Something to look forward to: The company that operates the DuckDuckGo privacy-centered search engine has offered a web browser for the same purpose on mobile devices for a while. Over the last year, it has worked to bring its browser to desktops, and a limited number of Windows users can now begin testing it.
DuckDuckGo started a closed beta for the Windows version of its privacy-oriented browser this week. Interested users can sign up through the browser’s mobile version. To register, update or download the latest iOS or Android version of the DuckDuckGo browser. Then head to Settings > More From DuckDuckGo > DuckDuckGo Windows App, and tap the button to join the private waitlist.
The company warns that it hasn’t tested the Windows browser on all types of machines yet, and it’s missing some of the Mac version’s features like the ad-free video player, Bitwarden autofill, and email protection autofill. However, it retains the Mac edition’s ability to automatically skip those annoying cookie consent pop-ups recently appearing on websites. To send feedback, click on the three dots in the window’s top right corner (masthead) and select send feedback.
The DuckDuckGo browser automatically blocks third-party trackers that collect and sell user data. It also forces sites to use HTTPS connections whenever possible and rates sites with a privacy grade. It also automatically tells sites not to share user data in specific territories with data protection laws like the European Union’s GDPR. Additionally, it has a button that instantly deletes all browsing data.
DuckDuckGo launched the Mac version of its browser last year with a closed beta in April and an open beta in October. That timing suggests the Windows beta could reach the public before the end of this year.
A likely reason for the browser’s slow expansion to Windows is that the company resisted forking Google’s Chromium browser engine, which Chrome and Microsoft Edge use. The Mac version uses WebKit like the iOS version, but the Windows edition calls Windows’ underlying rendering API through WebView2, which uses Blink. DuckDuckGo may move to another solution if enough beta testers call for it.
Last May, DuckDuckGo encountered some controversy when it admitted its browser allowed some Microsoft tracking scripts under certain conditions. The issue was due to the company’s search syndication agreement with the Redmond giant, which it has since strived to rework.