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  • Microsoft experiments with pushing Office progressive web apps onto Win10 machines – without your permission

    Posted on October 14th, 2020 at 19:12 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    I like PWAs, but this is no way to get the ball rolling. (There’s a good discussion of Progressive Web Apps on Wikipedia.)

    Microsoft has PWA versions of five apps: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote. You can manually install the PWA versions of those apps on your Win10 machine by using Edge (navigate to the app in the Windows Store, click Settings, Apps, Install this site as an app). You end up with Start menu entries for each. Click on one of the Start entries, and the web-based version of the app appears, inside a minimal browser shell.

    Mayank Parmar over on Windows Latest noticed:

    Microsoft now appears to be experimenting with a new feature that will add [the PWA version of] Office apps to your Windows 10 device without your permission.

    The rollout isn’t happening on all machines. Says Parmar:

    Over the weekend, Microsoft updated the Chromium Edge (Stable) for Windows 10 to quietly install four Office web apps on some devices. This ‘feature’ appears to be rolling out to select testers in the Windows Insider program, but it could also show up on non-Insider machines.

    Günter Born calls them “Windows 10 behavior as a malware?” He’s got a good point – although, to be fair, it looks like the only machines being targeted right now are actively in the Insider Program.

    Lawrence Abrams at BleepingComputer says:

    Those who do not wish to have these PWAs installed can uninstall them directly in Microsoft Edge through the edge://apps URL or via the Programs and Features Settings page [in Windows 10].

    Surprise!

  • Dear Microsoft, could you make Edge a little more obnoxious?

    Posted on September 25th, 2020 at 14:02 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    So I’m sitting here plunking away on one of my production Win10 version 1909 machines, when a new update appears.

    2020-08 Microsoft Edge Update for Windows 10 Version 1909 for x64-based Systems (KB4576754)

    I needed to reboot the system – it had been running for almost two days without a reboot (sarcasm alert) – and when Windows came back up for air, Edge appeared full-screen. I tried clicking lots of things, but it wouldn’t disengage. In the end I navigated through a four-screen “tutorial” that, by default, wanted me to log Edge in to my Microsoft Account and oh-so-helpfully retain Edge surfing information to, you know, make my shopping experiences more tailored.

    When I finally got through unchecking all of the snoop settings, and closed Edge, it showed this on my Taskbar:

    And that didn’t go away until I clicked the “X” in the upper right corner.

    It’s entirely possible that Edge is the greatest browser ever – that it’ll make me brighter, more productive and definitely debonair. But it really twists my gizzard when an app takes over my machine and forces me through a series of privacy search-and-destroy questions.

    I’ve been playing with Edge. I think I’ll give it a pass for a while.

    UPDATE: I see that Shawn Brink on Tenforums has a registry hack to keep Windows Update from installing Chredge. Far as I’m concerned, MS can install it — after all, it is their machine (cough) — but I’m not going to use it for a while.

  • Microsoft Edge Privacy Whitepaper

    Posted on April 19th, 2020 at 09:23 joep517 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Microsoft has published a very detailed whitepaper on Microsoft Edge data collection. It is very long and detailed. It explains what data is collected, why it is collected, and how to turn off the collection. No doubt this is a response to the article that surfaced a couple of weeks ago concerning tracking in browsers. You may read the article at Microsoft Edge Privacy Whitepaper.

  • Privacy update: Brave is the most private browser, Edge blabs like crazy

    Posted on March 2nd, 2020 at 15:12 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    An interesting white paper from Prof Leith, Trinity College, Dublin (PDF):

    We measure the connections to backend servers made by six browsers: Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, Brave Browser, Microsoft Edge and Yandex Browser, during normal web browsing. Our aim is to assess the privacy risks associated with this back-end data exchange. We find that the browsers split into three distinct groups from this privacy perspective. In the first (most private) group lies Brave, in the second Chrome, Firefox and Safari and in the third (least private) group lie Edge and Yandex…

    [When typing the text leith.ie/nothingtosee.html,] Edge sends text to www.bing.com as it is typed. A request is sent for almost every letter typed, resulting in a total of 25 requests. Each request contains contains a cvid value that is persistent across requests although it changes across browser restarts. Once the typed URL has been navigated to Edge then makes two additional requests: one to web.vortex.data. microsoft.com and one to nav.smartscreen.microsoft.com. The request to nav.smartscreen.microsoft.com includes the URL entered while the request to web.vortex.data.microsoft.com transmits two cookies…

    For Brave with its default settings we did not find any use of identifiers allowing tracking of IP address over time, and no sharing of the details of web pages visited with backend servers. Chrome, Firefox and Safari all share details of web pages visited with backend servers. For all three this happens via the search autocomplete feature, which sends web addresses to backend servers in realtime as they are typed…

    From a privacy perspective Microsoft Edge and Yandex are qualitatively different from the other browsers studied. Both send persistent identifiers than can be used to link requests (and associated IP address/location) to back end servers. Edge also sends the hardware UUID of the device to Microsoft [emphasis added] and Yandex similarly transmits a hashed hardware identifier to back end servers. As far as we can tell this behaviour cannot be disabled by users. In addition to the search autocomplete functionality that shares details of web pages visited, both transmit web page information to servers that appear unrelated to search autocomplete.

    So it looks like the new Edge (Leith says the tested version is 80.0.361.48, which is definitely Chredge) not only tracks what you’re doing, it flags all of your actions with a hardware-unique identifier.

    Somebody tell me again how Microsoft values your privacy?

    Thx Catalin Cimpanu.

  • Say hello to the latest and greatest Microsoft Edge

    Posted on January 20th, 2020 at 01:00 Tracey Capen Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    WOODY’S WINDOWS WATCH

    By Woody Leonhard

    Will Microsoft’s last-ditch effort to reinstate its Internet-browser hegemony succeed?

    There’s plenty to like about the new Chromium-based Edge — but plenty of shortcomings, too.

    Almost as soon as Microsoft won the Internet-browser race in the 2000s, its hold on that hard-fought market began to erode. By May 2007, Firefox was running on roughly a quarter of all Windows PCs. In 2009, Google’s Chrome burst onto the scene in a big way — and for Microsoft, it’s been all downhill ever since.

    Read the full story in AskWoody Plus Newsletter 17.3.0 (2020-01-20).

  • New Chredge logo

    Posted on November 3rd, 2019 at 06:50 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    When Microsoft finally releases the new Chromium-based version of Edge, this will likely be the logo.

    Sonic the Chredge Hog?

    Thx Paul Thurrott.

  • Win7 share declining slowly, Edge still in the doldrums

    Posted on November 1st, 2019 at 07:00 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    According to NetMarketShare, Win10 share usage is up from 52% in September to 54% in October. Win7 share went from 29% to 27%.

    Statcounter says that Chrome went from 62 to almost 63% usage share, while Edge went from 3.1 to 3.0%.

    All numbers subject to the usual disclaimers – based on flawed sampling, it ain’t gospel, more like reading tea leaves, and all that really matters is long-term trends.

  • Why does nobody use Edge?

    Posted on August 12th, 2019 at 09:43 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Excellent rant/position piece on Quora from Jin Kim, who’s a Product Manager at Microsoft:

    Microsoft has had a history of trying to compete with other successful products and services and losing focus on making the core fundamentals of that product better, but instead, adding some “value-add” feature to out-spec our competitors. But seriously, we forget that we are not very good at addressing the core fact that we need to focus on the fundamentals.

    Oh yeah and look, we threw in the towel and now about to release the new EDGE built on CHROMIUM!!! Wow, whodathunkit!

    Give this guy a standing ovation. And a raise.

    Thx @rpodric.