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Microsoft Edge stops 'stealing' Chrome tabs from some users

Edge settings import windowImage: Michael Crider/Foundry

Are you sure you want to use Google Chrome on your Windows PC? Are you really sure? Don’t worry, if you’re not, Microsoft will find a way to ask you again. In fact, it’ll ask you even if you are. And you might find yourself using Edge even if you’ve explicitly told Windows that yes, in fact, you are sure that you want to use Chrome. That’s what a growing number of irate Windows 11 users are reporting with some recent updates, after they found Edge launching with their last-open Chrome tabs.

Update, February 16th, 2024: Microsoft has both claimed that this issue was caused by an erroneous bug in Edge’s data import feature, and that the bug has been fixed with version 121.0.2277.128 issued yesterday. The original story continues below.

The Verge editor Tom Warren experienced this firsthand, discovering that Edge launched when he rebooted Windows after a software update, disturbingly complete with the Chrome tabs he had opened before shutting down. It appeared that, not only had Edge decided to take over as the default browser (something that it’s been incredibly aggressive about for years), but it had been syncing data from Chrome in the background without Warren’s knowledge or permission.

Warren isn’t alone in experiencing this. A small but vocal number of users have been reporting similar behavior from Edge over the last few days, including those who’ve specified that they want Chrome as their default browser and don’t want to sync or import data into Edge in any situation. Edge will generally ask permission to import tab and bookmark data from other browsers — it’s a common feature, which Chrome and other competitors offer as well — but it isn’t supposed to be happening without that permission. Edge has, well, an an edge on the competition by being the default in Windows, and syncing across Microsoft user accounts with other settings data.

It isn’t clear if this new behavior is yet another example of Microsoft being overzealous and pushy trying to get Windows users onto its first-party services, like a creepy barfly who won’t take no for an answer, or a bug that’s causing this behavior to be even more in-your-face than normal. The behavior seems to be triggered by a Windows 11 software update, and it isn’t universal — none of us here at PCWorld can replicate it. Edge has a setting to automatically import data from the default browser every time it launches. But when I checked on my PC, that setting is disabled, as I expected.

But the fact that it’s showing up for a number of users, intentionally or otherwise, is more damning evidence that Windows needs to freakin’ chill the hell out with its heavy-handed attempts to get users onto Microsoft’s first-party software and services.

Michael is a former graphic designer who’s been building and tweaking desktop computers for longer than he cares to admit. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

Recent stories by Michael Crider:

Microsoft made DOS 4.0 open-source, but not everyone is happyControversial Windows 11 Start menu ads begin rolling outGrab a copy of Windows 11 Pro for just $20

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