Microsoft is using malware-like pop-ups in Windows 11 to get people to ditch Google

Roger Stringer Roger Stringer
August 30, 2023
3 min read
Microsoft is using malware-like pop-ups in Windows 11 to get people to ditch Google

Tom Warren, for The Verge:

I thought I had malware on my main Windows 11 machine this weekend. There I was minding my own business in Chrome before tabbing back to a game and wham a pop-up appeared asking me to switch my default search engine to Microsoft Bing in Chrome. Stunningly, Microsoft now thinks it’s ok to shove a pop-up in my face above my apps and games just because I dare to use Chrome instead of Microsoft Edge.

This isn’t a normal notification, either. It didn’t appear in the notification center in Windows 11, nor is it connected to the part of Windows 11 that suggests new features to you. It’s quite literally a rogue executable file that has somehow appeared in c:\windows\temp\mubstemp and is digitally signed by Microsoft.

“We are aware of these reports and have paused this notification while we investigate and take appropriate action to address this unintended behavior,” says Caitlin Roulston, director of communications, in a statement to The Verge.

I have no idea why Microsoft thinks it’s ok to fire off these pop-ups to Windows 11 users in the first place. I wasn’t alone in thinking it was malware, with posts dating back three months showing Reddit users trying to figure out why they were seeing the pop-up.


You might argue that this is Microsoft’s operating system, or that when using Microsoft’s browser and search engine it’s well within its rights to try and sway people away from Chrome. After all, Google runs similar notifications on its webpages to get people to use Chrome or it’s annoying YouTube premium spam. But Microsoft’s behaviors here are totally beyond a simple webpage prompt. I shouldn’t have to be dismissing pop-ups that appear on top of my apps and games, or ones that magically appear after I update my copy of Windows.

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