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Microsoft is once again harassing Chrome users with malware-like Bing ads

Ah, here we go again.

Microsoft is back to its classic tactics of harassing users to make them switch from competing services. Multiple posts on Reddit and other social media report that the company is once pedaling malware-like popup banners asking Chrome users to set Bing as the default search engine in exchange for free access to GPT-4.

The concept is not new. In 2023, Microsoft promoted Bing and Microsoft Rewards using the same tactic but pulled it shortly after, claiming it was unintended. The same "unintended" banner is now back in the same form. Totally intended this time.

Bing ad in Windows 11

Adware like this is pretty common on Windows, which is why affected customers worry if their PCs are exposed to malware. In a statement to The Verge, a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed that the banner is legit and that it is a "one-time notification" that offers people "the choice to set Bing as their default search engine on Chrome." Caitlin Roulston, Microsoft's director of communication, highlighted that the company "values providing its customers with choice," so there is a generously provided dismiss button. Yay, the choice!

Despite constant assurances that it values users and their feedback, Microsoft does not show any signs of willingness to take a step back. Microsoft Edge still injects massive banners on the official Chrome website, and it was even caught red-handed stealing user data from Chrome. Microsoft, however, said the latter was a bug that the company later fixed in a Microsoft Edge update.

After investing billions into OpenAI and creating Copilot, Microsoft is trying hard to make customers use it. Besides full-blown Copilot Pro ads (even on the lock screen), the company is testing questionable practices like opening Copilot when your system starts or when you hover the cursor over the Copilot icon.

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