Microsoft has had a heck of a time getting people to use its Edge browser, and it’s not for lack of trying. It spammed Windows 10 users, revamped the browser with a Chromium base, and has even made it more annoying to change your default browser in Windows 11. Edge’s unpopularity isn’t entirely Microsoft’s fault, but it’s not doing itself any favors with the latest change. Microsoft now plans to integrate a purchase financing service called Zip in Edge. But do we really need our browsers selling us loans?
Microsoft made the announcement for “Buy now, pay later” on the Edge insider forums earlier this month, and the response was swift and brutal. Most commenters expressed annoyance that Microsoft would integrate this feature with Edge instead of simply making it an optional extension. They threw around terms like “bloatware” and “cash grab” to describe the move.
Should this feature go live, users will see the Zip option when they click in payment fields (right next to any saved payment methods). You could call this an “ad” if you’re feeling charitable, but it’s a little more troubling than your average ad — this is a browser offering financial services that can come with serious consequences.
Zip lets you split a purchase between $35 and $1,000 into four monthly payments. Rather than offering an interest rate like most loans, users simply pay a $1 fee with each payment. So, that’s $4, which is a good deal if your purchase is on the large side. However, it’s a very high interest rate if the purchase is smaller — as much as 11 percent. In addition, you can get hit with a few extra dollars in late fees if you miss a payment, and non-payment will get you sent to collections and hit with negative marks on your credit report. It’s just like a regular loan in that respect.
Microsoft says it won’t get a cut of sales from Zip, which actually makes this decision even more confounding. It’s not that I want Microsoft to cash in, but why do this at all if it’s not about money? Is there someone on the Edge team who genuinely thinks users will want this? Zip has existed as a standalone service for years (it used to be called Quadpay). If people want this option, they’ll seek it out. It’s also possible the wording on Microsoft’s support page is misleading while not technically wrong. Perhaps Zip paid Microsoft something up front for access to millions of new customers? I have a hard time believing no money is changing hands here.
Zip integration is currently live in the Canary and Dev channels of Edge. The plan is to make it available to all users in Edge version 96, which is the current version. So, Zip loans should come to the stable channel soon.
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