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Microsoft intercepting Firefox, Chrome installation on Windows 10 Insider build (ghacks.net)
1232 points by mikro2nd on Sept 12, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 740 comments

The battle for control of the user. The pressure to create/preserve market share seems to be rising.

When e.g. you look how aggressively Google is trying to switch me to Chrome from my Firefox on all of their properties, a new low was set. But from my insider buddies at Google, that strategy is working well.

This here from MSFT dials it up another notch. With the anti-trust cases in the EU, they probably will be able to geo target this feature so that from the EU all will be fine and dandy, but the rest of the world will get scared into switching to Edge.

I wish Mozilla would include a default content blocker to block Google's attempts to steal Firefox users. But then I also wish Windows blocked automated Google Chrome installs that steal default browser included as bundleware with free antivirus apps, Java, etc. I'm tired of walking a parent through uninstalling Google Chrome (that they have no idea how it was installed) and getting Firefox set as their default browser again.

I hate to be negative, but that will never happen with the current leadership at Mozilla.

They are simply no longer willing to disrupt the status quo, even to help their users. They are far more motivated to be "popular", and have a big "audience", and a respected "brand", than about sticking up for their users. The fact that they even think about software development in terms of "building an audience(?)" shows that they are way off course. The most important software we use that is actively developed is made by people who are primarily concerned with making good software, not with this pseudo public relations cargo cult corporate speak.

Hint: Go back and look at what Firefox used to be like 10 years ago, and notice the difference in culture.

The fact is, if Mozilla took a proactive stand against Google Apple and Microsoft, that would greatly increase their popularity.

The old Firefox was "irresponsible" by including a popup blocker by default, and upset a lot of people. Firefox also refused to support any of Microsoft's early web DRM. People said that not supporting DRM would lock users out of content, but it actually probably contributed to the death of those systems.

Google has been slowly clamping down on user freedoms. Just one example, Google removed the option to save html5 video[1] (I'm sure users were begging for that "feature"). I would honestly not be surprised if the UX clowns at Mozilla remove that function from Firefox as well.

How long until they remove the "view source" option because being able to view source is confusing to people who have never used a browser and it is used less than 1% of the time or some other flimsy justification?

There have been people within Mozilla who just want to abandon their own code and simply release a re-branded Chromium. Because they only care about their precious brand and keeping the donations coming, and they are truly terrible stewards of the software they have inherited. Besides, once they stop actually developing their own software, they will have lots of money leftover to give themselves bonuses and throw expensive galas.

[1]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14124294

> They are simply no longer willing to disrupt the status quo, even to help their users.

This is just false.

I guess you're not aware of the content blocking work we've been focusing on lately?: https://www.theverge.com/2018/8/30/17800714/mozilla-firefox-...

Disclosure: I work for Mozilla on Firefox. I can say, without hesitation, that we definitely give a damn about protecting the user and protecting the health of the web.

Do more to show it then. Firefox has consistently been clamping down on user freedom and aping Chrome as closely as possible, instead of actually focusing on doing the right thing. Google is not the health of the web. Helping Google is contributing to the largest walled-garden that exists.

> Firefox has consistently been clamping down on user freedom

Can you give an example? While I personally don't agree with everything Mozilla has done in the last couple of years (like the native pocket integration for example) I do not agree with that statement.

That's a recent part of it. Pocket integration, removal of about:config entries, moving to WebExtensions so that the user has less control over their browser both in terms of appearance and function, changing the appearance in a way the user has little way of altering to a more functional display, now removing Bookmark Descriptions, using random non-user-audited data transmitted from random Firefox installs to determine the focus and goals of the browser, etc.

The issue claimed by the parent is not just restricting user freedom, but not doing the right thing. Your points:

Pocket integration: not the right thing, at least not the way they rolled it out in Germany, but not a restriction on user freedom.

Removal of about:config entries: This changes in response to changes to the engine, and restrictions can make sense if they avoid mainstream users from being confused about their setup so they find it difficult to find help. The developers edition usually has a bit more flexibility here, for advanced users.

Move to WebExtensions: This massively increases evolvability of Firefox, which I expect will result in better security, better performance, and less interference between extensions.

Changing appearance: I guess things like this are a side-effect of moving to WebExtensions. Maybe they will be supported again as the API evolves.

Dropping bookmark descriptions: these are identified as a possible attack vector in https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1276819

Transmitting user data: this really does help developers and I find the way Mozilla go about this not to be sneaky the way their rivals are.

Mozilla says[1] about the Developer Edition that it "replaces the old Aurora channel" (so it's like a rolling-release alpha version) and has "tools that aren't yet ready for production". I don't think advanced users should be expected to run an alpha-quality, experimental, non-production version as their day-to-day browser just to get their configurability back.

Setting the defaults to values that don't confuse mainstream users is fine. Removing the corresponding settings from the settings dialog or other easily-accessible UI ... maybe. But removing them even from "about:config"? That used to be the place explicitly for advanced settings for advanced users, settings that were too scary for the UI. These settings need to be somewhere. (What if mainstream users discover the Developer Edition? Mozilla will have to make a Secret Developer Edition to make sure only the real advanced users can find it!)

Also, where in that Bugzilla thread are bookmark descriptions mentioned as being an attack vector? I can't find anything about it.

[1] https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Mozilla/Firefox/Dev...

> Also, where in that Bugzilla thread are bookmark descriptions mentioned as being an attack vector? I can't find anything about it.

I was wondering the same thing. The only relevant item I could find is in bug 1402890 [0] linked in the very last comment. It says:

> Websites dictating what goes in a user's bookmark without any way to change that would be a terrible idea. Doubly so if it's secretly stored without even being viewable.

To me that seems like a valid privacy concern, but it should be solvable without discarding the entire feature. The "it's too hard to maintain this, let's just drop it, some volunteer will implement this again if it's needed (yeah, it won't integrate with our own UI like the current solution does, so what)" mindset in both those bugs just reeks of CADT [1].

[0] https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1402890#c3

[1] https://www.jwz.org/doc/cadt.html

The removal of the description field in the bookmarks in the most recent version would be another example of how little they care about us users sometimes.

I read the issue where it was discussed and a few suggestions to handle it in a way that didn't break bookmarks for people who used the description feature were pretty much ignored by the developers. The only reason I could infer from the detractors is that it was inconvenient to implement. As a long time supporter of Firefox the way they disregard us users shown in that thread altered my opinion of Mozilla significantly.

> Helping Google is contributing to the largest walled-garden that exists.

They can't outright come out and take an adversarial position against google -- they rely on them for hundreds of millions of dollars. Mozilla would not exist if Google did not pay them to be their default search. Donations account for 5% of their revenue, maybe.

I disagree. Cutting away from, and taking an adversarial stance toward, Google is probably the only thing that would keep Firefox relevant in the future. If Mozilla Corp didn't exist as-is, I believe that Firefox, SeaMonkey, Thunderbird, and other related programs would honestly be stronger and have more market share among users who are not the lowest common denominator, because they would be supported by a strong community making democratic decisions, not clamped down by whatever choices some marketing suit makes about a "brand" which is now almost meaningless.

Pale Moon is proof enough of that - the platform is viable, and people care about it. If Firefox were to discard the wrongheaded choices, I'm pretty sure sure that the PM community would fold back in. Rather than saying, "oh maybe there's a reason Mozilla Corp's not using the money for real advertising", users would still be going out like we did in the early '00s and building word-of-mouth to support a product worth supporting.

Corporations do not exist to "play nice". They exist to overtake, consume, and ultimately to destroy. Google has almost fully overtaken the Web for corp backers. Mozilla needs to develop the guts to take it back for the users.

I am sorry but this is HN idealism in full display yet again. People here time and time again vastly overestimate how little of a shit people give about their browser history, or that some company is showing them ads based on their profile, or that Google is building a walled garden (The richest company in the world is a massive walled garden). especially if you give them alternative: paying for things. The only thing keeping Firefox afloat is Google money. That's the only way they can continue to do anything. If Google stopped paying Firefox, they would cease to function. On the flipside, if Firefox took Google money for just one more year, that would equal 50 times the amount of yearly donations they receive.

"Pale Moon? What???" -- 99% of the world. It has 0.06% marketshare.

If you have a way for Firefox to make money without corporate support I am all ears, but fundamental idealism isn't going to solve anything for Firefox, it will just cause Mozilla to go extinct. I'd rather have them around than not.

because they would be supported by a strong community making democratic decisions

And close enough to zero top-tier developer hours as to make no odds, so the "democratic decisions" would make no actual difference to an app that would be suddenly dead in the water.

Yeah, I would love to see a fierce, wholly independent Mozilla both doing the technical ass-kicking it's been doing, and with a much freer hand in user advocacy. But if Mozilla's income were to be cut off, everyone would suffer: they would suddenly have zero momentum with which to continue either their technical excellence or their existing, worthwhile advocacy efforts.

I've never heard of Pale Moon until now, but if Google is so evil, and Mozilla is evil for using Google too, I can't help but notice Pale Moon still run Google Ads on their site. Just seems a bit hypocritical, especially with "We use responsible ad services to keep your visit to our websites a safe and uninterrupted one." on there.

Thank you for all the work you and everyone at Mozilla do. Without you the web would be... oy gevalt.

>oy gevalt.

There's no reason for this kind of dog whistling.

Keep up the good work! I’m upset that Firefox is blocked in the corporation when I work, but glad you have some fighting spirit yet.

So what's been stopping moz://a for the last few years from integrating ~ubo into the browser like it did with Pocket?

I'm guessing time is money and developer time is lots of money.

Not convinced, as following the links in GP leads to some sub par (as in the end user experience) home grown solutions.

