Vivaldi CEO criticizes Microsoft Edge for anti-competitive practices

Dec 13, 2021
Microsoft Edge

In 2013, the European Union slapped a massive $731 Million fine on Microsoft for failing to offer users a choice to set a default browser. 8 years have passed since then, has the Redmond company learned its lesson? Vivaldi's CEO/Co-founder Jón von Tetzchner, says no.

Tetzchner founded Opera browser along with Geir Ivarsøy in the mid-90s, before leaving the company in 2011. He founded Vivaldi Technologies in 2013, though the browser they created was released a couple of years later.

Around the same timeframe, in 2015, Microsoft unveiled Edge, built with the in-house Chakra core engine, as the new default browser in Windows 10. More importantly, this was the first step in replacing/retiring the legacy Internet Explorer.

What annoyed users is that Windows 10 complicated the way to set a different browser as the default handler. You need to jump through a couple of hoops in the Settings app, before selecting the application of your choice. This move was heavily criticized, notably by Mozilla. Fast-forward to 2021, and the same applies to Windows 11, though the new Edge is based on the Blink engine, from the Chromium open source project. For reference, Vivaldi, Opera also use the same engine.

Microsoft is pushing Edge in multiple ways. It is the company's operating system and browser, technically they can advertise whatever they want, which is precisely what they are doing. Whether it is competitively ethical, is the matter in question.

Jón von Tetzchner shared a screenshot, taken from his new laptop, on Vivaldi's blog. The image shows a search query for the word Vivaldi on Microsoft's Search Engine, Bing. The top result displayed a controversial message which says, "There is no need to download a new web browser. Microsoft recommends using Microsoft Edge for a fast, secure and modern web experience....."

microsoft edge vivaldi

When I saw that image, I thought, "No way that is real, it can't be". I was wrong, here is a screenshot from my own laptop, with the same message. I should mention that I have Firefox has my default browser, and not Edge.

microsoft edge firefox

That's not something anyone would like to see, least of all if you're a CEO of a rival browser maker, so Tetzchner getting upset about this is understandable. He goes on to criticize Microsoft Edge for anti-competitive practices including the complicated process of switching the browser, during which Windows 10 again asks you not to switch browsers.

microsoft edge chrome

Another screenshot shows Microsoft Edge offering the user to customize their experience, and the recommended settings sets Edge as the default browser. This is a screen I have seen many times, on new installs of Windows.

Now, of course you could ask. Why would you use Edge if you had set Vivaldi as the default browser. That is a good question, but Windows 10 and 11 are a step ahead. If you use the Start menu for online searches, and click on a web result, the operating system will redirect that link to open in Microsoft Edge, and not in your default browser. There are ways to bypass this, but not without the help of third-party software.

So, if you are not a tech-savvy user who switched to a different browser, but used search from Start, opened the link, and accepted Edge's recommended settings, it will be set as your default browser.

To be fair to Vivaldi, I don't believe Microsoft is targeting the browser. This message also appears when you search for Chrome and Firefox. If you don't see the message, keep the tab in focus, exit the browser, and reopen Edge. When it loads the page, you will see the prompt appear for a few seconds before disappearing.

From a browser maker's perspective, suggestions like these are literally going to steal users away from your browser. So the complaints are fair, Microsoft should let users make the choice on their own.

Tetzchner slammed Microsoft's moves as desperate, and called out the Microsoft Rewards program as a way to pay users to use the browser. Speaking of which, Brave Rewards does a similar thing, it's got nothing to do with Microsoft, but I want to point out the trend of incentivizing users to stick with the browser.

While some readers may view the tone of Tetzchner post as a rant, as a Firefox user I agree with his points. Microsoft is trying to turn the browser market into a monopoly. It is a numbers game between Chrome and Edge the two players hold the majority of the browser shares, while the likes of Firefox, Vivaldi, Opera and Brave are dwindling in the competitive industry.

Of these, Mozilla is the only browser brand to circumvent Microsoft's shenanigans, to make it easy for Firefox users to set it as their default browser. That said, the latest Insider Preview builds of Windows 11 do make it a tad easier to switch to a different web browser. It's an improvement, but it's still not as convenient as it used to be prior to Windows 10.

Tetzchner has asked users in the US or EU, to write to or call representatives to investigate Microsoft related to Edge's anti-competitive. I'm not sure if this will happen, it didn't with Windows 10. People have gotten used to it for 6 years, but things have been getting out of hand recently.

Microsoft Edge's recent antics

Ars Technica's article focused on how Microsoft Edge started warning users of the risk of downloading Google Chrome. Really, Microsoft? I never support Google, but even I think this is unfair and dumb. The Verge reported that Edge was displaying some messages mocking Chrome.

