Microsoft appears to be busy interfering with Chrome by giving AI answers to search prompts on Google’s browser. The giant from Redmond is “fighting its corner” when it comes to the browser wars.
Microsoft gives no quarter in its fight to keep users from moving to competitors’ platforms. In February, Neowin reported that Microsoft pushed out full-sized ads for its Edge web browser when people used Edge to download Google’s Chrome browser.
Now, Microsoft has upped its game, leveraging AI – or the appearance of AI – to convince people not to download Google’s browser.
The Verge reported this week that when they tried to install Chrome on their new Windows machine, they were greeted by a full-screen Microsoft Bing AI chatbot window, which declared that it was searching for “Bing features”.
A fake AI chat is really an ad
“This is clearly not Microsoft’s GPT-4 powered chatbot at work — it’s a completely canned interaction”, author Sean Hollister wrote. He even included a screenshot that showed the Bing chat saying “Here’s what I generated for you” and then displaying a series of links and articles promoting the wonders and advantages of the Bing search engine.
Hollister was incensed. “Every search result link is pushed entirely off my screen by this canned ad copy”, he lamented.
But even the outraged Verge editor had to admit that the tactic, while sneaky, was perhaps not quite beyond the pale. “I’m using Microsoft’s search engine in Microsoft’s browser on Microsoft’s operating system, after all — why should Microsoft willingly link me to a competitor?” He mused.
Caught red-handed, Microsoft reacts
Hollister pressed Microsoft for comment and received this generic statement from Microsoft product marketing director Jason Fischel:
“We often experiment with new features, UX, and behaviors to test, learn, and improve experiences for our customers. These tests are often brief and do not necessarily represent what is ultimately or broadly provided to customers”.
Indeed – shortly after The Verge published the story with that comment, Fischel confirmed Microsoft had pulled the plug on the “AI as advert” experiment.
“The experience is no longer flighting”, he explained.