DuckDuckGo’s browser is finally available for Windows users. About nine months after launching a browser for the Mac, the privacy-focused search engine company is offering Windows users a very similar product. It is available now and the pitch is the same as before. DuckDuckGo is a browser and search engine that does not collect any data and does not track you on the web.
The DuckDuckGo browser looks and behaves like Chrome or Edge, with a series of tabs across the top and a large text box for searching and entering URLs. (DuckDuckGo’s search engine is the default setting when you install the browser, but you can change it if for whatever reason you care deeply about browser privacy, not search privacy.) DuckDuckGo offers some of its own features, such as viewing YouTube. do. The company calls Duck Player, which removes all ad targeting, tracking, and recommendations from YouTube pages.
The DuckDuckGo team has been working on a Windows app for several years, said Peter Dolanjski, the company’s head of product. It took longer than other platforms, partly because Windows development was new to the team, but also because the Windows ecosystem was a uniquely complex one. “There are many hardware and software variants, touchscreens and screen resolutions,” he says. “It’s taking a long time to make sure this all works.” The app itself is based on Windows’ WebView2 technology and uses the same Blink rendering engine used by Chrome and most other browsers.
Adding Windows to the mix means DuckDuckGo now has a solid cross-platform browser that can keep up with Chrome and Edge around the world. The browser works on Android, iOS, Windows and Mac, so DuckDuckGo can retrieve your data anywhere. The Windows app is still in beta and is missing some features, such as support for extensions, but Dolanjski says it will be upgraded quickly.
DuckDuckGo is still mostly known for its search engine, but CEO Gabriel Weinberg says the company’s vision is bigger than that. He likes to refer to DuckDuckGo as “an easy button for privacy.” “Search alone doesn’t really address the privacy damage people are concerned about,” he says. “Like ads following you, unstable targeting, people stealing your personal information. Search is part of it, but there are many trackers hiding behind websites.”
The perfect way to help people browse the web more privately is to create a web browser. The company actually found it easier to get users to switch entirely from Chrome than to have them install a Chrome extension.
DuckDuckGo sees the gap between browsers and search engines disappear.
Beyond that, Weinberg says the gap between browsers and search engines is disappearing. Want the best of Bing? Use Edge. Google? chrome. brave? brave. Browser makers are tying services closer to apps and making it difficult to switch all the time. DuckDuckGo’s hope is to let people access their browser with a single download and provide all kinds of services.
Weinberg and Dolanjski both say that DuckDuckGo can do a lot more to build a browser that is not only simpler and more private, but also more feature-rich. Weinberg cites DuckDuckGo’s email protection as an example. Dolanjski says there are plenty of other Duck Player-style tools companies can build on. “Ideally,” says Weinberg.
But the first step was to build a good browser and make it available everywhere. Dolanjski said it’s pretty much the same. The Windows version may lag a bit when it’s in beta, but “the goal is to reach parity as quickly as possible.” Once everything is up to speed, DuckDuckGo can start dreaming bigger.
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