Windows 10 is “effectively overriding” a user’s browser preference – how does this impact search?

Chris Beard, the CEO of Mozilla has written an open letter to Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft saying that he’s disturbed by an aspect of Windows 10 – Chris says that Windows 10 effectively overrides a user’s browser preference. If Microsoft continue to do this, what will the likely outcome be?

That was the third topic on the most recent TWIO episode, and here’s what our guests had to say about it…

STEWART ROGERS: Well it was an interesting roll-out. We covered Windows 10 amazingly. I have to take my hat off to the editorial team who just did ridiculous things around the launch of Windows 10 and one of the things that the editorial team found was a way to force Windows 10 to start downloading. So of course as soon as I was able to see that article I, like everybody else, followed the instructions and sure enough, Windows 10 is wending its way onto my machine.

In terms of the way that it looks, it looks okay. It looks like a good operating system. I have been using the previous iteration for a long, long time, and I have to tell you I’ve never used those tiles on the metro screen more than about two or three times. I basically live in desktop mode. So the fact that it’s got the start menu is neither here nor there. I still find my apps I want to run either on the taskbar where I’ve got them all pinned or through the search.

But I did notice Cortana sitting there and thought I’d give that a go and it’s not as good as using Google Now on my phone, so I probably won’t use it much. And then I noticed a few things happening, such as when I clicked a particular link it wasn’t opening up my paint programme of choice. I had to actually tell it, ‘Well no, this is the one I want to use and this is the one I want to use forever and by the way, you know that, ‘cause that’s what I chose before.’ And then it happened with my browser and it’s opening up the Edge browser instead of Chrome, which is my browser of choice. And I noticed it across all sorts of other places in Windows 10.

Taking away those preferences and replacing them with your default standard apps is a pretty awful thing to do and I fully support Mozilla CEO’s stance on this. If you’ve got that all set up within your operating system and they then go ahead and just change those to the default applications, we’re really rolling it back to when the European Union had such a hard time with Microsoft over forcing people to go down the Internet Explorer route in the first place. I thought we’d got past all of those times but apparently not. Apparently Microsoft are up to all their old tricks again. It’s more than annoying to actually have to go and set all of your default applications up again. The only one that seems to have survived is Skype and of course Microsoft own that, so who knew?!

So I think it’s pretty despicable and actually I fully support Chris Beard in this. I think he’s absolutely nailed it with his open letter and Microsoft really need to do something about it and do something about it quick, ‘cause it’s eroding my confidence in their ability to personalise the operating system to my needs. They’re really personalising it to their needs and that’s not how consumers want you to personalise things.

DAVID BAIN: Great thoughts. Thanks for that. It’s funny, I was saying to someone earlier on today that I didn’t like the experience of Windows 8, or the tiles in Windows 8. I’d never really used that at all and I was just using the same kind of experience as I had with Windows 7. So I didn’t really utilise anything within that upgrade. And I’m a little bit daunted at moving to Windows 10. I haven’t done that yet myself. I’m sure I will end up doing so soon, but I’m certainly intrigued by all the feedback that Microsoft and the general public is sharing at the moment.

Hannah, do you think what Stewart was talking about there will have any impact on your thought process regarding using Windows 10? Are you concerned about moving forward with Windows 10 and having that as your operating system?

HANNAH THORPE: I think Windows 10 is something that I was really interested in and then the second people started getting it and we found out about everything that actually happens, I realised it wasn’t something I was necessarily interested in. So I’d rather not lose all my settings, so I would avoid it as much as possible.

But then from a Windows perspective, you have to look at how they’ve rolled things out over time. With Windows 8, still up until the start of July you had about 60% of people were still using Windows 7 instead of upgrading, purely because it was easier and they could avoid it. And I think Windows are just risking that the same is going to happen. People just aren’t going to go for it.

DAVID BAIN: Yeah, absolutely. It’s funny, I actually bought two PCs just before Windows 8 launched with Windows 7 on it because I wanted Windows 7 for a while. I knew that was a fairly decent operating system.

So Ben, I see you giggling away there. Is that your thoughts as well? Are you happy with it?

BEN MAGEE: It is, actually. It’s pretty bad, negative press for them obviously and I think the announcement of Windows 10 did pique my interest and I’ve had a look around at all the backlash that’s come from it. It’s pretty much quelled that immediately. I’ve just about figured out Windows 8 and I use the little search bar instead of all the tiles. And for me, I can find out how to use that and there don’t seem to be many positives to Windows 10, so I’m going to stay where I am for now, yeah. I think they’ve underestimated the value of user personalisation nowadays. With smartphones you can personalise everything and I think they’ve not really transferred that over to desktops and laptops. That would be my thoughts on it.

DAVID BAIN: Yeah. So why not just try and deliver the best products possible and make people choose you because you have the best products, you know?

BEN MAGEE: Exactly.

DAVID BAIN: A novel perspective on things. Paul, is that your thoughts as well, I take it?

PAUL HUNTER: I don’t use Windows, so it doesn’t really affect me, if I’m honest. I use Apple. I’ve got to admit, I thought it was what Stewart said, obviously Microsoft have been in trouble before with the European Commission and I was looking at court cases earlier on Wikipedia and there was some really interesting stuff relating to this and there was a $1.4 billion fine for blocking fair access to markets, was one of them. That was the wording. And basically after that they said that they don’t believe fines work. So what they want to try in the future is seek assessments that restrict business plans.

So in terms of, you’d think Microsoft wouldn’t push it when they’ve already been in trouble before but obviously they’re happy to again, so if they keep doing this, they’ll find themselves in serious trouble.

DAVID BAIN: Yeah. Maybe get as many users using their browser and Bing and other apps that they have and they’re responsible, perhaps get to the stage where they’re perhaps approaching a fine situation and then backtrack slightly!


DAVID BAIN: Rob, is that an Apple keyboard that I see on your table? Are you a fruit-based operating system fan as well?

ROB WEATHERHEAD: Absolutely. We’re all Apple here at Tecmark, so I can’t comment directly on Windows 10. I mean, the question is would I be annoyed if I’d just installed Windows 10 and it had reset all of my default applications? Absolutely. Am I even remotely surprised that that’s what it does? Not even slightly. I think that’s just their way of forcing their products and systems on people and I guess the interesting question is where would some of their products be if they didn’t do that? Where would Bing’s search market share be if people didn’t have it set as their default search engine on certain applications and not know how to change it? They’d probably be in a worse-off situation, so I don’t expect it to change any time soon.

DAVID BAIN: It’s a shame because that’s the way that a lot of business used to be done and you could almost force people to have something and pre-install things on devices and certainly before the internet you couldn’t change the software that you had on something by and large. But a lot of things I’m sure are going to happen over the next twelve months or so. I’m intrigued to see the uptake of Windows 10, to see if anyone might come in and challenge Windows as a dominating operating system. That may happen. It might take longer to do, but a lot will happen, I’m sure, about it.

Here’s where you can watch the reply of the show that features this discussionThis Week In Organic is the weekly show that debates the ramifications of the latest SEO and content marketing news. Sign-up to watch the next live show at

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