Microsoft has been pushing Bing pop-up ads in Chrome on Windows 10 and 11. Windows Latest and The Verge reported on Friday that the ad encourages Chrome users (in bold lettering) to use Bing instead of Google search. “Chat with GPT-4 for free on Chrome! Get hundreds of daily chat turns with Bing Al”, the ad reads. If you click “Yes,” the pop-up will install the “Bing Search” Chrome extension while making Microsoft’s search engine the default.

If you click “Yes” on the ad to switch to Bing, a Chrome pop-up will appear, asking you to confirm that you want to change the browser’s default search engine. “Did you mean to change your search provider?” the pop-up asks. “The ‘Microsoft Bing Search for Chrome’ extension changed search to use bing.com,’” Chrome’s warning states.

Directly beneath that alert, seemingly in anticipation of Chrome’s pop-up, another Windows notification warns, “Wait — don’t change it back! If you do, you’ll turn off Microsoft Bing Search for Chrome and lose access to Bing Al with GPT-4 and DALL-E 3. Select Keep it to stay with Microsoft Bing.”

Essentially, users are caught in a war of pop-ups between one company trying to pressure you into using its AI assistant / search engine and another trying to keep you on its default (which you probably wanted if you installed Chrome in the first place). Big Tech’s battles for AI and search supremacy are turning into obnoxious virtual shouting matches in front of users’ eyeballs as they try to browse the web.

There doesn’t appear to be an easy way to prevent the ad from appearing.

Microsoft reportedly confirmed the pop-up’s authenticity in statements to Windows Latest and The Verge, cringingly painting the move as an opportunity for users. “This is a one-time notification giving people the choice to set Bing as their default search engine on Chrome,” a company representative wrote. “For those who choose to set Bing as their default search engine on Chrome, when signed in with their MSA [Microsoft account] they also get more chat turns in Copilot and chat history.”

In a reminder of how friendly its intrusive ads supposedly are to user freedom, it added, “We value providing our customers with choice, so there is an option to dismiss the notification.” Engadget emailed Microsoft for independent verification, but the company didn’t immediately respond. We’ll update this article if or when we hear back.

Windows Latest described the advertisement as coming from a “server-side update” and said the ad wasn’t part of a Windows update. Instead, the outlet speculated that it’s linked to BCILauncher.EXE or BingChatInstaller.EXE, two processes Microsoft reportedly added to “some Windows systems” on March 13.


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