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Microsoft pushes ahead with controversial ‘buy now, pay later’ feature for Edge (portswigger.net)
336 points by feross 52 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 291 comments

I cannot stand how everything with internet access is just becoming a vehicle to shove ads down everyone’s throat. This web browser wants to sell me credit deals. My expensive TV has banner ads in the menus (well, it did until I blocked about two dozen domains). An increasing amount of apps are sending “offers” I never requested via push notifications on my phone.

My belongings are not a fucking corporate billboard.

You can thank the capital side of the equation for this.



They used to hide it, but because so much money is being made there's no point anymore.

That site is a perfect example of this. It actually required me to sign up for the newsletter to even read the article.

It's interesting to watch how pages work (or don't) when you delete the advertising DOM elements from the page. Some work fine (like this one), others crash when they try to do something smart like "show the un-skippable banner when you scroll past here".

It boggles my mind that this is being presented by the author as if it were a legitimately good idea and not another step on our collective descent into a dystopian hellscape.

or a normal progression to microtransactions to actually pay for content of value rather than let the msrket of doom scrolling and "engagement" dictate the hellscape that led to trump style media.

remember, 20 years ago they wanted microtransactions to enable content production. this coule of course be done in a open way, but the idea that this is worse than the current landscape of abhorrent conspiracy fueled hate med8a parade is silly.

Most mainstream things are like this now.

Maintaining browsers has become a significant undertaking, so complex that only well-funded corporate interests can afford to keep one patched and up-to-date with the latest web standards. It surpassed operating system complexity. It surpassed pretty much everything else too.

So we can forget about it ever being truly "free" (and free from ads) unless we simplify the web somehow. I also don't think we're going to go back in time and start cutting features out of browsers. So that isn't going to happen.

What might work is a browser funded by massive numbers of small user donations. That's the Firefox model. It kinda works? But Firefox still pushes things on their users and defaults to Google Search.

Another option is to pay for a browser. But there isn't enough interest in a paid browser to get one off the ground.

> What might work is a browser funded by massive numbers of small user donations. That's the Firefox model.

That's not the Firefox model at all. Firefox development done by the Mozilla Corporation is primarily funded by search engine partnerships. Donations to the Mozilla Foundation (which owns the corporation) fund other initiatives instead, and are a much smaller amount.



It's one particular search engine partnership cough cough.

Primarily, but there are others. Yandex and Baidu in 2020 and presumably still: https://www.theverge.com/2020/8/15/21370020/mozilla-google-f.... Others in the past, not sure if any are still active: https://www.cnet.com/news/firefox-and-bing-together-at-last/. They're currently trialling Bing too: https://www.ghacks.net/2021/09/17/firefox-experiment-is-test...

Back to gopher. Use native compiled apps and APIs for everything else. I’m serious.

Probably shave a few gigawatts off the grid killing off electron apps.

The advantage of browsers is that they are becoming the de-facto "universal operating systems". That's why users like them, and that's why devs like them, despite all their defects. I kinda believe in that direction too. It's just the path that is a massive mess. Would I delete and rewrite? Yeah, but browsers and traditional OSes both, to become a single thing.

..and then regret it afterwards :D

Devs might like them, but it would be hard to find a user who grew up in a mobile native world that "likes" a web browser. That's the problem. It doesn't really do anything that 1st and 3rd party apps can't do. Much of the functionality around identity, payments, ad and ui rendering just works so much better in native apps. This is because of API crafting and data management by the platform and partnerships with 3rd parties, like payments. It can all be integrated in a product focused way. Regular users don't even need to understand it. They are just trained that its better. They will learn that once they get into Safari things might not work very well based on prior experience.

>> They will learn that once they get into Safari things might not work very well based on prior experience.

Well, last I checked, Safari didn't support 4k YouTube videos. Apple may have fixed it, but it's an example for your argument.

Theyre multi-platform portals to the capitalist endpoints of work, and shopping, and paid leisure, but abstractions to hardware they are not. Merely abstractions to differing operating systems.

It's not a bad idea. I've switched to terminal UI als for some stuff and the clean, fast and high visual density is really simulating.

A lot of the web is really just distraction and ad peddling crap

or produce content people actually find valuable and ensue the decades long desire tomactually pay for valuable information, rather than swim in bullshit and pretend quantity will just "bubble up"

I’m currently beta testing two paid browsers and I’m about to be trying a third. We are seeing a bit of a golden age for software right now where it seems a certain subset of the population has become not only comfortable paying for it, but also paying realistic (read not subsidized) pricing for it. I’m not saying this will ever be mainstream per se, but I am suggesting that enough people may be interested to make the model a sustainable alternative.

How many of those browsers are Chromium based? Because if they are that’s still not actually an answer, they’re piggybacking off Google’s work.

One is Chrome, one is Webkit, and the third is completely custom. I do agree with your point below that unless the rendering engine is built from scratch, then the cost of the browser is still being subsidized, just higher up the chain.

Needless to say, it's that third browser I'm trying that interests me most.

The irony is Google is the evil corp. who is stalking users is to make more money. And when MS does it, it's because MS is just trying to make money for the service they are providing. Even when MS's browser is based on the work done by Google.

How is it not an answer?

Because no matter what their subscription price is it’s only reflective of the development work required to add features on top of Chromium, not of building a web browser. As such it’s not sustainable.

If it ever became a competitive issue Google could very easily close source Chrome. Then suddenly all these Chromium-based subscription browsers would be on the hook for all browser development, security updates included. And that would be enormously expensive. So their prices would have to go up. Would their business still be sustainable? It’s questionable at the very least.

> Google could very easily close source Chrome.

Only today did I realize that most of Chromium (and WebKit) is BSD licensed. So closing the source would be much easier than I expected.

Firefox and Gecko are MPL licensed, which is like GPL but scoped to individual source files.

Software only makes sense in the context of the non-tech world, specifically the behavior of humans.

Despite the fact that only large corporate interests can maintain a browser, that monopoly exists because of a careful balance where developers contribute free labor to the project. Also Google's open-source initiatives still have some developer goodwill.

If Google close-sourced Chromium, they would definitely suffer repercussions. They would anger most programmers and hackers. Say goodbye to bug bounties. Say goodbye to free labor. Say hello to Microsoft taking the opportunity to fork Chromium and make Google look even worse.

