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This article was published on April 29, 2016

Microsoft limits user choice by forcing Cortana to search with Bing and Edge

Microsoft limits user choice by forcing Cortana to search with Bing and Edge
Napier Lopez
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Napier Lopez

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Napier Lopez is a writer based in New York City. He's interested in all things tech, science, and photography related, and likes to yo-yo in Napier Lopez is a writer based in New York City. He's interested in all things tech, science, and photography related, and likes to yo-yo in his free time. Follow him on Twitter.

Microsoft is betting big on Cortana, so naturally, it isn’t very happy that some people have been using the assistant with Chome and Google, instead of Edge and Bing.

Solution? Don’t let people use anything other than Edge and Bing. That’ll surely to go over well.

Here’s Microsoft’s justification:

Unfortunately, as Windows 10 has grown in adoption and usage, we have seen some software programs circumvent the design of Windows 10 and redirect you to search providers that were not designed to work with Cortana. The result is a compromised experience that is less reliable and predictable. The continuity of these types of task completion scenarios is disrupted if Cortana can’t depend on Bing as the search provider and Microsoft Edge as the browser. The only way we can confidently deliver this personalized, end-to-end search experience is through the integration of Cortana, Microsoft Edge and Bing – all designed to do more for you.

Basically, the company claims that its results are worse if you use Google. And that makes some sense – Microsoft can more tightly integrate Cortana with its other products than Google can, especially as it makes the assistant more powerful in the future.

But Windows is supposed to be about providing users choice, and modifying Cortana to support Google and Chrome was already enough of a convoluted process that today’s measure seems excessive.

If Microsoft was that concerned about the user experience with other browsers and search engines, it could have simply added a warning prompt before users made the switch, or otherwise made it more difficult to do.

For its part, Microsoft emphasizes that today’s announcement doesn’t affect your ability to set other browsers or search engines as your default; you could disable Cortana and continue to use barebones search with Google, for instance.

But given given Microsoft asks users to enable Cortana during the initial Windows 10 setup process, the move feels slightly shady.

After promising to make Windows more open during Build 2016, the today’s announcement seems counterproductive. Here’s to hoping Microsoft reconsiders.

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