Microsoft Edge runs on the same technology as Chrome, with the added trust of Microsoft.
I hate saving money,' said no one ever. Microsoft Edge is the best browser for online shopping.
That browser is so 2008! Do you know what's new? Microsoft Edge.

The irony in that last one is pure gold. That said, Google isn't any better in my opinion, its open-source mobile operating system, Android, ships with a dozen or so of the search giant's apps including Google Chrome, Gmail, YouTube, Maps, Calendar, etc. A few of these are useful, but a good chunk of it is bloatware, which you can disable but not uninstall permanently. And for people who value their privacy or don't use Google services or prefer other apps/services, all of it is unwanted weight used by the system storage. Apple's iOS is similar in this regard, but I don't think its users expect anything different from the Cupertino company. Android is the more open, customizable OS that lets you side-load apps.

What do you think? Should Microsoft offer users an easier way to set the default browser?

Vivaldi CEO criticizes Microsoft Edge for anti-competitive practices
Article Name
Vivaldi CEO criticizes Microsoft Edge for anti-competitive practices
Vivaldi CEO, Jón von Tetzchner has slammed Microsoft Edge for its anti-competitive practices.
Ghacks Technology News

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  1. JaySee said on December 14, 2021 at 8:23 am

    Why does everyone make a stink about Edge, but not Safari on iOS? Apple is 100x worse than Microsoft. You can’t even install another browser on iOS, just fake-skinned Safari.

    1. Klaas Vaak said on December 14, 2021 at 12:45 pm

      @JaySee: on MacOS you can install any browser you like without any problems.

      1. ShintoPlasm said on December 15, 2021 at 9:31 pm

        In fact, in macOS you can change your default browser by selecting it from a single dropbox.

    2. Christian said on December 14, 2021 at 12:35 pm

      iOS is not a monopoly like Windows. Microsoft should be forced like Google has in Android to add options for the default browser. Windows is a monopoly like Android and they should be forced to add this.

  2. matthiew said on December 14, 2021 at 6:37 am

    “To be fair to Vivaldi, I don’t believe Microsoft is targeting the browser. This message also appears when you search for Chrome and Firefox.”

    This is incorrect. Microsoft is targeting multiple browsers. Do a search for Waterfox or Pale Moon and you won’t see that message.

    1. Anonymous said on December 14, 2021 at 10:40 am

      Simply put, Microsoft is targeting normal browsers, not jokes.

  3. Anonymous said on December 14, 2021 at 4:26 am

    “Please sue us again.” – Microsoft

  4. Anonymous said on December 14, 2021 at 2:57 am

    “Microsoft Rewards”

    Looking at the site, it looks like it pays users to search with Bings while being logged in a Microsoft account, not to use Edge. So it’s more about paying users to misuse their private data for advertising, like in Brave.

    Maybe I misunderstood something or maybe it’s Ashwin who is confusing the browser with the search engine. That would explain why he says the ad appears in Edge while it probably appears in the Bing Search web site independently of the browser (which is less bad and an important difference, if this is the case), and Bing happens to be the default engine in Edge but not in the two Google browsers. But that’s not obvious as the Verge article he quotes on another issue seems to talk about Edge displaying actual browser messages in Edge, not site ads…

    I have been trying to explain for a while that targeted advertising should still be called that and considered a problematic powerful mass manipulation mechanism when it’s of the Bing type as exemplified here, but the most prominent privacy communities having finished merging into a few corporate-censorship-happy big tech controlled islands with an added pinch of fascist cybercriminals to polish speech policing, there’s no way to pass that message without various levels of aggression in reply. Wait, you’re looking for a browser ? Great news, you should use our own brand of Evil One instead ! Click on the result with big letters and buttons ! But it will only be believed when it hurts some business like Vivaldi here. And there is potential for much more damage in that recipe already.

    Of course it does not target only Vivaldi, that unused proprietary browser Vivaldi is trying to get advertisement.

    “Whether it is competitively ethical, is the matter in question.”

    I call for a world that will be ethical no strings attached, instead of just “competitively “ethical”” that only means capitalists fighting each other to get a bigger piece of us without us being involved in the process.

    The alt-browsers you list, Firefox and Brave, are multi-recidivist corporate malware, I would have to check the current state of the proprietary Vivaldi and Opera but they are probably not great either. As usual none of the ethical alternatives were listed, because that’s not the competition this corporate world is interested in and will allow to exist.

