The new Windows update made me think I'd installed malware, but it was just Microsoft's latest attempt to try and fool me into using Bing

A furious woman punches through her laptop. screen.
(Image credit: SI Photography via Getty Images)

Not for the first time, Microsoft has struck upon a winning formula for irritating the hell out of Windows users: pop-up ads in your browser! The latest Windows update was released several days ago, though I only got around to it today, and after installation inserts pop-up adverts into Google Chrome.

I couldn't believe what I was seeing: a little box comes up in the bottom right corner of the browser, advertising the Bing search engine and BingAI. My first thought was that I'd downloaded something malicious, perhaps while fiddling with mods, because the pop-up didn't exactly look classy, more like the kind of thing you see on suspicious websites. But I set off a quick antivirus scan and googled the issue (in Chrome naturally), and quickly found plenty of folk complaining about the same thing.

So first of all: Really, Microsoft? Most of us rely on Windows, it has an absolute stranglehold on the OS market, and is therefore able to intrude on our PC experience like few other companies (outside perhaps Google itself). This particular pop-up will, if you click "yes" to its prompt, set Bing as the default search engine within Chrome.

It did this last year, too, adding pop-ups to Windows 10 and 11 that appeared over the top of other apps suggesting Microsoft-made alternatives, before removing them due to "unintended behaviour."

Microsoft has confirmed the pop-ups are genuine Microsoft adverts, and says they should only appear once. Well, I've seen at least two, and frankly don't trust Redmond on this, because it's just always coming up with new ways to taint the Windows experience.

"This is a one-time notification giving people the choice to set Bing as their default search engine on Chrome," Microsoft comms director Caitlin Roulston told The Verge. Almost unbelievably she frames this as a perk for users, who get some Copilot bonuses if they accept the BingAI prompt, then ends with this magnificently brazen claim: "We value providing our customers with choice, so there is an option to dismiss the notification."

What really annoys me about Windows is that it doesn't respect my choices over time, but seems to override them on a whim in certain updates and make my machine start doing things Microsoft wants but I don't want. I wouldn't be so bothered about Microsoft's various attempts to fool me into using Bing if I could just say "no thanks" at some point and have that respected over multiple updates. 

When Windows is annoying, Windows has failed. And Windows has become increasingly annoying over recent years, like when it added those irritating pictures to Windows search bar, or tried to add a Bing and Edge searchbox to your taskbar. It's done updates that automatically launch an Edge browser session once complete, and just generally every time there's an update I wonder what fresh torture Microsoft's engineers have come up with. Hell, it's enough to make you nostalgic for Clippy.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."