Further, we are not exactly talking rocket surgery here, this is an extension anyone can install with a few clicks and as many can attest this is some serious bang for the buck all across the board (performance, privacy, security). Not to mention in the meantime they had the resources to auto install addons like Looking Glass

Mozilla employee here.

> There have been people within Mozilla who just want to abandon their own code and simply release a re-branded Chromium.

Citation needed.

Here's my quote: we're committed to Gecko.

I believe you, and honestly with the latest improvements with Quantum I can see why.

I _am_ curious about the motivation behind Firefox Focus though. I use vanilla Firefox on Android and really enjoy it.. what was the motivation for using a Webkit base for Focus? Seems like the stripped down, privacy focused experience would have worked fine based on Firefox proper?

Firefox Focus first launched on iOS, where Apple's WebKit is the only web engine permitted. Focus on Android followed a similar approach using Android's WebView so the Focus team could focus ;) on the app's user experience and privacy features instead of the web engine.

However, Focus (on Android) is now moving to "GeckoView", Firefox for Android's Gecko engine repackaged into a WebView-like component. GeckoView will be available for app developers (Mozilla or others) to build new browsers. Watch Mozilla's Hacks blog for news coming soon! :)

Here are instructions for test driving Focus+GeckoView now:


The Mozilla Hacks blog post about Firefox Focus and GeckoView is now live:


> I _am_ curious about the motivation behind Firefox Focus though. I use vanilla Firefox on Android and really enjoy it.. what was the motivation for using a Webkit base for Focus? Seems like the stripped down, privacy focused experience would have worked fine based on Firefox proper?

I'm pretty sure the answer is quite simple, which is that the Gecko embedding story has been diabolical for a long time (i.e., it's hard to put Gecko in a new product), whereas the majority of WebKit ports and Chromium (through its Embedding Framework, or to a somewhat lesser extent its Content API) are designed to be easily embedded in new applications.

AIUI, the fact this led to this ridiculous situation is part of the reason for the renewed interest in embedding Gecko (and the emergence of GeckoView).

Firefox Focus developer here. Recent improvements in Geckoview (the componentized version of Gecko) mean that it will be much easier to integrate into your own browser projects. We have a whole suite of Android components being developed just for building browser-like software.

The work to make GeckoView offer a full set of functionality in Focus should also help other apps.

Also, don't forget that when Focus was released, Firefox on Android was very very slow. Despite myself being a fan of Firefox, I was using Chrome on Android for purely practical reasons. When Focus appeared, I switched to it, and then at some point to Firefox proper when it's performance became acceptable again. I guess for many users Focus (despite not using Gecko) could've paved road to Firefox.

roc did, supposedly, in late 2007. See https://robert.ocallahan.org/2018/01/ancient-browser-wars-hi...

It dates from back when Mozilla seemed to be losing quickly, and actually rebranding Chrome (with their own changes) might have made sense. I'm glad they didn't, of course.

I have no reason believe he, or anybody else at Mozilla, currently thinks that way.

Obviously by 2013 his views had changed:

See https://robert.ocallahan.org/2013/02/and-then-there-were-thr... on Presto's demise (except it lives on after death in Opera Mini, to this day!)

And https://robert.ocallahan.org/2013/04/blink.html on the Blink fork.

According to the developers of Opera, they have actually switched to Blink for Opera Mini pretty soon.

Gecko these days is pretty good, but that's only half of the story unfortunately. This is a web runtime with no successful product to power anymore. Firefox Desktop is still declining despite the Quantum work, and on Mobile Mozilla products are not registering on any chart.

Ironically, the only successfully growing Gecko-based product is KaiOS (see http://gs.statcounter.com/browser-market-share/mobile/india) but the current MoCo+MoFo leadership killed the upstream support a while ago to focus on Desktop. Maybe they will see the light...

> Firefox Desktop is still declining despite the Quantum work

Despite? I'd say because of. The last of my primary reasons for using FF over chrome were killed with Quantum.

>The last of my primary reasons for using FF over chrome were killed with Quantum.


Not the parent, but Firefox Quantum while an advancement in some ways, also killed XUL Extensions and Mozilla moved Firefox entirely to WebExtensions without the APIs to fully support existing popular add-ons. NoScript for example is a shell of what it once was, every vim keybinding extension was pretty much cutoff, TabMix Plus discontinued development since many of its popular features weren't possible with the WebExtensions API and there still isn't a great tree-style tab extension.

Most likely the parent used one or more of these, as they were some of the extensions you could point to that Firefox had but Chrome never really did, and without them Firefox arguably doesn't have the same appeal.

There's still plenty of reasons to use Firefox over Chrome, but there are also plenty of users bitter about the loss of their previously working extensions.

> killed XUL Extensions and Mozilla moved Firefox entirely to WebExtensions without the APIs to fully support existing popular add-ons

this. I was never a tree view tab convert, but definitely miss noscript and vim bindings, plus things like the selenium UI.

XUL sucked in many ways, I tried writing extensions with it and I have no illusions there. But coming up with a reasonable upgrade strategy for a huge swath of popular extensions was something that should have been done before deprecating it. Rather mozilla basically told people that if webextensions didn't do what they need now, then just hope for the best sometime in the future, and in the meantime too bad, your extensions are gone.

But honestly this wasn't the only thing, just the most recent. It's the general attitude of willingness to ignore the actual use cases of their actual users for some theoretical appeal to a mass market of "average users" that they've yet to convert. I felt much the same way after the Aurelius release broke a bunch of ui, and any number of other breaking changes over the last few years.

> I . . . definitely miss noscript and vim bindings, plus things like the selenium UI.

And by "the selenium IU" I assume you mean Selenium IDE, i.e., https://www.seleniumhq.org/projects/ide/selenium-ide.png

Is that what you mean?

This being HN, I'm operating under the assumption that most readers are developers.

I'd suggest that you read my colleague's comment at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15696184 to understand just how much friction the legacy addon ecosystem was creating. It just wasn't sustainable.

You won't find me arguing against Mozilla's decision to drop XUL extensions, I'm just stating a fact, that it was one of the primary differentiating factors between Firefox and its competition, for better because of the varied high quality extensions that you simply would not find anywhere else and obviously for worse.

Mozilla was also committed to a good browser experience that looked and felt like something that was not Chrome or Safari. Then Australis happened. And Mozilla was committed to XUL. Then WebExtensions happened. Mozilla is committed to Gecko today. Tomorrow, Blink/Chromium will happen.

I'd suggest that you read my colleague's comment at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15696184 to understand just how much friction the legacy addon ecosystem was creating. It just wasn't sustainable.

As a user of some of those "legacy" addons, I sincerely don't care about the upstream friction. I care that Mozilla has tried to cut my user experience off at the ankles more than once. The burden of having a thriving community & ecosystem is the responsibility of stewardship over that ecosystem. Mozilla has abrogated that implicit stewardship responsibility toward their community.

What IS going on with DRM? Edge is the only windows 10 browser that will play 1080p Neflix and possibly Amazon..

> I'm tired of walking a parent through uninstalling Google Chrome

That's why I installed Linux Mint on my parent's computer, it runs Firefox, Skype and Google Earth just fine, can download photos from camera, copy DVDs and that's basically all. No shitty antiviruses they can download and I can SSH to the machine to check what's going on. Nothing, if you're interested.

If you value privacy and usability, I highly suggest you to replace Skype with something else.

It's not for me, it's for my father and Skype is where his friends are.

And probably Google Earth. If it's not already logging data, it will eventually.

Isn't the Linux build set to be sunset soon anyway?

They have a new (and awful) linux build, so if you depend on it for anything I can recommend ghetto-skype, which is like the official linux build but actually works (it's a chromium wrapper around the web skype, with themes, which is exactly what the official one is these days, except the official one is terribly buggy).

Really I do not understand why Skype hasn't imploded yet with the number of awful builds they keep putting out for various operating systems. Surely the opportunity is there for someone with a good implementation of video and audio calling, cross-platform, to step in and take over.

I was looking at Google, but I no longer have any idea what the heck their strategy on Hangouts, Meet, Allo, Duo and whatever else they're producing these days is.

There is exactly one feature that keeps people on skype - it has a wide installed base and recognition and all the alternatives are fragmented. There's lots of good alternatives, they all suck because there's too many of them and the user base of each one is too small. a decade ago I would have said the solution to this is federation but it obviously didn't turn out that way.

> I'm tired of walking a parent through uninstalling Google Chrome (that they have no idea how it was installed)

Don't forget the bit where Chrome rams its fucking updater down your throat at every occasion and any way to disable it is only temporary.

And Chromium manages to be even worse at least on OSX: it apparently decides that being quit is unacceptable and relaunches itself hidden in the background.

The Google Update can be disabled (per product) via Group Policy.

If you want to manage Chrome updates on your own, use the msi installer.

Is there a way to disable it on versions of Windows that lack the Local Group Policy Editor?

Group policies are just a UI for certain registry keys I think? I imagine you could do this in regedit, but I can't tell you the exact key name.

No idea, sorry. There are ways to install gpedit on Windows Home, but the articles I've seen include some shady download.

For something that needs to be as air tight in term of security as a browser, I think it is irresponsible to disable automatic updates.

Just to show how absurd such practice is - if Mozilla wanted to do the same, they should intercept requests for Google.com and Bing.com, advising users to use Mozilla's search engine instead. I doubt Google would keep paying them if they did that though.

Which is the real problem with Mozilla being dependent on money from Google. Google can do whatever they want against Firefox, but Mozilla is very limited in its response because they can't risk upsetting Google too much.

Hasn't Windows 10 essentially solved that problem by not letting any application change the default browser setting, instead only letting them open the correct settings panel? Or is there now a way around that?