Do you see it becoming a competitive issue though? Even the commenter who brought it up doesn’t even think paid browsers will ever be mainstream. I certainly don’t.

Perhaps because they won't be truly independent because of the cost to hard fork?

> It surpassed operating system complexity

Gates understood that early on (that the browser would become the platform), hence giving Explorer away for free.

I think what you meant to say was that Marc Andreeson understood it would become the platform, and Gates came to realize that he was on to something, and used Microsoft's monopoly to steal the implementation of the idea.

I didn't mean to say that. I don't know what Marc understood, but I do know that Gates made it clear what he thought.

A new HTML/JS/CSS standard should be defined based on lessons learned implementing past browsers. Such a standard would make it easy to implement a browser.

Here’s my suggestion: make a base browser support wasm, canvas (or something like webgpu, I’m not sure) and APIs, unavailable from sandbox. And then build JS engine, HTML, CSS, etc on top of this base platform. Now all the complexity is encapsulated and can actually be replaced by a particular website. Web apps can avoid this complexity. Web sites will just `import html from google-chrome` or something like that.

The point is that base browser should be simple enough to be implemented by a single developer. And all those complex standards are just libraries, like Angular.

Except that corporations join standard bodies to exert influence in their favor. If a standard is easy to implement then there would be more competition. E.g. Microsoft pushed standardization of their Open Office XML format. A party critical of their standard printed out the two competing specifications. ODF sat on the table and OOXML sat on the floor. My memory is hazy but I think the OOXML stack was still taller than the ODF stack.

Oh yay a new standard! https://xkcd.com/927/

The browser has become the application runtime for most purposes today, including in the enterprise. It's also on the front-line for most security threats as its functionality relies on parsing & executing untrusted and potentially malicious code safely.

It's the perfect place for security features, enforcing policies and productivity improvements. The Enterprise™ spends huge amounts of money on (often dubious) security products and productivity tools and their complexity sometimes even exceeds browsers. A paid browser that offers better security, supports policies such as restrictions or data loss prevention and productivity features (such as ad blocking, reader mode, an easy automation API) would definitely have customers.

>I also don't think we're going to go back in time and start cutting features out of browsers.

Well, there has been a recent spike of interest in small protocols (Gemini, Gopher). It's mostly limited to esoteric tech enthusiasts though.

There are what, two billion people using a browser every day? Three? For some amount of time measured in hours? There is nothing that could prevent a product in that spot from becoming more sophisticated over time, and it doesn't require any corrupt "corporate interests".

The alternative does exist: you can surf the text-only web with lynx, or by reading pure HTML. Even today, most content is available via RSS as well.

Nobody wants that because the modern web is better than it used to be.

Arguably, Google's interests have been aligned with web users' for the last decade or two. Because their #1 fear is/was "walled gardens, both of the Facebook variety as well as native apps. So they need(ed) the web platform to be just as good as native applications, which is how we got joystick and USB web APIs. This is a chance of this changing because they have their own walled garden in the form of Android, but I'm not seeing it yet.

Besides, all browsers are open-source, standards support is incredibly good today compared to the past, none of them try to lock you into their Windows-only ActiveX components, they don't intercept ads and resell them in the black market (except the self-proclaimed "brave" browser)... I really don't think browsers are epitome of corruption you consider the, to be.

Microsoft's attempts to upsell you aren't really evil, they are just tasteless. Seriously: one of the features of really high end products is that they don't quite need as many flashing lights to get your attention. Apple does earn a lot of money, and it likes nothing more than selling you more stuff. But they certainly have enough self-respect not to run banner ads for third parties in their software.

(The difference is (was?) most obvious with these insane stickers ("Intel Inside", "Windows Ready") every other manufacturer had to ruin their notebooks with. But, then again, I know enough people who never took them off to suspect they don't care. Or worse.)

> My expensive TV has banner ads in the menus (well, it did until I blocked about two dozen domains)

Just wait until Google has pushed everyone into encrypted DNS like they did with HTTP ...

HTTPS can be implemented in a decentralized way without a single party having access to your sites visited. DNS-over-HTTPS is by its nature centralized. So is DNS. Your DNS provider has a list of all sites they’ve resolved for you, whether it’s encrypted over using TLS or not. Maybe that doesn’t go against your point, but I wanted to clarify that the two technologies have very different privacy implications.

> HTTPS can be implemented in a decentralized way

How does that work? AFAIK there is always a root authority.

No. There are roots and you can install any root you like including one you create. Is that some amount of centralization? I don't think so though convenience and efficiency encourage it on a single and not very important dimension. Once a CA signs a cert they are no longer involved in the HTTPS protocol and really that's the bulk of the use case. As GP noted, it certainly includes "without a single party having access to your sites visited".

You can install any root you like as long as your device lets you. TVs are less likely to let you install your own root.

Keys can be exchanged without root authority. Root authority is only required for identifying that website owner is who he claims to be.

Yes, and without verifying that the owner is who he claims to be, exchanging keys is not of much value.

I dunno, knowing the owner hasn't changed since last time seems almost as good.

The TV will still need to update its certificates and work on corporate wifi, so there should always be a way to feed it your own certificate and MITM DNS. I think, anyway.

You'll have to pay extra for the "enterprise" TV ;)

I mean fine, I’ll gladly pay more just give me the option.

Unfortunately, the "extra" will probably be another 0 on the end of the cost, alongside a minimum order requirement and needing to get the procurement through someone with connections.

This is more or less what happened with Windows 10 editions, as far as I can tell from reading the list.

You just fell for the con!

But why is it a con though?

Marginal cost of TV is $600, amortized business cost for projected sales is $400, expected average lifetime revenue from user data and ads is $60 ($15/"user"/yr for 5 years which is damn good for an ad network), throw in a 6.3% profit margin and we get TV priced at $999.99.

Throw away the ads and user data collection and up the profit to 10% to make it worth their while (since someone willing to pay more is on average worth more to advertisers and so decreases the value of their network) and we get a TV priced at $1099.99.

This seems totally fair to me.

> But why is it a con though?

The product would work just fine without all the extra monetization, that's how it worked for the longest time. Nobody asked for savings trough selling their privacy, that was very much forced on us, and now they force the upsell to "enterpise privacy edition" as the solution to a problem they themselves introduced.

Only until they implement cert pinning, unfortunately.

