Call it the Teamsification of Microsoft Edge: the software giant revealed that it will add yet another superfluous feature to its web browser. And this one is maybe not such a great idea.
“Usually, “Buy now, pay later,” or BNPL, is offered in specific e-commerce websites like Target, Walmart,” Microsoft’s Mei Hua explains of the new feature in the well-hidden announcement post. “But now, Microsoft partners with 3rd party Zip (previously Quadpay) to offer a BNPL payment option at [the] browser level. It means any purchase between $35 – $1,000 you make through Microsoft Edge can be split into 4 installments over 6 weeks.”
Yeah. And is that really a good idea?
As with any financial discussion, we should acknowledge that there are people who might take advantage of such a thing responsibly. And that there are those who simply can’t afford the thing they’re buying and are taking advantage of this feature irresponsibly, and that doing so could be part of a pattern of abuse that has long-term implications. Put more simply by an old adage, yes, we can do this thing, but no one ever asked if we should.
So there’s that. But I also take great exception with the many features that Microsoft continues to add to its browser. Sure, these things help differentiate it from the competition. But piling on the features makes Edge bloated and busy, especially for the majority of people who don’t want them. And web browsers already have an extensions model for adding functionality that doesn’t belong in the core browser. In its blind grab for extraneous revenue sources, Microsoft is starting to drive away its biggest fans.
There’s a simple answer to this problem, of course: Edge should simply advertise optional features during its first-run experience so that users who do want this dreck can add them. And then it can advertise optional new features, once, to existing users when they are made available. I know. It’s almost too elegant.
As for this BNPL nonsense, this feature is currently available in the Microsoft Edge Canary and Dev channels. But it will be made available by default to all users in Microsoft Edge in version 96. So enjoy that credit application process the first time you use it. But, seriously. Don’t use it.