    “Google Chrome, Gmail, YouTube, Maps, Calendar, etc. A few of these are useful, but a good chunk of it is bloatware”

    The problem is not as much being useless as being spyware. Being useful only makes spyware more dangerous.

    “Apple’s iOS is similar in this regard, but I don’t think its users expect anything different from the Cupertino company. Android is the more open, customizable OS that lets you side-load apps.”

    Indeed, Apple design is strongly against thinking different. More precisely, against thinking better than just for Apple’s profits.

    The more I look at Apple’s Cupertino building

    the more I see the Circle

    I don’t think that it’s a coincidence.

  5. ULBoom said on December 13, 2021 at 10:30 pm

    Again, they’ve been doing this forever. “Modern browser,” “Real browser,” blah, blah. Google started this with Chrome long ago; that’s what sent me after ad and element blockers.

    In 1999 (I think) MS was forced to disconnect IE from windows, fine until Edge appeared and you couldn’t uninstall it until a year or so ago. Now there’s Chredge, simple to remove…it’s not like MS is at all organized, one shotgun blast after another.

    A while back I read some effusive article about how wonderful Bing had become, so I tried it and it outright sucks. Feigning surprise at Bing results is either naive or disingenuous.

    The mass of users of any OS, desktop or mobile, couldn’t care less about their browser, so the claim Vivaldi is being hurt is silly. Those who know what it is and want it will use it. Last I looked Vivaldi had an excellent user forum.

  6. ShintoPlasm said on December 13, 2021 at 9:39 pm

    Google has been doing this for years in every browser but its own, so nothing new under the sun.

  7. Anonymous said on December 13, 2021 at 9:18 pm

    while microsoft’s advertising is aggressive, i don’t remember a single instance i had a problem setting a different browser as the default so i guess i don’t really understand what the complaint is about running through hoops.
    it’s a privacy nigtmare for sure, but performance and experience wise i think edge is a fantastic browser.

  8. Paul(us) said on December 13, 2021 at 7:52 pm

    “To be fair to Vivaldi, I don’t believe Microsoft is targeting the browser.”
    Believe that Microsoft is targeting every browser!
    This because browsers has become a multi billion business.
    Where business is done with the knife between the teeth and pistols in both hands.

    p.s. Alphabet Inc. (Google) is doing the same.

  9. JBates said on December 13, 2021 at 7:39 pm

    olbaze Just replace “operating system” with “search engine” in OPs comment

  10. olbaze said on December 13, 2021 at 7:28 pm

    I had seen this before, so I knew it was real. For comedy, I tried the same thing. I’m on Linux Mint, and going to on Firefox and searching for Vivaldi, I also got the same message. In my case, it says “Launch now”, instead of “try it”. Of course, since I’m not on Windows, that button doesn’t work.

  11. Anonymous said on December 13, 2021 at 6:55 pm

    LOL von Tetzchner is a liar, a hypocrite and basically a clown. I am sure he won’t speak about their closed source slow UI or how they request your phone number to use the mail system they advertise you can use with your Vivaldi account.
    The guy only knows how to complain… so who cares? he doesn’t address what should matter to him, Vivaldi, which is slow, it gives all data to Google and it is closed source so not better than others.
    Seriously, they tell you “we don’t sell your data” but they let Google have it, so what is the point of using Vivaldi?

    Remember when he said he would swim if he got 1 million downloads in 4 days when Opera 8 was released and he couldn’t even do that? that’s the class of person he is, like a politician, too much talk and money in his pockets but then he doesn’t look in the mirror.

    He is supposedly some tech person and he can’t handle switching browsers? we are talking about win10 here, not even win11 which some people might find “so annoying” which I don’t really care, but this is win10, you only ignore Microsoft messages and move on.
    I have used Brave for so long and never got bothered by Windows 10…. it is pathetic this guy and his politician moves of complaining, seeming the poor victim, yet he doesn’t fix Vivaldi and only adds features not many asked for.

    The guy literally wants to copy Mcafee style of getting attention but he doesn’t even know how to do that, He literally supports and talks about the most stupid crap, he can’t even respect USA politics even if he spreads his “I love Europe” but decided to invade America and still support the dumbest causes without doing anything about it and just do it for attention. I wish he would just go back to Europe, but then, people like him are like that.
    That’s why I never liked him and always rolled my eyes at his posts complaining how he bought a win10 computer and he had to update and I don’t know what else he was complaining about… but sounds like a grandpa who doesn’t want to use technology… but I know is more like a politic, sounding this ignorant person who wants to feel what a “normal user” would feel to get the brown points to see if his pathetic browser gains any marketshare.

