As VentureBeat has spotted, run a search for Chrome or Firefox on Bing in the U.S. and the search engine will gently suggest that you might want to try Microsoft Edge instead, assuming you’re searching from a Windows 10 machine — a black bar appears at the top of the search results saying “Microsoft recommends Microsoft Edge for Windows 10.” A link to an Edge promo page is included too.
Apparently the bar only appears on the first search and is limited to the U.S. for now, but it may convince some users not to bother installing an alternative browser on their brand new Windows 10 system. At the moment, Edge is a Windows 10 exclusive, so there’s little point promoting it on machines running older software or Apple’s desktop operating system.
Shady marketing tactic or a valid strategy in the latest round of browser wars? You decide. Google doesn’t shy away from promoting its own browser on as many Google services as it can, though there would be little point hijacking searches for “Microsoft Edge” from Windows 10 computers as users will already have it installed.
Microsoft has already come under fire from Mozilla for making Edge the default browser in Windows 10, even if users are upgrading on a system that previously used Chrome or Firefox. To be fair to Microsoft, it makes both Windows and Edge, so it’s reasonable to claim that the company makes the browser that’s most compatible with its operating system — and besides the one-time black bar, the search results aren’t otherwise tampered with.
“Microsoft Edge was designed exclusively for Windows 10 with features and functionality that enhance the browsing experience such as Cortana, Web Note, and Quick answers,” a Microsoft spokeswoman told VentureBeat via email. “These notifications were created to provide people with quick, easy information that can help them get to know these experiences better. That said, with Windows 10 you can easily choose the default browser and search engine of your choice.”