That doesn’t solve the problem of Google properties constantly prompting you to install Chrome (and vice versa for Edge).

It helps to some extent. But then again, Windows itself keeps changing my default media player and image viewer back to the Microsoft defaults, so I don't trust those settings to be as immutable as I would like them to be.

> Windows itself keeps changing my default media player and image viewer back to the Microsoft defaults

Same here, and it's maddening. That kind of bullshit, along with OneDrive ads in the freaking file browser, and now the subject of this article, have pushed me completely off of Windows.

Now that Steam Play exists and works with every Windows-only game I've thrown at it, I have absolutely nothing holding me to Windows on my gaming PC and workstations at home. I still have to deal with WSE 2016 and Windows 7 Pro at work, but that decision is not up to me and even if it were, we'd still have to stay with Windows for some of our software. The owner would absolutely love to make us a Mac house all the way but she understands why we can't make that move.

And the default PDF viewer... Apparently some Windows updates change the user-defined PDF viewer to Edge.

Yes, I've seen this on Windows 10 Pro since 1803. Hilariously, it fails to open PDF's on an SMB share, says the file can't be found while listing its path. And the Microsoft Store is still so shady that I don't trust installing anything from a non-recognized vendor, so I ended up going to Adobe's web site to get Acrobat Reader which can open PDFs whether local or on that same SMB share.

It's because "Feature Updates" are actually in-place OS upgrades. They're essentially reinstalling Windows and migrating applications and settings, but also choosing to not migrate some of them.

Is that true? Does that mean that applications with a more complex setup will break with every feature update?

I would be okay with that if the previous setting is Acrobat Reader.

Perhaps you would - but somebody else's form filling just stopped working. Hey, no big deal: MS knows better than the user "where do you want to go today."

That usually happens if that media player or image viewer edits registry to associate file types

The design is slightly evil in that any unauthorized change of the registry keys doesn't just fail but instead invalidates a hash and makes windows revert to the default.

There is no API difference between registry changes made by nonsanboxed user installed and built-in windows executables.

I don't know exactly how it's implemented, and feel free to tell us, but wongarsu is absolutely correct about the behavior. For a while, whenever I hit the button in firefox to change default browser, suddenly my default browser was edge. Not the old setting, not the attempted new setting. It was very clearly not designed with 'protection' in mind.

There's a hash of the registry key stored "securely" somewhere. Only the API the control panel default apps UI uses changes this registry key and updates the hash. When the application key is called to run and doesn't match the hash it's reset to the value from "C:\Windows\System32\OEMDefaultAssociations.xml"

It's terrible behavior.

What sorts of locks/permissions does this file have?

Maybe you could make a tool that lets you make changes, schedules a modification of this file on next restart, and after the restart it propagates the changes in the registry too.

Yes, "please reboot to apply your new mouse position^W^W^Wfile association changes", yay, but that'd work.

Although I'd definitely hate it.

Does direct editing via regedit work as expected or does it also reset?

It will trigger a reset because you haven't updated the hash...

Which is bizarre if you consider that the original purpose of the registry (which appeared in Windows 3.1, I believe) was only to store file associations.

Yes, there are ways around that now.

One example: https://kolbi.cz/blog/2017/10/25/setuserfta-userchoice-hash-...

Looks like the beginning of another cat-and-mouse game... and if I'm reading that correctly, even if I open up regedit myself and edit the association like I am used to doing, if I don't update the hash appropriately it will make it turn to default? WTF.

The fact that his utility received AV false positives is also extremely disturbing --- what more effective a way of forcing your choices on others than to label all workarounds these others find as being malware? AV is like the ultimate in censorship.

Windows 10 is supposed to block both setting apps as default browser and pinning to taskbar. There are ways around both.

How often do you click on a link outside of the context of a browser? The default browser setting I think is almost irrelevant.

Email clients, irc clients, terminal, in emacs.

It happens all the time in Outlook.

Hum, clicking on links from emails. How that could possibly go wrong?

Try working in an enterprise. I click links from emails to Jira/Confluence/Sharepoint all the time from Outlook. Do I want to use any of these tools? No, but I and tens of thousands of other employees have to on a daily basis in my workplace.

The table of "Combined income of Mozilla Foundation and Mozilla Corporation" with "Proportion derived from Google" is good.


that's interesting, but it's several year outdated. is more up-to-date information available?

Mozilla probably have that info so readily available that it's not worth publishing it on Wikipedia as well, like on a postage stamp under a filing cabinet in a basement in their gran's next-door neighbour's house ...

Perhaps Moz Corp haven't heard of Wikipedia and so couldn't keep that page updated.

Sorry, I'm having a cynicism overload. Carry on.

The Mozilla Foundation, being a charity, publishes their financial data on a fixed schedule. If they put the last released data on Wikipedia, something forbidden by Wikipedia for them to do, it would show most of their money coming from Yahoo.

Wikipedia forbid companies from adding facts to tabular data?

You can't edit your own Wikipedia.

You can but there is a long procedure to prove you are not in COI and will contribute positively.

I was unaware of such a method, I change my statement from "forbidden by ..." to "heavily restricted by Wikipedia..." Thanks.

So... Mozilla is like a condom Google wears to frobnicate the internet.

When we are in the land of wishes, I rather wish, that OpenSource OS and software would be standard where the user controls fully what he wants and gets.

It would be so lovely, if Microsoft would include a default malware and advertisement filter into the browser. They are not relying on injecting malware into the web pages, so they actually can do it! User's experience without malware and advertisements will be better, this will create healthy competition in user experience, other browsers will have to follow.

Microsoft doesn't have to make tthe best browser, the inertia of having a "good" browser that is the default and hard to change away from gets many of their customers to use Edge until someone or something prompts them to switch.

It is my considered opinion that Microsoft does not care one iota about the user experience. I cite as proof pretty much everything about Windows 10.

"I'm tired of walking a parent through uninstalling Google Chrome"

Unchecky works well to prevent that crapware from ever getting installed. It unticks those default 'install my paid crap' offers.


“I wish Mozilla would include a default content blocker to block Google”


> When e.g. you look how aggressively Google is trying to switch me to Chrome from my Firefox on all of their properties, a new low was set.

I'm still feeling ashamed at Google every time I see they push an ad in my (or my colleagues) face asking me to "upgrade" my browser.

Hey ass-holes! It's not an upgrade. It's a switch! Stop being dishonest about it. Stop intentionally confusing users.

To be fair, some Firefox-to-Firefox upgrades have been more like switches.

They're on a six week release schedule. Some of them being underwhelming is expected. That's not a counterpoint, even though you're phrasing it like one.

> When e.g. you look how aggressively Google is trying to switch me to Chrome from my Firefox on all of their properties, a new low was set.

It proved very difficult to keep my mother on Firefox. Chrome kept getting installed, for awhile it was bundled with all sorts of application updates.

Dark patterns, dark patterns everywhere.

I remember installing some random utility (but safe source that I'd used umpteen times before - but not recently) and getting chromium installed - without my permission. I forget what is was, or indeed where I got it from, but this is fairly irrelevant.

The effort trying to remove this was immense. The crapware installer also managed to install a scheduled task to a randomly named executable that when I tested it with Microsoft security essentials said it was 'ok' but virus total told me it was some bag of shit malware.

WORSE STILL, Microsoft security essentials USED to pick this up as a quick google of this crapware update engine linked to a microsoft malware page, which no longer exists. Reading further I noted that MS stopped identifying some malware because "users might choose to use the applications that it installs"

No MS. If it's been sneakily installed with dark patterns consent has not been given, and it needs to be destroyed with fire.

Thankfully ClamAV picked it up, so I now regularly scan with that. sigh


> installing some random utility .. and getting chromium installed

If you mean Chrome proper (not OSS Chromium) SourceForge was doing this for a while and it was all over hackernews. Mostlikely that's where it was from.

I would really, really like to know what the source was, and the program (and thus installer) was.

I'd also like to see if the Web Archive has a copy of the microsoft malware webpage.

What you're saying would be 1000x as interesting/relevant/headline news if it was citable with screenshots and so forth. I do believe you, but references create lots more momentum.

If you think you might come across the info sometime in the future, posting it here or maybe reddit whenever that is would be awesome.

I'm pretty sure Adobe Reader, or CCleaner had that; I was a victim. IIRC it was after EU legislation that made default install of bundleware unlawful.


Suggests that CCleaner at least had it, didn't check Reader.

Good to know, I'm no longer going to be using Microsoft Security Essentials.

Makes you wonder how long it will be before software development drops below used car salesman and lawyer in public opinion.

> It proved very difficult to keep my mother on Firefox

Mine's on Debian. Seems to be working out pretty well. When other machines in the house are gunked up with who-knows-what, it's still there working reliably.

Genuine question: In what way does Microsoft benefit from people using Edge? It's a web browser. It's a rather neutral piece of technology. How can they make money out of it?

Make the default search engine bing.. most users don’t change it.

Put shortcuts to your other products. An Xbox bookmark/button is an ad for the Xbox.. increasing Xbox sales, but also reducing the money they need to spend to promote the Xbox

If users decide they want a completely Microsoft platform- they login to windows with their msft online password, use ms office, etc they’ll be more likely to pick a windows phone or other Microsoft products that integrate with the products they already use (saving them setup time, transferring settings, etc).

If they have more information about you, they can make ads in bing more relevant and perform better.. increasing the price of the ads, and the ctr

There are a few ideas off the top of my head.

You can still get Windows Phone-based devices?!

> In what way does Microsoft benefit from people using Edge?

Every installation of Chrome on Windows is an opportunity for their most dangerous competitor to siphon off future opportunities. Anything which reduces that number is a fundamental win.

