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In response to questions we’ve received from the software distribution and monetization industry, and following our blog announcing our browser modifier policy update, we’d like to provide some details on what we refer to in our policy as “changing browsing experience”.

For us, “changing browsing experience” means behaviors that modify the content of webpages.

We consider programs installed and running on a PC that make webpages look differently than they would on the same browser had those programs not been installed, to be programs that change browsing experience. These programs are required to use the browsers’ extensibility models.

Unwanted software

Unwanted software are programs that alter your Windows experience without your consent or control. We use evaluation criteria to determine what programs are classified as unwanted software. As the software ecosystem evolves, so does our evaluation criteria. To learn more, read these blog entries:

Protecting customers from being intimidated into making an unnecessary purchase

Cleaners ought to be clean (and clear)

A brief discourse on ‘Changing browsing experience’

Keeping browsing experience in users’ hands

Keeping Browsing Experience in Users’ Hands, an Update…

Cleaning up misleading advertisements

Adware: A new approach

Browsers’ extensibility models ensure user choice and control. Extensible browsers present consent prompts that ensure users are asked to grant permission for an extension to be enabled. It is done using a consistent language and placement that is straightforward and clear.

By requiring programs that change browsing experience to use the extensibility models, we ensure that users are kept at the helm of their choice and control. Programs can only make such alterations to webpages when users grant them the permission to do so, using the browsers’ consistent and reliable consent prompting.

Some programs modify browsing access in ways that don’t insert or change web content. We don’t consider these as changing the browsing experience.

Examples of programs that modify browsing access include:

  • VPNs – software type that provides access
  • Parental control programs – software type that restricts access

If these programs don’t insert or change web content, then they are not changing browsing experiences. Therefore, they are not required to use the browsers’ extensibility models.

Our intent with this policy is clear: we are determined to protect our customers’ choice and browsing experience control. The requirement to use the browsers’ supported extensibility models is an important pillar in achieving this goal.


Barak Shein and Michael Johnson


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