But what can we do? Ads provide employment for tens of millions of people and fund literally billions of hours of content watched a year. Even if you agree most is trash, it's also allowed some really high quality stuff to flourish while being able to stay relatively independent.

It's strongly tied to economic growth, and thus everybody's pensions are tied up in the success of advertising. It seems illogical it makes such an obscene amount of money, but collectively the advertising industry is bigger than even oil & gas.

Now I don't exactly enjoy ads, I accept a few, but every time they're implemented the pressures of the market just increase it over and over until it ruins the base product, like a cancer.

What's the alternative?

Consumers don't have enough money to pay for dozens and dozens of subscriptions. The ads industry is effectively a tax on every other industry, and thus makes more money than consumers would ever spend on content. I'm open to ban advertising entirely but that also seems like an opposite extreme and counterproductive.

I am not against ads as a concept. If I’m getting something for free, I think it’s fair to say have a lot less say in what I see and when. What I am against is what seems to be a complete decline in any sense of taste and decency over the past 20 years, that means ads will be shoved anywhere if it can make a quick buck out of someone.

I think it’s the interjection that really rubs me the wrong way. If the shop I was purchasing from offered me credit on their website during checkout, I wouldn’t mind—I’m entering a transaction with the shop. But why is Microsoft offering me credit? This is nothing to do with them.

Same goes for the ads on smart TVs. I’ve paid Samsung money for the TV. Why are they still here?

Yeah, the TV thing just rubs me the wrong way. TV channels have ads, which is why I avoid them, but TV menus is too much.

They probably justify it by comparing it to the old cable channel browser which had ads.

I'm in the same position. From their perspective, they're trying to make as much money as possible. Not saying it's OK, but that's the reality. In a sense, we developers are also trying to make as much as we can from the job market.

Not saying it's the same - it's not - but the motivations has some similarity.

The answer is “literally anything else” we’ll still spend the money and use the talent, just not on ads.

I know some incredibly talented artists and writers putting all their effort into ads so they can make a living and it completely sucks.

Ads are more expensive than paying directly. Ads work because companies expect you to purchase their products based on their ads, which means you are now paying for the production of the ad, the sale of the ad, and for the product they expect you to buy, and you get a lot less out of it.

I say the solution is to move all ads to a dedicated space (ads.gov, say) and then when you have a problem as a consumer you can go there and search for a solution or a product.

Then it will become cheaper for the rest of us, and services will have to become more focused on consumers needs, not the needs of advertisers.

True, it's a difficult proposition.

Currently the status quo is that tech people like me just exclude themselves from it. We can block ads very effectively, download video content with the ads removed etc. I see so few ads now that it really surprises me when I do get one.

It works for me but it's not a solution for society as a whole. We can already see adblockers becoming less effective as more people adopt them and ads are being served in different ways by companies like AdDefend.

But personally I don't mind the status quo, it works for me. Fixing the problems of society as a whole is not my problem.

Thos reads like an advertisement.

This is what pisses me off from the tech industry and makes me want to save enough to retire and quit for good or open a non-tech business.

When I dreamed about joining the industry a decade ago I saw all these new companies offering useful & innovative products/services that actually solved real problems and legitimately made people's lives better. I wanted to be part of this world and get in on the action, making honest money in the process - I provide useful service, customer pays me money. Win-win, right?

Nowadays it seems like every tech company's goal is "engagement" and any problems they solve (or claim to solve) are only there to convince you to "engage" with the product. Even when you think you've actually found a company that has a real paid product that shouldn't (and doesn't - yet) rely on "engagement" you will always find some assholes on the inside (typically in marketing) that chase this "engagement" (and over time ruin the perfectly good product).

You could say it's capitalism's fault but I don't think so. There are other areas where completely unbounded capitalism would lead to terrible outcomes such as ponzi schemes, and yet we mostly avoid these because we have appropriate regulation to deter this behavior. The problem is that we have zero effective regulation (the GDPR doesn't count until it's enforced seriously) around misuse of personal data which powers this whole "engagement" crap.

Fortunately I think (hope) there is light at the end of the tunnel. "Engagement" only works if advertisers pay for those eyeballs which they'd only do if those ads worked and the prospective customer actually bought the advertised product. As we are already saturated in ads (and/or people deploy countermeasures such as ad-blockers) and the costs per click/impression keep dropping the bubble will hopefully pop and it will become more profitable to sell paid, premium & ad-free products like it should be.

That’s partly why I’ve enjoyed working on “b2b” products in my career and have avoided working on “b2c”.

When your customers are using your product as part of their job, your incentive is (often) clear: make them more efficient at their job, which means make your product faster and easier to use. The vendor and the customer are aligned.

In the b2c world your goal is often “engagement”. Get the customer to spend as much time as possible in the app. Get them to use your app more than other apps. In a way you have to make your app less useful (to the customer) to make it more valuable to the vendor.

>my belongings

You think they are, but they aren't.

Yeah, this is basically it.

If you have to agree to an End User License Agreement to use a thing then that thing isn't yours, not truly.

I typically respect Apple products, but they also shove ads in the settings app...

You apple users can help me remember this. I was helping out someone with a macbook maybe 15 years ago, and noticed in the printer configuration apple trying to sell me printer cartridges. What was that model? Did apple make cartridges at some point?

Just recently I was given an iPad during the pandemic, and noticed the native "books" app constantly pushing a "reading now" view advertising ebooks, etc. I switch it to the library. Restart the app a couple times, I'm back in the "reading now" view. Is there a setting I'm missing, short of airplane mode? Because if not, I don't know how you apple users deal with this money-grubbing bs.

Your tone seems to imply that you're an Android user. How is Google/Android not money-grubbing?

Does “Sign up for iCloud” count as an ad? It’s a core (albeit optional) feature, included with the product the user has bought.

The same could be said of Fitness+, or any of their other services. Yes, it’s “advertising”, but sits pretty inoffensively on the spectrum.

I literally sold my iphone because it would not shut the fuck up about icloud. So here's one data point.

Even though I love my M1 Macbook Pro and iPad Pro, I have a lot of problems for them working together with my Android phone. I was thinking of switching to iPhone Pro Max (the only iPhone with big enough screen for my bad eyes), but it’s so thick and heavy (as thick as the tablet), that I feel like it would be uncomfortable for me.