They also get to direct some percentage of users towards their properties (e.g. Bing) which do make revenue.

Finally there's the opportunity cost of not being in the game: having users in their camp gives them moves which they would otherwise not have. (Similarly Bing—some might call it a relative failure, but it's a roaring success compared to never trying in the first place. It was a good decision.)

Two parts:

1) Information gathering. This one I think needs no explanation

2) Controlling a platform is incredible powerful in influencing your users. Lets say you control an OS. Then you can nag on your users to also use your browser! If you control the browser, you can nag your users to use you mail system. Perhaps someday they will nag on the users to use their marketplace, their movie distribution system, their whatever.

Adding to 2): Microsoft has tried to embrace / extend / extinguish the open web on more than one occasion.

They're nowhere near striking distance of making that happen; but you can bet your life that if they were, that they'd make a run at it.

Newsflash: nearly every major tech company that has a large Internet presence would like nothing more than to extinguish the open web and user choice. Unfortunately for users, ecosystem lock-in is in everyone’s play book.

And unfortunately for users, it’s wildly profitable.

The new tab page on Edge is full of ads.

All the other comments here are also true, but this is the main reason. They directly benefit every time you open Edge. I wouldn't be surprised if some ad sales VP made this decision after seeing the numbers broken down by "edge new tab impressions" vs "everything else."

The same could be said for operating systems, yet Windows 10 ships with lots of bloatware apps (Candy Crush...).

Also, a browser can track your browsing behavior, data that can be sold.

Does MS really sell data to anyone? Seems to me whatever data they collect would be used internally, e.g. to improve products.

One problem is that we have no idea with all that data they're able to collect through Windows.

I don't use Windows, but surely the GDPR means EU users have a right to know how their data is used and who it is passed to, and how they use it ... so for EU users that info should be public already?

This is an excellent answer to this question: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mviTS_cIWXg

Very interesting and informative video.

But it is a bit of a bait and switch, making a weird transition toward the very end into an advert for brilliant.org.

That fact doesn't negate the well-done informational portion, and brilliant.org sounds like a cool offering, but what a yucky tactic for such a high-ground video.

> Genuine question: In what way does Microsoft benefit from people using Edge? It's a web browser. It's a rather neutral piece of technology. How can they make money out of it?

Well for one thing, keeping people away from Google's browser keeps people away from their office suite, one of the biggest moneymakers outside the X-box division for Microsoft.

Bing is probably the default search engine.

> But from my insider buddies at Google, that strategy is working well.

Working well in what sense? Is the stated goal to do evil and highly imorral stuff and get away with it?

Maybe they are trying to make life on the PC so miserable that people will switch to android.

For me, Google has recently joined the ranks of FB and a pile of other adtech slimeballs and similar entities in my firewall config. The net is so much nicer when you delete the jerks.

Working well in the sense of "the amount of unwitting users switching is > the backlash and heat from being an dark pattern villain and turning some witting users off". Aka "helps browser marketshare".

Google does it with their apps too— clicking on links in Hangouts keeps prompting me to use Chrome instead of Safari. Honestly, I'm shocked Apple tolerates this.

If Microsoft really wants to go after Google they should install a default ad blocker into the operating system.

This is what all of that "telemetry" is really about: opportunities to control the user.

> With the anti-trust cases in the EU, they probably will be able to geo target this feature so that from the EU all will be fine and dandy

Windows tells me Edge is better when I install Firefox in the EU too.

Didn't they do stuff like this when they first made IE and it got them into a lot of trouble with an anti-trust lawsuit? Seems like they are doing the EXACT same thing again.

In threads about github etc, many were claiming Microsoft are a completely different, and better company, with a fine open approach to business these days.

Seems nothing much has changed in their approach in 30 years.

They've learned how to appeal to the easily-convinced crowd with all their "openness" and "modernity" (for lack of a better word.) They're opening up stuff that wasn't likely to be a source of revenue, and I bet they make even more from the non-obvious telemetry embedded in them. I see it as nothing more than another marketing attempt.

They've really done a number on these people, because not only are they using MS stuff again, but they've been turned into "New Microsoft" cheerleaders in many a comment thread, for a couple of years now.

In retrospect, I'm pretty sure that was astroturf.

The story of a how new, enlightened CEO was going to embrace open source, etc. was tailor-made for folks who want to believe they finally won over the last fight's great satan. The buzz seemed to be everywhere for a while, and then stopped. And it was timed conveniently around several open source releases that also made a splash - classic reenforcement advertising.

And it seems to have worked.

I was one of the cheerleaders ever since I learned about Scott Hanselman and others. The meta is that there are at least two camps about this at Microsoft.

This changed slowly over the last two years for me as I watch the dot net special interest group at Fedora struggle. Microsoft has not released enough of dot net core as free and open source software. It looks free and open source but it isn't. The programmers at red hat (almost all the dot net sig folks are red hat people) are too nice to raisea fuss over it.

I don't think Scott Guttrie's team is lying. I want to believe in their sincerety. However, I also understand likely nobody at Microsoft: from the bottom engineer to Satya Nadella or the board is nearly at all enthusiastic about free software. They may approve of "open source" but only as far as it helps business. I can't blame them for being practical. However, I can yell at their hypocrisy.

Microsoft, give the fedora people what they need. Release the sources please.

> Microsoft has not released enough of dot net core as free and open source software. It looks free and open source but it isn't.

Could you expand or do you have a link to the discussion? First I'm reading of this (but also haven't really looked into it).


What open source releases were these, and what tim{e,ing} was this?

Microsoft is a huge company. You’re going to see different reactions to Azure, VSCode, .NET, and their voice assistant/spyware program.

That's why pervasive "Does anyone else love the New Microsoft?!" style comments have seemed odd. People talking about how they like specific products is perfectly normal.

These days I assume by default the intentions of companies are not good (especially the big ones) but when I was younger, I used to think these companies play nice with others (generally speaking). I hate that I feel this way, but pretty much everything they do is towards one goal only - money and market share, everything and everyone else be damned :(

you know, there's a theory of this and I personally find it much more useful at explaining things than most other political/economic theories... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marxism

And with that system, you trade the owner (capitalist) with a different owner (government). The proletariat are still in pretty much the same position.

And there's also the issue of communism the economic system, and communism the social control system. Economically speaking, does have some justifications. But the social control is more than willing to kill and imprison people for disagreeing with the economic system.

Capitalism also has similar types of flaws, and its own directly related deaths it causes. The difference is that capitalism the social control system blames individuals for systemic issues, including death and injury.

Yes, the ownership merely changes hands.

The problem is not mere ownership though. Who owns it matters, because different owners have different incentives.

The incentive of a private business owner is profit. Especially for a company that is publicly traded, where investors have the power to sue management for malfeasance if they don't get a return and the company has been particularly charitable. If it can be done, you must fuck over the customer to make profit for shareholders, or be replaced by someone who will.

The incentive of a nationalized industry is the good of the state and its voters. Management is incentivized to provide a good product at a fair price to everyone, or else they get voted out of their job.

ownership by "government" is not the same as ownership by the working class (which includes you unless you are very wealthy). part of the point of socialism is much more democratic control of government anyway.

>And with that system, you trade the owner (capitalist) with a different owner (government).

you're mistaking the economic law "Marxism" explaining why and how that stuff is happening for the actual political forces who advocate and force such a change. It like Newton's laws and the actual people shooting the guns which are working based on the Newton's laws.

Ah yes, this comment was bound to appear. As it always does when we find out that the people running Windows do something that's not a good idea.

They are more open with their development division, as they have to be. Windows is a completely different division, and more often than not, the notable members of the development division will call out their company.

Except they are not separate divisions. There are no subsidiary companies for Windows or Development, yet there are for Xbox, Mobile, Games and others.

Windows and development are subject to the same executive team, and same orders from the top setting corporate direction.

It was precisely that break-up that was ordered by the US court during the anti-trust case, and stopped with the arrival of the Bush administration.

Eventually all divisions roll up to the same executive team. The level at which Windows and the people responsible for this decision meet is far above where the decision is or was made.

Mobile and XBOX aren't subsidiary companies. Mobile rolls up closer to Windows than the browser team does which led to the mess that is UWP and the Windows 8 (and on) start menu.

Sorry, your comment is inaccurate.

I find I don't really care how Microsoft likes to divide up its stuff internally. Either this kind of nonsense is supported by the company or it isn't.

Good for you if this stance helps you. But ultimately the world is more complex.

Do you judge a given country population by the act of their leader? Because you have no reason to care how a given country divide its stuff. If a country does something that must mean that everyone in this country support this thing right?

You've got the analogy backwards:

If people act malevolently, encouraged by the leader of the country, then that leader is bad, and the country is bad because of that leader (and their associates who could stop the malevolence).

It doesn't matter that in some small corner of the country there's a grandad baking cupcakes for orphans, the country isn't saved from the malevolence (or ignorance) of their leaders by that.

You can give countries aid to convince them you're nice; but if your leadership is countenancing selling armaments to the Saudis -- knowing they're using them against civilians -- then they're corrupt.

All companies who want to do some evil for profit also take part in window dressing, it salves their own consciences and acts as PR.

Countries do not get to choose who their citizens are (and the ones we do are generally considered hellholes). But companies have the power to set policy, and the power to hire and fire. So yeah, I get to judge the company by what its parts repeatedly do.

Maybe we should stop evaluating companies like we evaluate people.

Companies are just people though - the guys in charge of decisions are the ones we're ultimately evaluating. That the left hand of the company doesn't know what the right hand of the company is doing isn't much of an excuse, as ultimately the buck stops at the executive and board positions.

There's no way a decision like this one didn't get approval from the top layers of the company as it no doubt had to go through different levels of legal, product and everything in between.