    Well, he is probably Jealous Edge in so short and under a not so great company, has gained more marketshare than Vivaldi.

    There is nothing worst than when a supposedly tech person complains so much instead of doing anything about it, I mean, he could have done a hack to let Vivaldi be the default without Edge messages, but nah…. he is just an useful idiot put there to spread agendas to his 3 Vivaldi fanboy users, that make for the 0.000001% marketshare Vivaldi does.
    He is like a fish, desperate for some water because Opera while not so great, still has a lot of marketshare, while Vivaldi is like the clown of the clowns of Chromium based browsers.

    1. ShintoPlasm said on December 15, 2021 at 9:05 pm


      What a tsunami of ad hominem codswallop. Has JvT ever mis-gendered you on the Vivaldi forums or something? JvT is actually very much a tech person with proven credentials, and the Vivaldi team has some excellent devs on it. JvT (and other key Vivaldi devs) regularly engage with their users and are very transparent about their browser’s business model/UI/closed-source/etc. To call him a ‘liar’ and a ‘hypocrite’ is baseless slander.

      PS: Vivaldi is not my main driver (I find it too slow and slightly too buggy) but I am often interacting with devs and other users and have consistently found them a pleasure to post to.

  12. common sense computing said on December 13, 2021 at 6:44 pm

    Edge is hot garbage for user privacy, just like Win 10-11.

    GAFAM won’t stop until every computer is a dumb terminal with zero privacy and user control. Once they get their claws into the hardware market and begin banning “unauthorized” OS installs like Linux, it’s game over.

    1. common sense computing said on December 15, 2021 at 2:38 am


      Privacy is a process, not an on/off switch. It’s possible to be very private on the net. Mentally diseased big tech fanboys want privacy focused users to give up, but we won’t. Keep crying about it.

      Also nice wall of text TLDR.

    2. Bob said on December 13, 2021 at 7:12 pm

      @common sense computing

      You are literally using the internet and literally checking a box that says “to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy”

      LOL do you really think you get any privacy when you are on the internet? Maybe you should stop believing the marketing scheme about “protecting your privacy”. I mean, just like some companies make money out of your data, some companies will make by saying they “care about your data”

      You probably have a phone, a tv, and even a watch or something that will do the same or worst than what Windows already do… you can do so much with windows like, you know, use a firewall and block most IPs to most programs, that it is dumb to complain about it.

      Do you really believe Linux will with you some magical privacy? what are you going to do with it? stay offline? because once you use your twitter account, or reddit or facebook or instagram or pretty much any website, then you are already giving your information away, do you really think Microsoft is the biggest threat? that’s like so limited minded, because you don’t see the big picture.
      There is no privacy, there is no security and never will once you are in your beloved internet. I mean, not even when you are without internet you get any privacy, maybe in the middle of nowhere in a mountain with 300 trees around you or in a cave, but not in the city.

      So stop living in a fantasy land thinking Windows is the problem and Edge and Microsoft… if you really believed in privacy, you wouldn’t even be posting anything at all on the internet complaining about Microsoft…. or what device are you using to post? yeah. that’s what I thought.

      And if you think that fingerprinting protection (another marketing buzzword) and using adblockers to block a lot of scripts and ‘privacy’ extensions or using VPN or some proxy will make you more private or anonymous, think about it, technology data has made it easy to identify you in so many ways, they know who you are one way of the other even if you don’t touch a Microsoft product.

      oh BTW, they already restrict the installation of alternative OS with secured boot, which can be disabled but if it couldn’t be disabled, then you would have a point, but you don’t because it hasn’t happened in years. But then, you believe using linux will somehow protect you anything, I mean, which of the 1000000 distros available do you use? are you sue nothing is hidden like so many programs that seemed okay and then turned to be “malicious” with bugs and leaks and issues that could be exploited?
      But do you mean linux like Ubuntu? or something else? lol I mean… ubuntu is not even famous for being too privacy friendly. so your “I use Linux, so I am more private” is so dumb. Especially when you are going to use your computer, browsers or software that will communicate with someone and give your data away so it doesn’t matter what OS you use, if you are on the internet, you are not private, so stop dreaming about it.

      1. m3city said on December 14, 2021 at 10:15 am


        Interesting post. I would add that web stores, social media pages, forums are public spaces. When a person walks in to a shopping mall then it’s obvious that he/she is consiously “loosing” right to privacy to some extent due to store survailence cameras, but also when entering a particular shop one does consent to store rules (either specific like “dont touch teddy bears” or generally agreed social rules). I see internet as no different from this one.