Go to an Apple store and ask to try to lift one. You could also find something that weighs about the same, but in my opinion the actual weight is often secondary to its form and weight.

Of course I tried it, and I was not satisfied with its screen-to-thickness ratio, especially compared to my Note 10+

> it’s so thick and heavy

Where is Jony Ive when we need him? ;-)

I have seen a reminder once about time running out to buy an AppleCare warranty, which I appreciated. What other ads have you seen in Settings?

You get offers for Apple Fitness+ when buying a new Apple Watch. At the minute they’re very much on the boundary between ads and useful reminders/offers, and are still easy to dismiss. But I worry that as services continues to become a bigger and bigger focus for Apple that they may end up just like Samsung.

iCloud storage subscription when your phone is running low on space.

See this mini thread from a few days ago on the same topic -- https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=29291166

Wow! I was going to mention the same mini thread (started by me!).

If you can still edit your message on the older thread/page, you should link to this discussion (or post a new message). That way, the circle of life will be complete haha

I’m kidding of course (you should still do it if you can/want) ;)

Sadly (but understandably) HN doesn't let me edit old comments. I guess the circle of life (read recursion!) can be complete here:


It's very annoying. I think the time limit should be on the order of months rather than hours.

I tend to think that online discussions are better when people can edit their posts, correcting mistakes, adding context or information, or even changing their position in light of new evidence or convincing arguments.

advertises iCloud ..

advertises ApplePay

advertises AppleCare

advertises AppleMusic

advertises Apple Fitness

Not too much in your face but honestly it does come off as tacky.

It was a serious violation of good design principles for Apple to abuse notifications and (especially) the Settings app for pushing advertisements.

I'm not sure why they would want to destroy the positive brand reputation and goodwill that they've built over decades.

> I typically respect Apple products, but they also shove ads in the settings app...

This is insanely horrible - another flagstone on the road to hell.

I'm kind of shocked that the HI people at Apple would be OK with it.

Apple has built its entire business on user experience, so it doesn't seem wise to sacrifice that on the altar of marketing for services.

Because nobody wants to pay for anything and ads won the race to the bottom for monetization.

Except I paid for my TV.

> My expensive TV has banner ads in the menus

Mine doesn't, because I don't plug it into the intertoobs. (I use a Roku box.)

My Roku shows ads on its home screen. Do you have an older model?

Even my Roku remote control has ads: the Netflix, Disney, Hulu, and Sling shortcut buttons that can’t be reprogrammed.

They are not clearly ads, for most people they are features. As I’m visiting lots of hotels, my main criteria for watching TV there is if there’s a Netflix button or not on the remote.

I read somewhere that roku makes more money by selling user data than they do by selling hardware.

Wasn't that Vizio? Probably all of them are making more money selling data...

> It allows any purchase between $35 and $1,000 made through Microsoft Edge to be split into four payments over a six-week period.

> While the service is being promoted as ‘interest-free’, some were quick to point out that all transactions are subject to a “$4 flat fee”.

$4 in fees on $1000 over 6 weeks is an effective APR of around 4% - pretty good. $4 in fees on $35 over 6 weeks is an outrageous APR of around 123%. I'm guessing Zip is hoping most people are closer to the latter than the former. I wonder what kind of cut Microsoft is getting.

[1] https://www.calculator.net/apr-calculator.html?cloanamount=3...

Now web browsers are gonna become credit cards attached to your browsing history... Great job guys! :|

Ugh, who ever would have thought 2021 would have come to this.

Ugh, who ever would have thought 2021 would have come to this.

1980's cyberpunk writers

>> Now web browsers are gonna become credit cards attached to your browsing history... Great job guys! :|

The dark humor is that some of the developers responsible for today's horrible web experience are here on HN...

...and well understood the horrors of a Cyberpunk like dystopia in time.

Opera started offering payday loans in Kenya a few years ago:


Just wait for what’s in store in 2022!

anyone paying attention.?

I don't think this have been downvoted, this is a really really obvious thing to do with the raging success of both Apple Pay/Shop Pay/Android Pay/Samsung Pay/Paypal and Afterpay and it's clones. From the financial perspective of the big three companies that make browsers they're nothing more than shopping portals and all new user-facing features built into browsers support the user-stories of people buying things.

Paypal & Shop Pay have the problem of getting people to let them store their CC info to upsell them on afterpay type stuff and CC offers -- browsers and $Platform Pay already have it so MS is bootstrapping their $Pay service via the thing they can control.

But the reason I use Apple Pay and Google Pay before that is that it is more convenient and I can avoid touching the PIN Pad. I pay in full immediately.

ive been readying about microtransactions for decades.

this is basically what thta is.

This is M$ we're talking about. Are you really surprised?

The overused acronym aside, MS does seem to seriously have issues building quality software because they lack focus. They always seem to get hijacked by forces in their own organisation dragging them off-track.

Like totally screwing up Windows 8 because some part of the company wanted to sell more tablets. Ruining Teams by adding so much functionality to it without a clear vision that it's become a slow and confusing mess. Now this, undermining the push for a clean and fast browser with what is probably just one VP pushing this to make a quick monetary win for his team.

This is one thing where Apple under Steve Jobs would shine. The company had one direction, one that was sometimes not what everyone wanted but once it was set it would not let itself be dragged off-track.

Haven't written MS that way for a while but it starts to feel like it is time for it again.

This is capitalism we’re talking about.

What sort of person is buying something for $35 over 6 week instalments? What sort of stuff are they buying? It's a cash grab on the poor until they get regulated.

Why does anyone need a payment plan for a $35 item though?

Because it hides the true price of things. It makes it easier to consume blindly with no regard to the actual cost.

It also allows them to more deeply tie your buying habits to your browsing history and to monitor you to figure out how to manipulate you towards spending more towards their owned and affiliated interests, while also making interest on your purchases. Diabolical.

Because they promote it as a $9 purchase, less than the price of 2 cups of coffee!!!

And most people are far too financially illiterate to understand what that means.

An APR of 23% for $50 sounds like I will have to pay $12.

A $4 flat fee is so much CHEAPER!

Nevermind that a credit card means I can pay back in 3 weeks minimum in the US, without paying any interest, and further, a $4 flat fee on $50 over 6 weeks is an APR that's over 60-70%, if not a lot more.

You've never gone to the grocery store with $10 for a week of food for you and a child.