On the side, I've owned some chain restaurants for 32 years. Mine have always been noted as friendlier, cleaner, fresher and all that. I like to say that it's cause it runs downhill and I care about the customer experience.

Three years ago, I sold one of those restaurants inside a mall while still owning one just two blocks away. People from the mall come into this restaurant. Just yesterday someone told me that they hated the mall one. "They're just so mean to everyone!"

They did not know I was the owner.

> Companies are just people though

Eh, this is like saying that people are just collections of cells. It doesn't tell you much about the high-level behavior observed.

I don't think that's necessarily true. The binary line at which we judge objects begins with the concept of sentience/self-awareness. If our cells work to do something bad, we can't blame them - they aren't sentient. If people work to do something bad, we can and have always judged the group - they are sentient and are capable of making decisions within a moral framework.

There are group effects for groups of people, just as there are effects that organised groups of cells have that collections of cells do not.

If someone hands you a cupcake and punches you in the face with the other hand then you don't think that the two actions are from separate "organisations" of cells (maybe, in cases of schizophrenia, or similar).

People in an organisation often lack agency to fully control actions based on their personal ethics. This is often exploited by controlling influences.

if the cells are sick, the person is sick. you don't just say you have a little cancer but on the whole you're chilling and are ready to goto the beach

They are legally people under the broken legal system of America. I will treat their crimes, their lack of morality, their low ethics, and their sociopathy the same as a human as long as they are "people".

It’s not much better in the EU today. Do you argue that users were pushing for this: https://www.theverge.com/2018/9/12/17849868/eu-internet-copy...

They have less rights e.g. no freedom to be represented in parliament, no imprisonment; hence a legal entity is still different than a natural person.

Big companies employ a lot of people who can do both good things and bad things. Many teams and projects have nothing to do with each other. Treating a large organization as a single person for moral purposes is a category mistake.

It's entirely possible for Microsoft to do bad things like this while GitHub keeps doing its thing and Typescript and VSCode developers keep doing their thing.

With a company the size of Microsoft, I am certain that there are different factions/divisions/groups within the company that might have very different values, views, priorities, to the degree that they might as well be different companies.

A better point of view might be this: Microsoft is a huge company, not all the people that work there are (what we might consider) ethical engineers, and some of the adherents to the sleazy business practices of their past are still around.

It’s not a good reason, but it’s possibly the reason. Ultimately it’s not really useful to attempt to paint an entity as large as Microsoft as all good or all bad.

They are as open as Intel, AMD, ARM, Google, Apple and IBM, the beloved ones from FOSS.

> the beloved ones from FOSS.

I don't recall these being "beloved". This sounds like a troll to me.

Sure Intel do FOSS graphics driver development, but I doubt they've ever been beloved due to their constant scandals (ME and Meltdown recently, and further back there's ClassMate, Itanium/Itanic, etc.)

AMD promised open drivers. We're still waiting.

ARM systems are usually locked down and full of blobs (e.g. for graphics, etc.). Plus ARM don't make chips, they just sell licenses to their designs to third parties, which is completely anti-FOSS.

Google do support a lot of FOSS development, but their online monopolies and spying infrastructure have always kept people suspicious.

Apple has a habit of turning liberally licensed FOSS into proprietary software (e.g. OSX is based on Mach and BSD, Safari is based on KHTML, etc.). Their mobile OS also requires programs to be signed, and they charge a $99 fee for developers to get a certificate.

As far as I'm aware IBM have historically been the enemy. They certainly pushed Linux forward around the millenium, but since then I've not come across them outside bloated "enterprise solutions" that I doubt many in the FOSS world would consider relevant.

> AMD promised open drivers. We're still waiting.

No, we aren't. AMD's promise was fulfilled quite a while ago. They officially contributed, and work on, a FOSS driver for the Linux kernel, and also for Mesa. One of their devs is one of the most active Mesa committers this year alone.

AMD are more committed than Intel is, it would seem, given that AMD's drivers are far better quality than Intel's.

I'm happy to be corrected; for the record I searched for this before posting, and found things like https://linuxconfig.org/how-to-install-the-latest-amd-radeon... which are very recent and talk about installing AMD proprietary drivers.

(I haven't been tracking this closely since I've avoid NVidia and ATI (hence AMD) graphics for about 15 years, due to their driver blobs)

> AMD promised open drivers. We're still waiting.


There you go.

Exactly, however everyone jumps of joy in a "us vs Microsoft" when they release something for FOSS.

ARM is an open company? When did that happen? They still don't provide architecture reference manuals for download (unless you are customer), unlike AMD or Intel.

I can download a 6000 page PDF that seems to be what you want for the low low price of registering my email address

Their GPUs are much more closed though.

So are everyone's (not that it makes things much better)

Intel and AMD GPUs are nicely documented nowadays.

Oh, it's just an email address now? Good to know, thanks.

Nice username.

"A man is not dead while his name is still spoken."

GNU Terry Pratchett

The funny thing is IBM might be the most open in this list.

They are doing very well about being open in the developers space.

Open sourcing libraries and tools that make the lives of programmers much easier and even porting them to run on linux.

This may be a selfish approach approach from Microsoft (win the hearts of developers and the regular users will follow), or it might be signs of actual positive change.

The one thing that is clear is this openness does not extend to regular users of windows.

I'm mentally making notes that I should really be switching back to linux for my core desktop computing, even if I continue to use Microsoft technology like vscode, typescript and dotnet core.

The world around Microsoft has changed though. Yea, they are still the same company even with their strategic realignment around open-source, but now they face healthy competition from arguably worse (at least just as bad) tech giants that makes Microsoft seem more benign.

Every now and then I hear some PR spiel or read some comment on HN about how great Windows is now and I try to run it, but I always run into some dumb thing like this that turns me off.

I think what has changed is that Microsoft is no longer the massively dominant force it was pre-Internet. In those days, it really was the 1,000lb gorilla. It is still a big company, but Google at least can certainly compete with it as an equal.

> Seems nothing much has changed in their approach in 30 years.

Well, their PR department changed a lot, so they can keep the same old tactics while having people think they're the good guys now.

This annoys me, but in the end, I can click the "no thank you" button and it all goes away. I do think their claims to be the "faster and more secure" browser are dubious at best. But at least MS allows other browsers to be installed. iOS will give you a Chrome lookalike with a WebKitWebView engine, and no v8 JS engine. (I'm not calling JSCore bad). It's like saying, you can have any browser you want, as long as it's Safari. I get _why_ they do it, but it's an anti-competitive practice.

It feels like you're giving Google's ChromeOS a pass here.

You can install run Android apps on many Chromebooks now, so you can install Firefox if you want: https://www.techrepublic.com/article/how-to-run-firefox-quan...

You can also install linux or on some even windows if you want

More like I don't truly consider ChromeOS a viable OS. I do own a Chromebook, and for me it's more like a dumbed down tablet (Like a Nook) with a keyboard. But you're right, it's not right that Google does it either.

It may actually be faster and more secure, it does well on artificial tests at least. But my issue with it is generally stability. More crashes and some sites don't behave as well. Video streaming in particular is iffy. Since Chrome is most tested against now, I just have the most stable overall experience with Chrome. Even if it had the worst performance I'd probably still be using it for that reason.

I didn't know that on iOS chrome is essentially safari. that sucks. like how can they get away with it? The EU should not let apple ban competing browser engines.

It will always be faster in Windows. When you're running IE, you're running IE. But when you're running Firefox, you're running Firefox + IE :-D

What? Howso? Firefox doesn't piggy back on edge/ie.

Well, you know, up until recently (don't know if still is) IE was a core part of the operating system, not just the browser itself. That meant that using IE alone will have for example less battery usage than using Firefox, or any other browser, "alone", as you would be running IE too.

Uh, theres no reason for IE to use less battery because it's 'part of the OS'. In the end, IE still has to do all the tasks to render a webpage which Firefox or Chrome have to do. It might be able to leverage some fancy hidden OS features to be slightly more efficient/use the hardware better in some way, but fundamentally it doesn't have much of an advantage.

I think you got me wrong. What I meant was that, when you're browsing the web with IE, it is IE which is draining your battery. However, when you're using Firefox, it's not only Firefox who drains your battery, but also this always-running IE process. My comment was mostly a joke, I don't know to what extent this might be a thing.

Good to see the new trustworthy Microsoft in action.

Coming soon: github.com "best viewed in Edge".

Like Google is doing on YouTube and their main site? What you'll say if GitHub loading times are 5x faster on Edge than on Chrome and Firefox [1]?

I don't want to be Microsoft apologist, but Google is doing this shit for years, and nobody says anything. One annoying popup in Windows and the end is near. Yeah, because we don't trust MS for things they did ten years ago. But we trust Google even if they're doing the same thing right now.

[1] https://twitter.com/cpeterso/status/1021626510296285185

It gets worse.

Google Hangouts Meet doesn't work in anything but Chrome.

Meet works fine in Firefox nowadays.

That's changed recently o-o


With Firefox 60, actually.

So it works even with the current ESR.

But was that on purpose or only incidentally?

On purpose; remember they whitelist UAs. Hangouts and Meet both supporting Firefox now was a deliberate move, enabled by Hangouts/Meet moving to the current WebRTC draft protocol (versus some much older one) and by Firefox introducing supports for some further JS APIs to monitor the WebRTC connection.

I'm not so certain.

About a month ago, on a fully-updated Firefox, one of those (I forget if Hangouts or Meet) refused to start for me, saying Firefox was not supported.

Even now, every time I'm in a Hangout, it'll work on Firefox, then after exiting it redirects to a page that says Firefox isn't supported.

It's like the user-agent check was switched with something less reliable.

