Vivaldi spoofs Edge to access Bing Chat as AI wars turn vicious
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Vivaldi spoofs Edge to access Bing Chat as AI wars turn vicious

Oct 09, 2023

To fight what it considers to be unfair gatekeeping of its browser, Vivaldi said that it's masquerading as Microsoft Edge to enable users to gain access to Bing Chat.

The new Vivaldi 6.1 update tells websites that it's actually Microsoft Edge, using what it calls Client Hints. Vivaldi has used this technology before, identifying itself as Google Chrome, to try and accomplish the same task. Now, the company says, some websites are seeing through its mask and blocking Vivaldi regardless.

If you access Bing's AI-powered Chat feature on Edge, the browser allows you to converse with Microsoft's AI chatbot. You’ll have a similar experience with Google Chrome. On Vivaldi, your access to the site is blocked by a massive popup that asks you to download Edge instead. What Vivaldi 6.1 simply hopes to accomplish is allowing you to access Bing Chat without the need to download Microsoft Edge or Chrome.

Edge, Chrome, and Vivaldi are all based upon Chromium, the open-source version of the Chrome browser. But Vivaldi has complained before that the web is prejudiced towards the Chrome browser, and its own version nomenclature. As a result, the browser company has tried to transition away from using an identifying string known as the UserAgent to what's known as Client Hints, which arguably helps users maintain more privacy by simply telling the site what it needs to know.

Mark Hachman / IDG

"Vivaldi would like to proudly announce itself as Vivaldi, but the current state of the web makes this difficult," Vivaldi said in a blog post. The company hopes that Bing Chat will now be accessible via Vivaldi Mobile on Android, as well as the desktop version. It can't be known for sure, however, whether Vivaldi's approach will work.

For its part, Microsoft said that it will make Bing Chat available to other browsers, eventually. "The company plans to bring the new experience to other browsers over time and we’ll be sure to keep you updated on the latest," a Microsoft representative said via email.

What is true, however, is that the dogfight to lure users to AI is becoming increasingly desperate. The Verge discovered that Microsoft was hiding Bing Chat searches for "Chrome" by showing the advantages of Bing Chat, instead. And Microsoft, which originally blocked Google Chrome users from accessing Bing Chat, now allows access — though on our machine, access was only allowed on the second try. Vivaldi seems to be caught in the crossfire.

Otherwise, Vivaldi 6.1 introduces minor changes: You’ll be able to copy links saved in Vivaldi's Tab Stacks and send them to other users. You can also use Tab Stacks and Tab Tiling within Vivaldi's Workspaces, another nifty organizational feature the company launched in April. Vivaldi also plans to launch on iOS soon, it said.

As PCWorld's senior editor, Mark focuses on Microsoft news and chip technology, among other beats. He has formerly written for PCMag, BYTE, Slashdot, eWEEK, and ReadWrite.