A whole lot of people are living day-to-day- lying to the IRS about their number of dependents, just trying to make it through today.

The basic daily needs lead to some poor long-term decisions. The people pushing this 'pay later' scheme are scum.

>lying to the IRS about their number of dependents

Can you elaborate? Are you talking about fraudulently claiming a larger EITC by someone who is in fact working?

I believe the incremental EITC for an additional dependent is $40/week or more.

Most people in the US live paycheck to paycheck. High-interest, short-term loans on small principals to the working class have been around for a long time.

As crazy as it seems, in Brazil, payment plans are accepted everywhere. You can literally buy gas , groceries, medicines or whatever on your credit card and they will split make those installments for you. Maybe this market exist outside of the US?

Well, any time you buy with a credit card, you’re effectively doing the same thing.

I remember when they were rolling out credit cards in the US as a common payment method (late 90s)[1], and so for the first time you could put your McDonald’s meal on a credit card, comedians were joking that it felt like you were saying you couldn’t afford it all at once.

Which is not too far off from the reaction here.

[1] and to clarify, yes credit cards were a thing long before that but they were mainly accepted at department stores and for big ticket purchases, not fast food.

Colombia too. It was weird as hell when Starbucks kept asking me how many installment I want to pay for MY CUP OF COFFEE in.

How do late fees work on this product in Brazil? Does this enable usury rates when late fees occur?


The whole purchase amount plus interest is taken from the credit card limit and every month you are charged for those installments.

If you don't pay in full your statement, you pay regular Brazilian credit card interest rates (i.e. very high) on top of the BNPL interest rates.

Some stores that have high cash flow may opt to not explicitly charge interest, opting to discount the price if you pay in full or charging the same price no matter whether paying in full or in 12 installments.

It's important to note that the Brazilian BNPL scheme is enabled by the credit card acquirers, so there's a high degree of integration.

People put $35 items on their credit cards all the time, and don't always pay off their balance monthly.

Honestly, I do. I'm that broke. For instance, there are a couple of subscriptions I would take out that are on great sales for Black Friday, but only on their Yearly Payment options, which I can't afford in one lump sum, so I have to continue paying the monthly fees.

It's a months income for a huge number of poor people.

They're offering payment plans on Dominos pizza now...

Damn, even the Payday Loan and Rent-to-Own guys are taking notes.

It is interesting to compare to using a credit card.

The net tells me that the average credit card in the US has an APR of around 16%. Credit cards typically charge no interest for a month if you pay your balance in full that month. If you don't pay in full they charge interest based on your average daily balance during the month and the length of the month.

If you were to pay with your credit card and then make 4 payments toward your credit card balance on the same schedule that you would have made Zip payments, I get that Zip beats the card if the purchase is over $487 and occurs at the start of your credit card billing cycle. It the purchase occurs in the middle of the cycle it needs to be over $811 for Zip to be cheaper. (This is assuming that in the month of the 4th payment you pay of the card balance completely).

I would applaud the convenience, but the terms are not nearly as useful as other services. If I can spread a purchase over four months, that's really useful. Affirm has been good to me this year. ...But what is even the point when you bill twice as often as most people get paychecks?

> what is even the point when you bill twice as often as most people get paychecks?

I'm seeing some employers here offering "next day pay" i.e. you get paid today for the hours you worked yesterday. IDK but could also imagine that many "gig" jobs work that way, i.e. do Uber drivers get their pay immediately with each ride provided, or two weeks later?

Wonder if that model will soon be more common?

So on further thought, four payments over six weeks, assuming an immediate initial payment, means it bills every two weeks, or every standard paycheck. So I guess it's mostly fine...

But Affirm still defaults to spreading over four months, usually interest free for the retailers they partner with, and ends up a far superior deal.

Unfortunately some employers are charging 1% or more to get paid faster. It doesn't sound like much, but 1% to get money a week earlier is a very high APR.

The interest on $35 is only $4 since it is a flat rate not a reoccurring rate.

Right. It's a fixed term loan. Not revolving credit. These 2 loans are mathematically equivalent:

$35 at 0% APR, $4 fees, 6 weeks fixed term

$35 at 123% APR, $0 fees, 6 weeks fixed term

You could argue the high APR loan is worse because interest will be compounding if you miss your payments. But I'm guessing the Zip loan also has late payment fees.

But people are probably going to use it for larger amounts where that flat fee would equal a much lower apr.

An APR much lower than 123% is still outrageously high for purchases of $100 or $200 - but in any case, the browser should not get involved in this at all.

Sure, and generally the shorter the term the larger the APR. Makes it sound a lot scarier, huh?

All these discussion about APR and napkin math and installment is missing the point a bit, in my opinion.

My problem is not even that Edge collects unnecessary and allows what could be called a most intrusive third party add into its browser per se, I am mostly amazed by how incredibly tacky this looks and feels from Microsoft's side.

Like, imagine buying a Lexus and discovering they are advertisements for a cheap off-brand energy drink plastered on the interior.

I find it straight up incredible that Microsoft somewhat achieved to overcome the meme status of its browser after what, fifteen years, and now this? Passing on the the crown of being the lowest common denominator tech joke to someone else, gaining a little bit of market share and even one or two positive reviews in respected outlets...only to risk it all in this weird move of behaving like a shady car salesman for what must a be a double digit million deal at most, right?

Yeah, this really is the most unbelievable part. Edge is a huge halo-effect opportunity for Microsoft to improve its brand among non-customers, and it looks like they’ve been seriously pursuing it with some of the interesting things they’ve been doing with dev tools. To throw all this away for a few bucks in affiliate commissions is jaw-droppingly short-sighted.

I really believe right now that Microsoft's Windows/Edge teams are following the gaming industry's way of "Let ordinary people be outraged, the whales will feed us"

Meanwhile in the UK this week ...

"The government agreed to regulate BNPL lenders after an independent review chaired by City expert Christopher Woolard, published in February, warned that the sector represented a “significant potential consumer harm”."


They should be regulated but in most cases they're just fine. The vendor gets paid straight away, minus a fee, and the customer gets to pay for their item interest free later. The issue is if they miss their payment, presumably.

The benefit to the vendor is that it increases sales / conversion rate & hence worth paying for.

> consumer harm

If there was a flat limit on the total you could end up paying, maybe… but there isn’t.