Better, they might end up blocking other user agents, or give specific features you can only use with Edge. They love doing that.

They'll be in good company with Google who's pushed their browser in similar ways for years.

I don't think they'll end up doing that for the same reason that Google didn't put the Dart VM in Chrome. Nobody wants to be the one to start the nuclear war.

Google has done this before. When they blocked Hangouts in non-Chrome browsers, spoofing your User Agent would allow it to load and, probably predictably since I'm making this comment, Hangouts worked absolutely fine in Firefox. Not sure if it still works these days, but I don't use Hangouts anymore.

There's also the whole Shadow DOM v0 stuff with YouTube that more or less artificially slows down rendering in non-Chrome browsers.

Google is just more subtle about it.

I have never had this problem with Hangouts in Firefox. Hangouts has a million bugs on its own, but it works similarly poorly in Chrome and Firefox and has for a long time as far as I can tell.

Hangouts / Chat don't work in Safari now, only Chrome

Some features on Google services don't work on non-Chrome browsers. Others, like earth.google.com, don't work at all.

At least earth.google.com is built by google.

Use Bing 3 times a day for 21 days in a row and earn credits for Xbox games ... that'd work.

So users who only run Linux will get the shaft.

I think my head might explode if I ever see that in reality.

They already don't support IE anymore and require an up to date TLS connection, meaning old browsers can't connect.

Apple do it too: if you run Firefox or Chrome on a new macOS install a notification appears trying to sell you on the idea of Safari.

Let's talk about how with iOS you can't change the default web browser, email, or calendar apps? If you remove Mail.app, install something like Airmail, and then click on a mail link, you're prompted to reinstall Mail.app.

I don't like this move by Microsoft, but they called out on shit like this more than other tech companies it seems.

For comparison, my Pixelbook lets me switch the default browser from Chrome to the Android version of Firefox. Considering that Chrome is basically the operating system itself, that's impressive.

> to the Android version of Firefox

Out of curiousity, how well does that work on a bigger screen like that?

I recently installed the Android version of Firefox on my Essential Phone and find it pretty snappy and nice to use.

It works reasonably well, and will expand to a vageuly-desktop-like look and feel (tabs on top, for example) automatically on tablets (or in this case laptop/tablet hybrids).

It doesn't integrate quite perfectly with ChromeOS, but that's not surprising. Supposedly Pixelbooks have built-in support for running normal Linux apps, so I might end up trying the desktop version of Firefox at some point.

The alternate browsers allowed on iOS are really just wrappers for their engine. You can’t really have an alternate browser in Apple ‘s iOS

Sort of true. You can swap out the network stack (and Chrome does).

One slight pro of it is that at least Chrome doesn't have 80% of mobile traffic as well due to iOS users being unable to switch default browser. I mean, that's the only pro.

Shouldnt we call a spade a spade? If what Microsoft is doing is scummy, then what Apple is doing is scummy as well.

Maybe it has to do with the fact that iOS never gave you that control while Windows is trying to take that control away.

iOS never gave you the control, Windows still gives you the control but wants to influence your decision.

Sure, but things are improving on that front. For example, they used to do the same thing with maps. Recently though they changed it so clicking on a map link asks you which map software you want to open it in.

That’s a solvable problem, if anyone cared enough to solve it. Write a 3rd party browser (yes I realize that it would be a shell over WebKit) and allow the user to choose which app handles third party urls like mailto and maps links.

Chrome for iOS already does something similar but you only get to choose between gmail and the native mail client.

This would only solve the problem of clicking mailto: links in one particular app (the custom browser), but it wouldn't help for all the other 999.999 apps that try to openURL a mailto:

You really do not know how this works on Android, do you?

Yes I do. But we weren't talking about Android.....

Ubuntu doesn't mind at all if I change my browser. It even offers several different browsers in its package manager.

Oh, and it doesn't spy on me.

To be fair, Ubuntu does send usage data to Canonical, unlike some other distros. Whether or not that counts as "spying" to you is another question.

They only collect data of the installation process. Once installation is complete, no additional data is collected. They've even publicly released the results.

>The collected data is not-personally-identifiable. Meaning that a user cannot be singled out or tracked based on the data he/she provided. Here’s what Ubuntu collects

> Version and flavor of Ubuntu you’re installing

> Whether you have network connectivity at install time

> Hardware statistics such as CPU, RAM, GPU, etc

> Device manufacturer

> Country

> Installation time

> Whether you choose auto login, installing third-party codecs, downloading updates during install

> Disk layout


Do they not also run popularity-contest to collect installation data on packages like Debian did? Or did they get rid of that?

Debian's popularity contest is opt-in (not even installed unless you request it), and AFAIK has always been this way.

No. We don't.

You can disable that very easily. And as far as I remember when I upgraded to Ubuntu 18.04 on my VM, it asked me whether I was ok with sending anonymous usage data (I believe the default choice was yes which is not ideal but was easy enough to turn off).

Even if you answer No, it will ping to their servers so that it can count users that did not want it. At least Canonical are honest about it and I'm sure you could at least prevent it with your firewall settings or maybe even by editing the hosts file.

This was my experience as well. That and the new "minimal install" option both jumped out at my when I set up my latest dev box.

I thought it asks you to opt-in when you install?

It asks you if you want to opt-out the default is enabled.

No, its opt out, default is yes.

Ah, lazy people like me dont even read... guess thats what theyre counting on.

> Oh and it doesn't spy on me

Hope you uninstalled all the extra bundled stuff from Amazon and friends.

>all the extra bundled stuff from Amazon

Ubuntu comes with a shortcut to Amazon on the sidebar. Clicking it just opens Amazon.com in Firefox. It doesn't spy on you or anything, it's just a hyperlink.

>and friends

Such as?

> It doesn't spy on you or anything, it's just a hyperlink. You are incorrect. It's much more than a hyperlink. It's an application which was installed in Ubuntu. It specifically runs:

  unity-webapps-runner --amazon --app-id=ubuntu-amazon-default
The unity webapps runner manual says (among other things):

  Application Options:
    -a, --amazon                    Launch amazon (with geoclue store selection)
    -i, --app-id                    Launch a webapp with a specific APP_ID
    -c, --chrome                    Launch a webapp in default browser
Look at that. Amazon and Google. The --amazon switch tells amazon where you're at ("geoclue"), at the very least. And, Chrome being the "default" browser? That's funny, because Chrome isn't even installed.

So, that webapp also runs

Guess what that script does? If you even accidentally click the Amazon "hyperlink", you've now associated the _machine_ to a user.

Okay, ignore that. What else is default installed as webapps? Looking around the

  /usr/share/unity-webapps directory shows only Google and Amazon.
> Such as? In Ubuntu 16.04, the "Search your computer" will also search "sources" such as "Applications", "Dash plugins", "Files & Folders", "Google Drive".

Dash plugins include things like Facebook and Google Drive (again?)

At least the search bar has more applications than just the proprietary garbage. There's things like Flickr, Shotwell, Yelp, Picasa... hmmm.

I'm not a fan of that either, nor do I use Ubuntu (for other reasons).

However, in what.. 10 mins? you've been able to discover exactly what causes the "spying" and an idea on how to disable it. Perhaps in less than an hour you'll have a good idea on exactly what data is being sent.

Compare that to say, Windows, there we have no idea on exactly what data is being sent out or how to completely disable it (beyond being a company with volume licences or using firewall rules).

It doesn't compromise the users privacy in any meaningful way. Back in version 12.04 there was a scandal wherein searches on the desktop could return remote results from Amazon. Canonical countered that all data was going through them and no personal info was leaked but nobody actually wanted to see ads in their desktop search or share data about their files with Canonical thus this was changed in 14.04 or 14.10 if I recall correctly.

Essentially this hasn't been an issue in about 4 years.

> It doesn't compromise the users privacy in any meaningful way.

I would have to disagree. The mere fact that it's there and visible by default means it can be accidentally clicked on. Doing that opens a native application which loads an Amazon-provided javascript file. Cards are off the table after that loads.

> However, in what.. 10 mins? you've been able to discover exactly what causes the "spying" and an idea on how to disable it.

True, but that's only because I've been using the OS for a while. A lot of this is accumulated knowledge. There were a lot of gotchyas over the past 4.5 years (approx time I've been using Ubuntu .. coincides with my current employment time) that have been... eye opening.

Yes, it's still better than Windows as far as inspectability for the reasons you just identified. And it's still better than OS X as far as usability (my opinion). But it's still be very disappointing on many levels. I'm sure there are other things which could cause additional disappointments in Canonical that I have yet to discover.

Honestly I use Fedora at home. Even that isn't ideal -- I very much dislike the default GNOME environment and have repeatedly encountered trouble upgrading to different releases. I've been seriously thinking of just building my own personal distro.

Does 18.04 do that?

18.04 just ships with a hyperlink to Amazon in the sidebar. It does not come with the controversial "Amazon shopping lens" from a few years ago.

I doubt it's "just" a hyperlink. See my other comment in this thread: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17971394

I'd have to download the 18.04 ISO to check, which is currently unfeasible at this moment.

I'm running the 18.10 Alpha and it was still included, yes. Thankfully it's very easy to remove these days.

Pity that 18.04 is basically a steaming turd, with plenty of broken things ootb. It's hardly surprising, because "you get what you pay for", and you pay exactly zero for it. Don't get me wrong, Linux purely from the command line is awesome, but the desktop experience sucks balls.

I feel like I'm getting a better experience for free than any that I paid for with Windows.

You get what you paid for is what ignorant people say about software. The entire software landscape is absolutely littered with very very expensive turds. Cost and quality don't seem to be terribly correlated.

