MICROSOFT IS back in 'let's see what we can get away with' mode, as it starts experimenting with overriding your default browser with its own Microsoft Edge.
In the latest Skip Ahead build (17623) of Windows 10 for its Insiders, the built-in Windows Mail client has been set to open any links within emails with Microsoft Edge, even if you've set another browser (Chrome, Firefox, Opera etc) as your default.
Usually, when it goes batshit like this, it does it very quietly, but this time the Windows Blog even has the audacity to explain in full why this act of anti-competitive defiance is 'in our users best interests' - or to put it another way 'why we know you better than you do'.
It says: 'For Windows Insiders in the Skip Ahead ring, we will begin testing a change where links clicked on within the Windows Mail app will open in Microsoft Edge, which provides the best, most secure and consistent experience on Windows 10 and across your devices.
'With built-in features for reading, note-taking, Cortana integration, and easy access to services such as SharePoint and OneDrive, Microsoft Edge enables you to be more productive, organized and creative without sacrificing your battery life or security. As always, we look forward to feedback from our WIP community.'
If we believed that for a second - or even if we thought the end justified the means, we'd say so. But yet again, this appears to be a self-serving act by Microsoft.
After all - whose computer is it anyway?
Microsoft Edge takes up just 4.99 per cent of Windows desktop browsing worldwide, according to the most recent figures from Netmarketshare.
Yes. That's Windows desktop browsing. All browsing (across other form factors and platforms) the figure drops to 2.03 per cent.
If we're generous and just look at Windows 10 browsing, that figure is still only 12.85 per cent - and that's the browser that comes preinstalled and default out of the box and the only one that Cortana will use.
Chrome amongst Windows 10 users stands at 63.88 per cent, by the way.
This means in the past five years both Microsoft and Apple have given users something pretentious called 'Edge' that they're not happy about.
So understandably, Microsoft is desperate. It has already stopped work on the aging Internet Explorer save for keeping it secure and Edge just doesn't seem to be capturing the imagination.
What isn't understandable, though, is that despite all it has learned from Updategate and many of its other 'we know what's good for you, but especially us' moves, the company thinks it is so untouchable that it can poison those around it without any fear of reprisals.
Wait - that sounds like something else. Never mind.
The point is - the tech press are pushing back, the Insiders are pushing back, but it seems that we're stuck with this cycle of trying it on and backpedaling - so don't take your eye off the Feedback Hub.
More worryingly still - this has echoes of the anti-trust rulings that led to the so-called 'browser ballot' in the EU. Given that's only been removed in the last five years, it seems Microsoft is quite happy to risk the same thing all over again, and the only explanation is that it thinks it can.