Giving cheap loans to people who can’t pay them isn’t “just fine”, it’s predatory behaviour.

…but anyway, regardless of either of our opinions, it increasingly looks like it’s going to be legally regulated, so, the point is it’s a risky play for Microsoft.

Not really. Anyone who follows the BNPL space knows that it will end up regulated. The UK government has been very clear about this for the last year and are actively consulting on it.

There are also offerings that are already regulated and licensed by the FCA, so as long as you stay within their consumer credit guidelines it's not a "risky play".

M$ never ceases to amaze regarding how low they'll go to make a dollar. A few years ago it was their infamous Linux patent racket and behid-the-scenes funding of SCO's UNIX lawsuit. Now they're loan sharking. I've also been reading recently about their botched attempt to limit the new hot code reloading feature of .Net 6 to Visual Studio as well as their proprietary debugger code which prevents .Net from ever going truly open source. Same old M$.

Make it hard for others to use other browsers, then push them in to getting in to buying things they cannot afford. Very unethical and I hope there are repercussions for all this horrible behavior.

Can't make an omelette without breaking some eggs, y'know? I'd like to believe that people will stop using Windows now, but I think at best they might just lose some market share over the next 5 years.

I, too, have been watching Succession

What? I haven't actually! Is that a key phrase they use in the show?

Can't make a Tomlette without breaking some Greggs

I relate to the line of thought this is like spam mail: they like to do obvious errors, because it filters people who'd disturb their money-farming scheme by asking questions.

It is a bad sign for a company when they start to focus on selling you finance stuff instead of focusing on what they nominally do. I remember how hard Sears pushed their credit card, for example.

I doubt this is Microsoft’s focus. I think this is some high level PM in the Edge division making this decision, and not getting any pushback from the right people. I doubt this is a sign of satya nadella’s roadmap, for instance.

Having said that, if this gets tons of negative media attention, and they still go ahead with it, then that is tacit approval, so.. we’ll see.

Apple’s credit card is huge success.

Just about every big tech is doing the same since tech trust is so much higher than banks. Irony is - there’s still always a bank behind.

I’d be really pissed about this if they hadn’t pissed me off for the last decade and I hadn’t eviscerated every trace of Microsoft from my existence already. Thus I shall merely respond with ”meh” and ”I thought edge was only used to download Chrome”

In order to save you a step of using Edge to download Chrome we downloaded Chrome first and renamed it Edge.

Imagine if they never told anyone about this and just released it.

"Microsoft was apparently hacked today and someone managed to install crapware into the default install of Edge. Crapware, mostly known to be installed by dodgy software installers when you forget to untick something, has been a problem for many decades, but this is the first time it's been installed by default in a Microsoft application (Unless you count Windows 10)"

Microsoft finally made a browser which renders websites as expected, is up-to-date regarding security and features, and (most) people actually don't have the need to replace it with anything else.

I will never understand why they NEED to ruin this. It's baffling.

Because Microsoft's raison-d'être is to extract as much money as possible from computer users. No matter how much they try to not be evil, no matter how many overtures they make to developers, it won't change the fact that Microsoft is basically just a hostile entity out there to extract as much money as possible from the computing scene.

Of course for-profit companies try to extract as much money as possible from their customers, that’s the reason they exist.

The issue is that once again Microsoft is abusing their monopoly power on the home PC market to make decisions that otherwise would be ignored. No one would download and install Edge and be force-fed ads for money lenders, except that Microsoft installs it by default and aggressively pushes windows users into it with frequent prompts and bogus security warnings.

It’s the bundling and abuse of their market power that is the issue, not their profit motive. In a well-regulated economy they would get fined and forced to change how they operate.

I do not agree that maximizing profit is necessary. A company needs to take care of our customers and employees, and only make enough profit to keep doing so. More is just unethical.

I used to have similar thoughts until I got my MBA. We live in a capitalist economy. Investors consider where to invest by comparing an investment opportunity to a safe rate of return. They need some upside (greater returns) to offset the risk of less certain investments. Maximizing profits or at least ensuring hefty returns is important for a firm to continue to grow and receive investment dollars.

Maybe the need for continual growth and always angling for more investment dollars is a problem for society.

Of course it is, but we’re all greedy so nothing will ever change.

Where I live, house prices are climbing at about 10% a year. More, now that people can work from home. So you see articles in the paper where boomers say how terrible they feel that the young people won’t be able to afford a house because their house price has gone up $100,000 this year.

To the boomer I say, well, you don’t have to take the money. Nobody is forcing you to sell your house for $100k more this year than last. You’re free to sell it for less. Put your money where your mouth is!

Of course this is just a wry view, a letter to the newspaper. It’ll never actually happen. Because we’re all greedy.

There's no need for investors to get an ROI that's just over the inflation rate. Why would they want that? Because they want to get rich quick.

So let me rephrase it like this: do you like paying too much?

What are you trying to say?

Public companies are going to be priced on the open market based on their growth prospects relative to other companies. Their management chosen to maximize their growth prospects.

I think it is a fair point to say that "good" companies may choose to maintain the wind of customer satisfaction, goodwill and trust at their back by not doing predatory "bad" things.

But saying public corporations are not going to maximize returns is like saying mother bears are not going to protect their cubs. If that was possible within their nature, they wouldn't exist.

And to think they now own Github and NPM. The Borg is truly upon us.

And linked in and minecraft.

I imagine some MBA saw a way they could augment the payment card feature to extract money, and bringing that to their manager is a good permanent gain for them (since they most likely won’t have to answer to the PR team).

Because in the long run you make money best by providing customers valuable services and/or products. If you're screwing over your customers in any way, that is counterproductive to that goal.

Maybe that's true, but these kind of actions are Microsoft's MO. It's how they grew, it's what they'll forever do. I almost thought they had changed when they seemingly shifted to be friendlier when they were trying to attract developers to Azure and embracing Linux and OSS, but obviously not. MS just can't not be evil. Kind of like Oracle.

M$ "embracing" Linux was like The Wicked Witch Of The West embracing Dorothy considering how soon it followed their evil Linux patent racket and funding of SCO's baseless UNIX lawsuit. Beware The Borg, all you who are too young to remember M$'s glory days.

Haven't the past past 10 years been a complete refutation of this belief? Money made by hype, fraud, market power abuse or regulatory arbitrage dwarfs profits made by providing value, no longer how long the time horizon. Especially since it's clear that the US establishment's policy is not to prosecute and punish white-collar crime

It's a business

You just described every tech company.