> 18.04 is a steaming turd [...] the desktop experience sucks balls.

Based on your vocabulary, I'm assuming you don't install Ubuntu using the network installer and expert mode, and then create your own desktop environment starting with a good window manager like i3. A person like you is definitely better off using macOS or Windows.

> A person like you is definitely better off using macOS or Windows.

I'm not necessarily going to disagree with this - I switched from desktop Ubuntu to Mac and have hardly looked back because I really don't miss constantly dicking around with config files playing UI glitch whack-a-mole. Mac UI certainly has its own healthy share of warts - in fact I find it practically unusable without Divvy and Moom, for starters - but on the whole it's polished, functional, aesthetically pleasing, and usually doesn't get in the way of doing work. Those are all very important qualities to me as someone who spends a non-trivial amount of time doing things outside of a terminal.

Just because I'm capable of rolling my own desktop environment doesn't mean I want to or that it's a particularly good use of my time, and I imagine a lot of potential/would-be Linux users probably feel the same way. Being dismissive of that perspective is counterproductive if you believe that the world would be better off with more FOSS usage (as I do).

You could probably buy a laptop that comes with Linux. Set it to update on some regular schedule. Install whatever tools make you happy and have as little trouble as your mac.

"Rolling your own desktop environment" takes all of a few hours. I'm pretty sure you made as much of an investment learning tools for your new mac when you bought it.

I used Linux for a good number of years more than I've been using Mac. None of the things you are describing are as simple and hassle-free as you describe. You can get most things working smoothly enough with customization, but there is a baseline level of UI glitchiness in most distros that is very difficult, if not impossible, to overcome completely. It's not necessarily terrible but by comparison Mac is more psychologically ergonomic for me personally.

If you have supported hardware which logically includes hardware that the OEM sells with linux it actually honestly is that easy.

i3 + nixos + the same desktop follows with all my machines. With a simple declarative configuration. Nothing changes, nothing breaks. Emacs + st + firefox and all the programming languages just work.

Nope, I've got more important things to do than waste time on a near vertical learning curve. Apologies for not being a l33t h4x0r like you, but the situation is dire for ootb desktop Linux, which is a shame.

Hmm, how/when does that trigger? Right after reading this comment I started a screen recording in hopes of capturing the behaviour then installed Chrome and Firefox downloaded via Safari on a new Mac recently set up from scratch and saw no such notification.

Looks like it was something with Yosemite 4 years ago.


Much less invasive than what this is doing but still pretty disappointing.

Seems like linux is the clear choice for now given the corporate behavior of MS and Apple.

Linux was always the clear choice if you cared more about control over the machine than other factors.

Only if you care about these minor annoyances more than the major ones offered by the Linux Desktop.

I'd wager there are plenty of Linux Desktop users that feel that the inverse of annoyances are true, including myself.

Assuredly, but that doesn't mean the opposite perspective isn't a legitimate one.

I agree with you there. For the general population, be it family, grandma, or individuals that tend to operate outside the mindset of the general audience here, the learning curve is going to be a bit steeper if you were to put Ubuntu in front of them. However, every one of their newer releases has made strides in terms of ease of use and stability. Personally I think https://snapcraft.io/ lifts a HUGE burden off making popular software available to a non power user who might be new to linux.

I couldn't disagree more. Linux is fine for the kind of people who only use computers to consume content, but then again any personal web kiosk (like a phone or tablet) can easily serve that role so it isn't exactly a high bar.

The real problem areas are when people who want a personal computer try to color outside the lines of whatever the distro developer intended as a use case ("Why would you want to do that?" is a common and annoying response).

> "Why would you want to do that?"

I don't remember a Linus Torvalds say "you're not supposed to hold it this way" to anyone. Instead, …

Unless you want a stable infrastructure to keep binary drivers compatible with newer versions of Linux....

He would probably use a lot more profanity.

Right, except my Windows 98 drivers don't work with Windows 10 either... What's the point?

The point is that your Windows 10 drivers from a year ago still work with the Windows 10 update you did today. This is not true of Linux driver binaries.

Yes, but that's also the reason why Linux has as much hardware support out of the box: because it forces drivers to be developed in-tree.

Windows doesn’t actually come with a dirth of drivers out of the box and it keeps backward compatibility with drivers longer.

I'm okay with directing "why would you want to do that?" at people that want to deliver binary drivers to their customers, since that makes them a lot harder to fix later.

But unless it's a gnome dev speaking, I don't think it's something commonly aimed at users.

> Linux is fine for the kind of people who only use computers to consume content

Consuming content these days often involves DRM, which rarely works on Linux. For example, if the context is books, good luck dealing with Adobe or Amazon DRM to read them on your Linux desktop (you can strip it, but it's a lot more technical than just clicking and opening it on Windows or Mac).

Or how about music? How do you sync your iPhone with your Linux desktop?

Consuming content consists of either connecting to services like Hulu Spotify Netflix Pandora or opening your favorite pirate site and downloading torrents to be consumed in any multimedia app.

Both strategies work fine under linux. Did you not know that Netflix and Hulu work on linux just fine?

Regarding iPhones I would imagine most people who run linux on the desktop just don't bother buying them. Did you know that Apple's global marketshare is only about 15%? More people actually buy just Samsung's android phones than iphones.

This is cherry picking. Yes, there are some services that work on Linux. There are many other popular services that do not, and I even gave specific examples.

Most people who run Linux on the desktop probably won't use iPhones, yeah. Which is because they're computer geeks. Which is to say, not the "kind of people who only use computers to consume content" at all.

In US, iOS market share is about 45% as of 2018. Globally, it's 20% (15% is counting smartphones only and ignoring tablets).

> Which is because they're computer geeks.

I'm not sure that's necessarily the reason to choose Android over iOS. Many use Linux on desktop because it is good enough or better than other choices, but might be ambivalent towards or disapproving of stock android. Android has its flaws and is far from being strictly better than iOS.

You admit that globally 4/5 people don't use iphones which means that most people don't have any need for itunes.

Which services don't work on linux other than itunes?

I literally spelled it out in my initial comment.

> For example, if the context is books, good luck dealing with Adobe or Amazon DRM to read them on your Linux desktop

You can read amazon drm encumbered books with amazon cloud reader. You can run adobe digital editions via wine.

You can also read your ebooks on your nook, kindle, or tablet which would probably actually be a better experience.

You can buy dead tree books.

You can buy non drm encumbered books.

You can buy dead tree books and then go and download a digital version of the same work from library genesis knowing that you have supported the author but not drm. Then you can read on whatever device you like.

If you are poor you can skip the first step and just read the books.

Your local library still exists and is positively full of books.

Many libraries provide free access to technology books via Safari Books.

The claim that you can't enjoy books without windows is a curious claim when so many options exist.

"The real problem areas are when people who want a personal computer try to color outside the lines of whatever the distro developer intended as a use case ("Why would you want to do that?" is a common and annoying response)."

Pick something other than gnome?

to be honest, put grandma in a XFCE distro with Windows 7/XP-like desktop and Chrome and she should be comfortable with anything.

Like Linux Lite distro[0], I'm running it right now and except for the inability of using super/windows key as part of multi-key shortcuts ala Windows 7, it's almost perfect as a drop-in replacement for the latter (for me personally and a couple of my friends)...

[0] https://www.linuxliteos.com/

> to be honest, put grandma in a XFCE distro with Windows 7/XP-like desktop and Chrome and she should be comfortable with anything.

I did this awhile back. Grandma got upset that her library of Windows games, some of which she had been playing for over 15 years, weren't around anymore.

As more and more stuff has moved online, this is less of a problem, but my mother is still reliant upon Flash for certain online games.

Also those online experiences are, in general, inferior. They have lots of ads and pop-ups abound. The web pages are made as confusing as possible to try to entice viewers to click through to a "partner" and sign up for some service, etc etc.

Comparatively, the old Wheel of Fortune game my Grandma got 15 or more years ago (on a physical CD!) is better than anything available now.

Ha, that's what would happen with my dad. All he gives a crap about is his chess game. Hell, just moving to a new laptop with the latest version of Windows screwed up his access to that game for a bit and he had a meltdown.

If he weren't a grouchy old 85 year old man, not too receptive to fancy new technology, I'd buy him an iPad, put a nice chess game on it, and confiscate the PC.

> I'd buy him an iPad, put a nice chess game on it, and confiscate the PC.

Yeah but then a few updates later the chess game adds IAP and starts showing deceptive ads every 5 moves.


Snap/Snapcraft is a perfect example of the pain points Linux ecosystem, because Snap and Flatpak are two different solutions to the same problem. What do you tell grandma if a Flatpak version of her application exists, but not a Snap one?

I've migrated multiple family members to Linux, and I've never had a single one ask how to install an apt. I just make sure all the applications they need (Libre office & Firefox mostly) are installed. This type of user isn't installing things on a regular basis, even on a windows machine.

IMO the real pain points are for more advanced users, I prefer to develop on a Linux box but I have always had to keep a windows installation maintained just for mech CAD software, there simply isn't anything decent avaliable for Linux.

What are the major annoyances offered by "the Linux Desktop"? That I have too many choices and what a headache it is to have to choose a working environment rather than have some particular paradigm forced upon me?

I've recently (tried) helping a friend install Ubuntu on her laptop.

Although it worked fine for my Desktop computer, I ran into numerous issues on hers:

- Touchpad didn't work

- After fixed touchpad, physical touchpad buttons still don't work

- Wifi doesn't work

- Wifi hotspot doesn't work

- Lack of gestures

And others that I can't remember off the top of my head.

What model was it? Most manufacturers only test their hardware on Windows. Canonical maintains a list of devices that are certified to work with Ubuntu[1].

