Browser Wars

Google is trying to scare Edge users with subtle security threats

Chromium’s daddy wants you to come back home to Chrome.

Steven Litton / EyeEm/EyeEm/Getty Images

If you go to the Chrome web store on Microsoft’s Edge browser you’ll get a slightly unsettling message: “Google recommends switching to Chrome to use extensions securely.” But of course it does, because all your data belong to Google. What were you thinking trying to use a rival Chromium-based browser? Did you really think Google was going to take your defection lying down?

Microsoft’s Edge threatens Chrome’s dominance — When Edge replaced Internet Explorer, Google had little to worry about. By letting IE languish, Microsoft had allowed Google’s Chrome to flourish, becoming the dominant browser. But when Edge switched to Chromium, it became a genuine threat, because the shared basis between it and Chrome makes switching relatively rudimentary, and users can continue to use the very same extensions they do on Chrome, in addition to Microsoft-specific ones.

Windows Latest spotted the not-so-gentle nudge from Google, but says the same recommendation doesn’t come up when using other Chromium-based browsers like Brave or Opera. Clearly, Microsoft is the target, despite the assistance it has been providing the Chromium project with.

Edge is likely as secure as Chrome — Given their shared DNA, there’s no good reason to think using Chrome extensions with Edge is any less secure than using them with Google’s own browser, but plenty of people might see the warning and flee in terror. Though, now that it’s public knowledge, we wouldn’t be surprised if the recommendation vanishes. Because unless Google can substantiate its warning it looks a lot like fodder for an(other) antitrust lawsuit.