Not every tech company is a for profit company.

It is a for profit company, the reason is always profit.

I'm honestly not sure how much profit a 2 trillion dollar company is supposed to generate from an interest free pay later browser bloatware feature

Even if you're Scrooge McDuck that sounds not worth it

As another said, the goal to increase revenue is per team. The Edge team must likely find proof for how they will drive revenue in the future.

Suddenly you've got a full browser engineering team trying to figure out how to monetize a browser - tough sell. So they can't come up with anything, that's fine because a product manager is the owner of this task anyway. They propose a myriad of different ways to monetize Edge in the future:

* A "Edge Pro" subscription $10/mo where you get ad-blocking and no tracking (we'll need to block third-parties from offering this)

* A built in way to pay people online, we take a cut. Hey maybe we finance big purchases and that's a unique selling point?

* Premium apps/websites, web page authors can give access only to users with an Edge subscription and in return they get a cut of the profits.

They discuss these options as a team, and decide which one is least likely to cause backlash and is least difficult to "try out" and they land on what we're seeing here.

This is a pretty good breakdown of how it likely came to be, but leaves out the satanic rituals and incantations that also (seemingly) play a big part in how microsoft makes decisions.

"The peripheral drivers team needs to increase it's revenue."

That team doesn't need to, device manufacturers already do that by only making drivers for Windows for certain devices, increasing lock-in

"View this ad to continue using your mouse"

Sell the default search provider to bing for a few billion dollars. Same way Firefox makes money.

Mozilla can negotiate with multiple search engines. Imagine if the Edge team tried to make Google Edge’s default search engine!

The winning play for them is to make genuinely the best browser, gain market share, and then start their shenanigans. Like Google did

Today's Google is a saint compared to the nineties Microsoft.

I don't know about that - 90s MS was a scumbag to any other company it could get under it but it generally didn't harm its users (other than of course being uncompetitive and limiting options) because its users were a form of customer (just not the enterprise level customers which were most important)

Google harms other companies as well that it can get under its thumb, but also harms its users.

In other words the only time I would have thought in the 90s how is MS going to harm me would be if I decided to start a company that would potentially compete with them, or would depend on standards they were likely to sabotage.

Today if I decide to use a google service I have to to wonder - how is google going to harm me?

> Today's Google is a saint compared to the nineties Microsoft.

Definitely not the case.

See: rigging the advertising market in cahoots with Facebook (Jedi Blue).

See: conspiring with other large tech companies to artificially limit salaries for tech workers.

See: leveraging its search monopoly to gain additional monopoly or near-monopoly positions (YouTube, Chrome, Android), as well as using it to harm competitors (eg Yelp and many others).

See: huge, repeat fines out of Europe for various abuses.

What we already know is that they're at least as evil as 1990s Microsoft. What we don't yet know, is likely to yet put them over the top. The Feds have hardly even looked under Google's corporate hood as they did with Microsoft in the 1990s. This is merely the second or third inning of discovery of all the evil shit Google has likely done over the past two decades. Google's founders simultaneously ran away as fast as they could to get out in front of what was coming, because they know where the bodies are buried.

> The Feds have hardly even looked under Google's corporate hood

"Well of course I know him ­— he's me" https://qz.com/1145669/googles-true-origin-partly-lies-in-ci...

What shenanigans do you think Google is pulling? There's nothing equivalent in Chrome...

Extension manifest V3.

Care to explain why you think it's a bad thing? Seems like it's mostly deprecating old JS ways of doing things and introducing new JS features and a better security policy.

It's an underhanded way to limit blocking capabilities that they can sell as a benefit.

Most of Chrome’s shenanigans happen on the backend, like with Google in general.

Google is an advertising company. That's what they make their money from. And they are the biggest internet advertising company.

Everything they do is aimed at gathering more data for more lucrative ads.

I'd rather be connected to contextual ads than have my OS vendor try to keep my entire digital life hostage for a ransom.

> While the service is being promoted as ‘interest-free’, some were quick to point out that all transactions are subject to a “$4 flat fee”.

Of all the FAAMG out there, Microsoft arguably has the most diverse revenue streams, I don't see what's surprising with them going after another market (let alone payments). It's just another layer for monetization and doesn't prevent them pursuing their other business lines (it's arguably different teams anyway). Nothing's ever worth it if you take the approach of "It's already worth/earning 100x, adding 1x isn't worth the effort".

P.s.: I don't mean to defend BNPL, IMO it is shark loaning disguised behind late fees. I forgot the exact number but when I did the (ballpark) math for Afterpay you were capping at like 30% in late fees within 3/4 months.

> Of all the FAAMG out there

Of all the MANGA* out there


Not the commenter above, but I don't really want to support Facebook's attempt to dodge bad press with a name change.

I'll stick with FAAMG.

I'm not too political/ideological about it, but Alphabet kept it's G in the acronym, Meta will keep it's F. I may revisit once they don't get >90% of their revenue from Google Services and Facebook + IG. But I do think if we're gonna be pedantic about Meta, we should be the same with Alphabet.


The Scrooge McDuck from the Ducktales remake (which I heartily recommend watching; it's a wonderfully funny cartoon for adults that pokes fun at plenty of adult things including silicon valley and mark zuckerberg) actually talks a bit about making money the smart way rather than being a penny-pincher. Which is a nice departure from the old persona.

There is zero proof that it will remain interest free forever; also their main goal here is to engage as much people as possible, so that each purchase click will generate profits indirectly through users profiling etc.

The goal is per team, Edge team must find new ways to generate profit, how much they make doesn't really matter, but the goal is to keep increasing this profit.

What profit did legacy Edge bring them? Considering all the development efforts, I'd believe it was more of a money sink than anything else.

What about WSL?

If you simply subtract some estimate of damage to their multi-billion dollar brand, it far outweighs any conceivable revenue from this creepy feature. It is not as if buy-now-pay-later is not already widely available on most merchant checkout pages. This will just be one option among many.

But their thinking is flawed. The reason is of course profit, but the result will not be profit.

Chrome doesn't do this.

The previous edge (at least the latter versions) weren't that bad. I had about the same amount of issues with safari and the edgeHTML edge, but the big difference for me was that at least I could test edge legally on a non-windows machine while I cannot for safari. I also ran into some issues of corporate policies holding back updates, which seems like a "unique" "feature" of windows.