        Right to privacy? Correct – stores should note only the neccessary info about buyer, thus massive data collection, user profiling should be prohibited unless clearly stated in EULA. The problem is that internet services tend to ask for too many questions, saying it’s needed to provide these services. When I enter a bookstore in real life, staff does not check my literacy interests or gather that info at the entrance. They may ask if I volountary ask for that. In internet it’s not that obvious.

  13. allen said on December 13, 2021 at 4:53 pm

    Microsoft… turning marketing propaganda into system policy.

    1. Big Red the Cockerel 365 said on December 13, 2021 at 5:12 pm

      They saw what Brave was doing pushing all the BAT including injecting it into web content

      1. Zoo said on December 13, 2021 at 6:57 pm

        @Big Red the Cockerel 365

        If you don’t enable rewards which is opt-in, you don’t see anything about it… so what is your point? Sounds like Brave is even in your dreams if you mention it without any reason or point since this is about Microsoft and Vivaldi CEO complaining as usual.

      2. Big Red the Cockerel 365 said on December 15, 2021 at 2:55 am

        > If you don’t enable rewards which is opt-in, you don’t see anything about it

        This is not true. BAT rewards itself may be optional, but you still get BAT related crap

  14. beemeup5 said on December 13, 2021 at 4:38 pm

    At this point they’re basically begging the EU(Daddy) to slap them hard with another antitrust fine.

  15. Martin P. said on December 13, 2021 at 4:28 pm

    « Should Microsoft offer users an easier way to set the default browser? »

    Yes indeed. Microsoft’s behavior in this aspect is incredibly childish and stupid. I hope they eventually get slammed really hard for anti competitive behavior, and much more then they’ve ever been. Say, something like a hundred billion bucks. I know it will never happen but if it did, it sure would get their attention…

  16. KDE Plasma said on December 13, 2021 at 4:12 pm

    Blaa blaa, complain all you want. The operating system is not yours, you agreed to it. So suck it up. Microsoft can and will do whatever they want on THEIR operating system, that just happens to run on your hardware. If only there was an alternative..

    1. Christian said on December 14, 2021 at 12:32 pm

      Microsoft should be forced like Google has in Android to add options for the default browser. Unfortunately Microsoft for some reason gets away with it. Maybe because Microsoft has contracts with the european countries for office and windows and can influence our goverments . Windows is a monopoly like Android and they should be forced to add this.

    2. Internet Navigator said on December 14, 2021 at 9:16 am

      @KDE Plasma
      There is no alternative. Well, at least until you can just go and install the latest driver for your video card based on the most common GPU manufacturer in the world.
      Or, to install the program you need, you can’t just go and get it from the manufacturer, and you have to wait until a special person, usually not the creator of the program, prepares this program for your distrib (They are trying to solve this problem, but again there are three incompatible (between each other and between different distribs) variants at once).

      Not to mention that several popular distribs (for example, most popular Ubuntu) already have telemetry built in and enabled by default.

      P.S. If “alternative proposers” wrote as much _code_ as they write text about the availability of alternatives, the situation might be significantly different.

      1. MdN said on December 14, 2021 at 4:50 pm

        @Internet Navigator
        1. Install a compatible video card. Do you even need one? My computer was built from scratch to run Kubuntu. Or get a compatible one. Do you also complain you can’t run iOS on a Huawei phone?
        2. Why should I go to a manufacturer’s website to install a program? We’re not in 2011 any more. There’s an app store. I want someone to check it first. How do you update yours? One by one?
        However… My guitarist was annoying me for months, telling me to install Windows and get Reaper. So, finally, I went to the Reaper website and found a Linux version.
        3. 4. 5. and 666. They are called DISTROS not “distribs”. Where were you doing your research?
        7. Ubuntu telemetry serves a purpose, can be disabled never to reappear, and doesn’t write or send gigabytes of data.

    3. Dumbledalf said on December 14, 2021 at 12:13 am

      Microsoft are only doing that, because they know they are the monopoly. If Mac and Linux had like 30% worldwide market share, Microsoft would never do that.

      That’s why they used Blink as the rendering engine for their browser – to assert even more monopoly.

    4. just an Ed said on December 13, 2021 at 7:31 pm

      The irony implicit in the last line of your comment is delicious. :-))

    5. olbaze said on December 13, 2021 at 7:29 pm

      I’m on Linux Mint, and I also get that same message when doing the same search. Explain that.

      1. KDE Plasma said on December 14, 2021 at 4:48 am

        Easy. You are lying.

      2. Anonymous said on December 13, 2021 at 9:11 pm

        were you searching on bing? “microsoft advertises their browser in their search engine” shocking!

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