Microsoft in what appears to be a move to promote its un-loved Edge browser has released the Windows Defender Browser Protection extension for Chrome.
Chrome already has Google’s Safe Browsing technology to warn users against visiting phishing and malware sites, so there doesn’t seem to be much reason for Microsoft to release a Chrome add-on that does the same thing.
However, according to Microsoft, the two are not equal: the Windows Defender Browser Protection extension offers superior protection to Chrome that Windows 10 users would see if they only used Edge.
“The Windows Defender Browser Protection extension for Google Chrome allows you to add an additional layer of protection when browsing online, powered by the same trusted intelligence found in Microsoft Edge. The extension alerts you about known malicious links, and gives you a clear path back to safety,” Microsoft explains.
As with Google's Safe Browsing, Microsoft's Chrome extension will produce a big red interstitial warning if a user is about to visit a harmful site.
Microsoft points to a study published in October 2017 by NSS Labs comparing how effective major web browsers were at blocking phishing threats and socially engineered malware.
NSS Labs, which said it wasn’t paid by any browser maker, found that Edge protected against 99 percent of socially engineered malware, while Chrome only blocked 87 percent. Mozilla, which relies on Google’s Safe Browsing API, blocked 70 percent.
The study looked at the SmartScreen URL scanner and Application Reputation, two services Microsoft builds into Edge and IE 11 that are equivalent of Google’s Safe Browsing.
NSS Labs also found that Edge blocked 92.3 percent of phishing attacks, beating Chrome’s block rate of 74.5 percent and Firefox’s 61.1 percent phishing block rate.
The NSS Labs study was published a month after Google published reports it commissioned from two independent security firms comparing Chrome security features with IE 11 and Edge. Among several findings, the two firms found that Safe Browsing on Chrome more accurately blocked threats than SmartScreen for IE and Edge. In other words, Microsoft may have been producing false alarms.
Regardless of whether Edge beats Chrome in blocking phishing and malware, Microsoft’s modern browser has yet to attract more than five percent of the world’s browser users, according to figures from StatCounter and NetMarketshare.
It's unlikely Microsoft's new Defender extension will break Chrome’s dominance over desktop browsing on Windows, but at least some Chrome users on Windows machines can try it out to see whether Microsoft's extra layer of security makes a difference.