Mozilla CEO cries foul over Windows 10 upgrade process

July 31, 2015 // 11:11 a.m.

Tags: #browser #edge #firefox #internet-explorer #microsoft-edge #satya-nadella #windows-10

Companies: #microsoft #mozilla

Chris Beard, chief executive of browser-maker Mozilla, has written an open letter to Microsoft head Satya Nadella complaining of the way Windows 10 treats third-party browsers.

Microsoft's latest operating system has already been installed on a claimed 14 million devices and rising since its launch on the 29th of this month, but not everyone is happy. Chris Beard, the chief executive of Firefox maker Mozilla, has voiced his particular concerns in an open letter to his counterpart at Microsoft, Satya Nadella - and it's no surprise to see that Beard's complaints revolve around the browser experience.

Windows 10, like versions of Windows before it stretching all the way back to Windows 95, comes with a default web-browser pre-installed in most markets. In fact, it comes with two: Edge, the next-generation browser launched with the operating system, and Internet Explorer, kept around for backwards compatibility purposes. It's the sort of thing that has got Microsoft in trouble before, forcing the company to ship a special version of Windows 7 for Europe and introduce a browser ballot screen which allows users to pick a third-party browser to replace the defaults.

Windows 10, though, is behaving a little naughtily, Beard claims. 'The update experience appears to have been designed to throw away the choice your customers have made about the Internet experience they want, and replace it with the Internet experience Microsoft wants them to have,' Beard explains in his open letter to Nadella. 'When we first saw the Windows 10 upgrade experience that strips users of their choice by effectively overriding existing user preferences for the Web browser and other apps, we reached out to your team to discuss this issue. Unfortunately, it didn’t result in any meaningful progress, hence this letter.'

Beard admits that it's 'still technically possible' for users to preserve their previous settings and defaults during the upgrade, including their choice of third-party browser, but argues that 'the design of the whole upgrade experience and the default settings APIs have been changed to make this less obvious and more difficult. It now takes more than twice the number of mouse clicks, scrolling through content and some technical sophistication for people to reassert the choices they had previously made in earlier versions of Windows. It’s confusing, hard to navigate and easy to get lost.

'These changes aren’t unsettling to us because we’re the organisation that makes Firefox,
' Beard claims. 'They are unsettling because there are millions of users who love Windows and who are having their choices ignored, and because of the increased complexity put into everyone’s way if and when they choose to make a choice different than what Microsoft prefers.'

Microsoft has not responded to Beard's open letter.
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