Not being able to legally, without paying, test safari compatibility is crazy to me.

They copied a browser which renders websites the same way as the browser they copied from. Value add, whether you like their choices or not, is arguably the only reason one would pick their browser over the browser they copied.

I do understand. Look at Firefox: they are barely hanging on.

Only because the Mozilla foundation spends their money doing all kinds of dumb things that no one wants.

That is not the "only" reason that Mozilla is struggling. There are vanishingly few companies their size who manage to remotely hold their own against Google for over a decade, let alone in a market segment that Google has invested on the order of billions of dollars in engineer time and advertising cost (some of it in the form of "free" advertising on the google.com homepage). That Mozilla has to contend with Google also being basically the only one willing to purchase search deals with them just makes it even more difficult.

Their password program was an example of this.


As long as economics 101 is: "Hello capitalism!" ... What do you expect?

Just recently I was setting up Windows 10. One of the first things it asked for is an email account or you can create one. Ugh. I remember the days when you didn't need an email account to setup an OS. Also Windows 10 has many nagging notifications if you are not logged in to Microsoft services.

The unofficial workaround being to not provide any WiFi information. But if you do it once, it remembers.

Unplug your ethernet and it lets you create a local account.

Have you tried using google products lately? Ouch. Annoying.

At first I thought this was about Microsoft applying this payment option to purchases made through its (app) store. This applies to purchases made via Edge on any website. I wonder how they do that, will they fill the credit card details with a virtual CC generated on the fly by Zip?

From my brief research it looks it can generate single-use cards. But they also have retail partners with a more direct option.

> As Zip Money has surged in popularity over the years, hundreds of retailers have signed up to join the fun. You can use this BNPL at a range of stores, like Amazon, Target, Harvey Norman, Just Jeans and more.

> Zip Money also has a Shop Everywhere^ feature within their app. This allows you to shop at just about any retailer through a single-use card that is created at the time of purchase. All you need to do is add items to your cart and hit 'Pay with Zip' at the checkout!


This was amazing to read.

Everybody will cry out loud whenever they hear anything about crypto or blockchain, yet, give them some "Zip Money" from an *app* and they're suddenly all right.

What a time to be alive...

That’s what it seems like it has to do. It’s part of the saved payment autofill selector.

Hey, Microsoft, it's not your fucking job to serve ads. It is not your fucking job to be the middleman for payment transactions. Your only job is to provide an operating system.

It's not your job to tell Microsoft what they can and can't work on or what services they provide.

The problem is we don’t pay for the operating system anymore.

I do, and then MS just keeps revoking my licenses because I change hardware, real fun user experience all this.

Aren't retailers still paying for licenses? Or there's some easier way to get keys as a business?

I noticed even shops that sell refurbished computers will shove Windows 10 into them, I always thought it was around 10-20 bucks for a license, so that later they can charge us 90-100 for a computer with windows...

You can always just use vlmcsd

Kinda tacky. What's been going on over at MS the past few years? Lot of short sighted decisions being made, then rolled back, that are damaging their reputation and seem counter to the brand Satya started building.

"Interest-free"? Maybe in the technical sense, but a $4 fee on the minimum $35 purchase for a six week loan is a pretty honkin' high effective rate.

If I didn't mess up the inputs, the calculator at https://www.calculatorsoup.com/calculators/financial/apr-cal... says this is equivalent to a 163.2642% APR.

Granted, the effective rate will be considerably less for larger purchases.

I recently got me a windows laptop for media consumption purposes (I still have my Mac mini for primary work). The very first thing I noticed was the constant push for edge browser everywhere. Even on the Lock Screen of Windows, I saw 3 places asking to try Edge browser.

Had to go to settings and disable the ads for edge:


It seems like the linked Microsoft announcement was hardly proofread at all, which seems surprising. I'd have guessed anything remotely related to finance would be thoroughly reviewed by the legal team prior to going live:

> Applying BNPL could take time, you need to sign in with zip every single time. With BNPL in Edge, you can simply link your Microsoft account with your zip account with one click and then bypass sign in from Zip side. It can expedite the application process for you.

I usually use the Canary build, and I'm a little confused based on the Insider blog post on how this works. It doesn't seem to just offer Zip as an option on any store based on my expeirence doing some Black Friday shopping today. If all it's doing is storing your credentails to an alternative payment system like it already allows you to store your credit card and prefilling it for retailers that offer this as an option, I can see the value of the feature. It'd be nice if they could do the same with PayPal or other services. But if the feature is now adding the option to use this service on websites that don't already offer Zip, I agree that is something that should not be enabled by default for all installs.

What next? Windows Explorer (or Teams) will be pushing me to buy an extended warranty for my car... in a friendly Cortana voice.

"Your Internet also appears to be slow. I can switch you to Comcast... say 'Yes' to begin"

Our dystopian future is here.

This is why we need an independent web browser with only basic set of features that are enough for average user.

you need proprietary code to playback bought/rented movies from eg. Youtube though

Agree, google done got us good with widevine DRM. Time for another go at standardized open-source DRM implementation?

The average user doesn't want a web browser with only basic features, they want all of the web to work, all of the time (excepting maybe ads.)

There are always extensions, that currently follow standards and work on all major browsers with minimal changes.

This article is click-bait bullshit.

The title says "Microsoft pushes ahead with controversial ‘buy now, pay later’ feature for Edge browser"

But the text says: "Microsoft has not responded to repeated requests for comment. Given the widespread condemnation of the feature, it may be reconsidering a full rollout – its deal with Zip permitting."

There is zero substance in this article.

And I say the above as a 90's Linux die-hard who loves to bash MSFT.

What part of 'pushes ahead' is click-bait? Microsoft announced the feature, backlash ensued, and despite the backlash there has been no intention of halting the feature. Is that not 'pushing ahead'?

“Pushing ahead” implies they said something later that ignored the backlash. Such as another announcement. If they’re thinking about what to do now, they’re not “pushing ahead”. Just reconsidering.

We won’t know what they’re actually doing until the next announcement.

Oh please. What evidence is there that Microsoft is 'reconsidering' this rollout exactly?

Wew! This looks so cheap and scammy. It's like an ActiveX spyware from 2003, but built right into the browser.

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