Microsoft Revokes User Choice Of Cortana’s Browser In Windows 10

Last night, an update was sent out to Windows 10 ensuring “Microsoft Edge will be the only browser that will launch when you search from the Cortana box”. This update broke all Cortana search redirection solutions, including Chrometana.

Cortana Screenshot

Cortana searches will now exclusively launch in Microsoft Edge, preventing other browsers from redirecting searches

Microsoft has revoked the user’s ability to choose what browser is launched by Cortana, enforcing Bing as the search engine used by Cortana queries. They claim this is done in the interest of “Protecting the Integrated Search Experience in Windows 10”, as “some software programs circumvent the design of Windows 10 and redirect you to search providers that were not designed to work with Cortana”. Chrometana is one of these software programs.

“Personalized Search Experiences” are the guise covering Microsoft’s self-interest

It’s been a good bit since Microsoft used the integration argument to justify monopolistic actions. In 1998, United States v. Microsoft Corporation was initiated over Microsoft’s choice to bundle Internet Explorer with Windows. This case focused largely on the Windows application programming interface (API) preferring Microsoft’s browser to other browsers. APIs provide software developers with the tools necessary to create software within software, such as a web browser within Windows.

While NetScape believed there was an exclusive API for Internet Explorer in Windows, Microsoft’s defense claimed that the merge of IE and Windows was “the result of innovation and competition”. The courts disagreed with Microsoft, reaching a settlement that forced them to share the API used for Internet Explorer.

Bill Gates Deposition

Bill Gates giving a deposition defending an email he sent stating: “Avoid cold or hot war with Netscape. Keep them from sabotaging our platform evolution.”

18 years later, Microsoft is again taking part in anti-consumer monopolistic practices. Competition has enabled other web browsers and search engines to greatly overshadow Microsoft Edge and Bing. On launch, Windows 10 enforced Bing with Cortana, but allowed for Cortana to work with other web browsers. Due to the success of redirection solutions like Chrometana (and Google’s implementation of core Chrometana features in the latest Chrome beta), Microsoft restricted Cortana to only work with Microsoft Edge.

The Windows Experience blog post about this update explicitly states “Microsoft Edge will be the only browser that will launch when you search from the Cortana box”. This gives the Edge browser an exclusive interface within Windows, very similar to the APIs that Microsoft was forced to open during their settlement in 2001.

The consumers have already spoken, Microsoft, and they want to choose their own browser. Chrometana alone has over half a million installations, and their desire for choice can be seen in the 100+ 5-star reviews that we’ve received on the Chrome Web Store.


Chrometana reviews emphasize the distaste towards Bing

History has shown similar decisions working out poorly for Microsoft. The anti-consumer practices demonstrated in this Windows update are possibly illegal, and should be revoked.

For the time being, Chrometana is broken and all development is halted. We don’t forsee a simple solution to the change Microsoft introduced yesterday, but we will be working hard to try and find a technical workaround.

Chrome 50 Includes Windows 10 Desktop Search Redirection


As of Chrome 50, Google has included Windows desktop search redirection. This allows a user to redirect all Bing searches performed by Cortana without additional software. This is a huge victory for Chrome users, giving back the control of what search engine is used by Cortana (Firefox has had this feature for months).

These changes to Chrome will allow more freedom in future development of Chrometana. Assuming Google’s implementation is reliable and consistent within other locales, we can double down on our focus of adding new features for Chrometana 2.0.

We’re very happy Google has chosen to implement a feature into Chrome that enables the majority of Chrometana’s original functionality. We consider the user’s ability to choose their search engine beyond important, and we’re happy to see Google shares this perspective

Half a Million…

Well, that’s a milestone if I do say so myself. Late last week, Chrometana broke half a million users. 500,000 installations, each one thwarting Microsoft’s attempts to force Bing onto Windows 10 users.

Huge thanks to all of the early, middle, and late Chrometana contributors. We have some really fun things coming up soon, including the official release of Chrometana 2.0. Stay tuned!

Addressing the Permissions Change in 1.1.1 (We Are Not Reading Your Browsing History)

I’ve been getting a lot of comments about concerns for a new permission Chrometana requests in the newest update. These new warnings are a result of adding tabs permission. We have no direct access to your browser history, but since we could theoretically recreate it, Google posts the warning. I agree it’s obnoxious that Google won’t let us access tab URLs without requesting this permissions, but so be it.

This change was made in a pull request by kyleadd with the goal of reinforcing Chrometana’s behavior even when Chrome’s closed. This would allow us to move away from using background pages, reducing Chrometana’s resource use to nearly 0.

I would also like to take this chance to remind everyone that Chrometana is open source, and the version on the web store is an exact copy of the source on GitHub. If at any point a permission change concerns you, you can easily check the source, as many already do.

And of course, there’s a Reddit thread where I’m most likely to respond.

Thanks for helping make Chrometana great

We’ve made a blog!

Hey Chrometana fans! I’m Theo, developer of Chrometana. I made this blog to allow the Chrometana developers to more directly communicate with our users about what we’re doing, when we’re doing it, and where we’re trying to go with it. If you’re looking to install Chrometana, go download it here!