disguised ads". An example of this is how Edge included ads for Microsoft's browser on the Chrome download page on Google's website, which is a clear attempt to influence users' decisions.

Mozilla urges Microsoft to stop the use of these "dark patterns" and allow users to freely choose their preferred browser. Additionally, advocate for global regulations that restore competition and browser choice across platforms.

"The message appears in a non-standard format that we have not observed in any other Bing ad," the Mozilla document notes, adding that it resembles "the Windows user interface, which the user can also interpret as a bookmark." authority and legitimacy. ”.

"With this message, Microsoft is taking advantage of its trust in its role as an operating system provider and using it to mislead users, implying that compliance is necessary for security reasons," the report states. "Therefore, a user can reasonably conclude that this message is some type of system notification or warning."

Mozilla believes that these Microsoft practices are contrary to the principles of the open web, which are based on respect for users, transparency and fair competition. That's why Mozilla asks Microsoft to stop using “dark patterns” and allow users to freely choose the browser they prefer, without influencing or coercing them. Mozilla also reminds that users have the right to change browsers at any time and can do so easily.

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