Apple, Google, Microsoft and others have essentially locked users into their web browsers through the default settings in their OS platforms, giving platform makers an unfair advantage over competitors, according to a new report from Firefox maker Mozilla.

Mozilla researchers found that every platform manufacturer “wants to keep people in their walled garden” by directing mobile and desktop users to Apple Safari, Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge. “All five major platforms today (Google, Apple, Meta, Amazon, Microsoft) associate their respective browsers with their operating systems and set them as the default operating system on the primary home screen or docking station,” Mozilla wrote in a 66- the page.

Mozilla claims that while many people report knowing how to install a browser in theory, “many people never actually install an alternative browser in practice.”

Browser users also fear that the switch will cause them to lose years of data, such as passwords, bookmarks, and history, and since OS developers aren’t helping to make that data easier to migrate, further switching is hindered . “This increases the power of the operating system, which can choose to either suffocate the competition (by doing nothing or even prevent switching) or help users (by making data transfers easier),” Mozilla claims.

Forcing users into a pre-selected browser also stifles innovation, Mozilla said. “Lack of browser diversity leaves people at risk when it comes to improved security and privacy.” “Browsers are powered by a ‘browser engine’ that significantly affects the browser’s capabilities,” Mozilla said.

Apple, Mozilla notes, requires all developers implementing iOS browsers to use Apple’s own Safari WebKit engine. When WebKit security issues occur, all iOS browser users are equally vulnerable until Apple finds, fixes, and publishes fixes. “This is just one reason why a cross-browser suite is desirable,” Mozilla said.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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