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Hitting new lows: Windows ads beg Chrome users to make Bing their default search engine

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Windows and Edge customers are no strangers to ads, banners, and constant prompts to change the default browser or search engine, reset app defaults, or enable telemetry data—just to name a few. And even though customers are constantly asking Microsoft to relax and take one step back, there is simply no end to the company’s effort to enforce its products on frustrated users.

According to a growing list of reports (and our observations on local machines), Microsoft’s latest attempt to increase its user base is to spam Chrome users with Windows ads begging to set Bing as the default search engine.

Steven Parker, Neowin’s co-founder, discovered the ad on his computer running Windows 10 this morning. The banner tried to tempt him with your typical cheap tricks promising an “improved search experience,” Microsoft Rewards points, and the new AI-powered Bing. Unlike Windows 11 upgrade prompts with two “yes” buttons, this time, the thing lets you refuse the offer with the “Don’t Switch” button (we could not find what happens when you agree since probably no sane Chrome user would accept the generous offer from Microsoft).

An intrusive ad in the bottom-right corner of the screen is not everything you get. Customers who were unlucky enough to experience Microsoft’s latest trick also reported seeing an unknown “BGAUpsell” process located in the C:\Windows\Temp\MUBSTemp folder with denied access.

A quick Google search revealed the first reports of the banner dating back to June 2023 (the BGAUpsell file is signed with a seemingly valid certificate from May 25, 2023). We contacted Microsoft and asked the company to shed some light on the controversial ad, and we will update the article once we have a response.

The banner asking Chrome users to switch to Bing might be an experiment targeting a specific audience in specific regions or other criteria. Virustotal scans show that the executable pings multiple browser-related parameters, such as browser version, defaults, identifier, and more.

Despite making genuinely great products—no one questions that the new Bing is good—Microsoft is getting increasingly desperate with its aggressive marketing, completely ignoring the customer backlash. And with Edge injecting ads on the Chrome website and Windows 10 nagging Chrome users with full-blown banners, one may rightfully ask how hard the company is willing to annoy its core audience for a fraction of new customers and when using a Microsoft-made product will start resembling that Futurama episode about streaming ads into dreams.

The annoyed bird meme

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