[1] https://certification.ubuntu.com/desktop/

Be careful about trusting that certification. Note that the 3rd gen Thinkpad x1 Yoga[0] is "certified," however, there is a critical change in the BIOS that prevents the laptop from using s3 sleep mode, apparently to switch to some proprietary Windows sleep mode. Therefore, without any changes, when you close the lid, your battery will drain at about the same speed as if the laptop was running. This is obviously untenable.

The solution is to manually patch your BIOS, which doesn't always work and is extremely technical. It's also not a solution provided by Lenovo, so officially, there is no solution.

Ninjaedit: Hmm, it appears Lenovo may have finally issued a BIOS update to fix this issue.



I think the certification means, that all the hardware parts of the device are supported by the OS. The device itself might not even be tested to see if there are no other issues. Generally, it's a problem with newly released devices, that don't have many active users yet.

Sounds similar to my recent experience with Windows 10 - some of those things were fixed by manually installing vendor drivers, but one of them didn't work and figuring out why was a big challenge. On the same machine, GNU/Linux worked pretty much out of the box, you just had to configure the hidpi screen and install a daemon for automatic screen rotation (which was also something I couldn't get to work on Windows after a fresh installation).

> What are the major annoyances offered by "the Linux Desktop"?

Spend about 5 minutes poking around on the internet with your eyes open and you'll see. If you're too lazy for that, this guy has put together a convenient, but by no means complete, list [0].

> rather than have some particular paradigm forced upon me?

You have many paradigms forced upon you, they're just paradigms you happen to be comfortable with so you don't count them.

[0] https://itvision.altervista.org/why.linux.is.not.ready.for.t...

> Spend about 5 minutes poking around on the internet with your eyes open and you'll see. If you're too lazy for that, this guy has put together a convenient, but by no means complete, list.

Why don't you just say what they are, rather than trying to offload and displace the question?

> You have many paradigms forced upon you, they're just paradigms you happen to be comfortable with so you don't count them.

Such as what? Monolithic kernel vs microkernel? What paradigm is forced upon me?

> Such a Linux Desktop evangelist comment chain. Step one: ask what problems people are talking about. Step two: completely dismiss and downvote all responses.

Except what problems have you pointed out? You're just hand-waving and saying "Oh course the Linux Desktop is unusable. Just at random webpages - that proves it!"

> Why don't you just say what they are, rather than trying to offload and displace the question?

You asked for examples of problems, so I provide a link to a well put together list of common Linux Desktop problems.

Ok, well you can also search online to see why you're then too.

> Ok, well you can also search online to see why you're then too.

What does that even mean?


> Why don't you try it instead of sealioning on HN about it.

I'll probably try searching for "sealioning" first.

> the Linux desktop UX

which is the Linux desktop UX? We're not talking about Windows Aero or Apple Aqua. There is no "Linux desktop UX". If you're thinking of Gnome in particular, I'd agree with you though, but there are lots of other viable choices.


Let's boil it down to the things that actually affect users: it's all about software.

- Major vendors don't support Linux.

- Installing software that's newer than what is provided by your distribution is difficult.

- Installing software that's outside your distribution's channels is difficult.

- Drivers installed outside the kernel are unstable.

"Oh look, my video broke again because a kernel update isn't compatible with my drivers."

"What do you mean my keyboard isn't supported?"

"Why does my battery only last two hours now?"

"Oh, this software is only available from source because the maintainer doesn't bother to release packages for my distro."

"Oh, that's a bug in version X.1, but we patched that 9 versions ago. Why are you still using that?" "I have Debian." "Oh."

conversely: "LOL, my media player broke because @HARDCORE_DISTRO released an alpha package as an update and now sound doesn't work."

On the other hand, I've never had my Linux desktop crash for decompressing a big ZIP archive. Of course, credit where credit is due, Explorer crashing isn't necessarily all that dramatic these days.

The funny thing is, even when decompression "works" on Windows 10 (that is, when you join hands in prayer and don't disturb the machine), you could theoretically just download the decompressed files faster over the internet. I can only guess the there's something fundamentally broken about Windows and file systems because many operations are so ridiculously slow no matter the hardware. It's perhaps my biggest gripe about modern Windows, aside from the actual desktop (working with multiple windows) being very bare and annoying to use, useless set of default applications, and that the built-in localized keyboard layout is obsolete and thus quite restricted as far as punctuation goes.

> On the other hand, I've never had my Linux desktop crash for decompressing a big ZIP archive.

Yeah but I have, on multiple occasions, installed updates through a Linux package manager and after a reboot been brought to the console.

> I can only guess the there's something fundamentally broken about Windows and file systems because many operations are so ridiculously slow no matter the hardware.

NTFS is bad handling a large number of small files.

> aside from the actual desktop (working with multiple windows) being very bare and annoying to use,

How so? I love the hotkeys for snapping Windows, and Windows also has hotkeys for moving windows between monitors.

Lots of third party utility apps exist that can extend this functionality out.

I haven't had any of those problems in the last decade.

I have, however, spent a whole day trying to install Windows 10 because of obscure "can't find drivers message" which turned out really meant "you should unplug your install usb and replug it into a different usb port and then I can find the drivers on it".

Or trying to work with students on a Swift project, only to find out that the MacOS file system pretends to understand Unicode file names, but really ignores them.

> Or trying to work with students on a Swift project, only to find out that the MacOS file system pretends to understand Unicode file names, but really ignores them.

Wait, really? HFS stores Unicode file names in (according to Wikipedia) the "Apple-modified variant of Unicode Normalization Format D)", but it really does store them, I think (unlike case, which it preserves but ignores, which basically means it guarantees wrong behaviour).

None of those has been an issue for at least a decade on any major distro.

I recently tried to install antergos which is basically arch.

Graphics drivers didnt work during install, no big deal, I'll just use text mode. Except the text mode didnt work either for some reason. To fix the issue I would have had to compile my own image, or to trust some random guy on github that he didnt put a rootkit in his installer.

There are definitely annoyances like these which you dont have on windows/mac. You dont need to be a good programmer/hacker to fix issues like this, yet on linux, you sometimes do.

While I really love linux and its distributions, you cant expect endusers to run them without big issues

Who the hell would recommend an Arch flavor to ordinary users? Windows/MacOS should be compared to Ubuntu/Fedora(/Tubleweed). Arch is not ready for anyone who is not very interested in their OS.

I wouldnt recommend Arch to an enduser, that was me trying to install it and failing.

Can ubuntu nowadays install nvidia drivers or does that still not work? For an enduser "installing graphic drivers" is not particularely easy ("what is a driver, why do I need it", etc), yet something pretty basic ("why does this [linux compiled, opengl] game run at 1 fps?")

The work laptop I'm typing this on has NVidia graphics, but all the driver stuff was handled automatically in the installation process and I never even thought about it. I just checked and found the setting where I can stop using proprietary drivers but you have to go out of your way to find that sort of thing.

Installing nvidia drivers is an option directly available in the Ubuntu installer.

Most gamers install drivers. This process is much more difficult on Linux than it is on Windows, though.

Arch is pretty much meant for people who are comfortable with this kind of failures. It even expects you it install it by yourself, with no installer, so well...

Such a Linux Desktop evangelist comment chain. Step one: ask what problems people are talking about. Step two: completely dismiss and downvote all responses.

To be fair, it mainly seems to be your responses that are being dismissed and downvoted. Try being less rude (and less of a hypocrite re: evangelism).

Not really. The only problems I've encountered were problems with drivers for esoteric devices. Still really annoying, but whether that's worse or better than Windows' problems depends on what devices you use and what values you have.

The real problems for me are:

- outdated packages or unstable rolling-distro (OpenSuse Tumbleweed is surprisingly good, but not as well-supported as Ubuntu/Fedora)

- bad game support (few titles and shoddy Windows ports)

I don't know what you guys do to get into all those problems.

In 10ish yeaes Linux has in all except one case:

- installed faster than Windows

- worked out of the box, no hunting for drivers


For me the annoyances of Windows and especially Mac are a lot bigger than those of Linux :-/

Hmm, really? I just installed firefox—the only prompt it gives you is the prompt it always gives when setting a new default web browser.

And Safari is a terrible browser, with only the redeeing quality that it's power/battery friendly.

My only Apple computer is my iPad and I have the opposite complaint. I've never installed a browser and don't really want to as Safari works well enough for me. However, when an app goes to open a web page, it opens a dialog asking if the page should be opened in Safari or Chrome. I'll pick Safari and check the box that remembers this setting. Then, a few weeks later, it will ask me again.

Why does it keep suggesting Chrome?

This isn't a system dialog, its baked into Google apps to try and get you to use Chrome when opening links.

AFAIK there's no option to set a default web browser on iOS.

Ohhhhh... that makes sense. Now that I think about it, it's happening when I follow a link from Gmail.

There should be an option when the box comes up next to not ask again. At least I have one on iOS 12 Gmail.

I check that and it hides it until the next update of the app then it asks me again. I'm using the InBox app (which apparently is being discontinued).

Worse still, these options are a lie — it says Safari or Chrome but the "Safari" option doesn't actually open Safari, it just loads the requested page in an embedded web view. Assholes.

Are you sure it does that? I've always used Firefox and Chrome on my Macs and I can't remember ever seeing anything like that. This include my Mojave beta machine.

TBF, I automate my installs so both Firefox and Chrome are installed from the command line via brew cask. Maybe that's why.

It tries to sell you on Safari after OS installation is done, whether you're running a competitive browser or not.

Ah, right. Considering the first thing I do with a new mac is install Firefox and Chrome (front-end developer) then maybe it’s just been unlucky timing that it always pops the message up as I’m loading a competing browser.

I just tried it and no it doesn't

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