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DuckDuckGo Browser for Windows Beta: Privacy-Focused, Ad-Blocking, and Tracker Blocking

Updated: Jan 5

DuckDuckGo introduces its Windows browser beta, offering default privacy protections, Duck Player, and advanced tracker blocking capabilities.

DuckDuckGo Browser
Credits: DuckDuckGo

Privacy-centric company DuckDuckGo has made its browser for Windows available as a public beta, expanding its reach and providing increased privacy safeguards along with a range of browsing tools developed by the DuckDuckGo team.

Following the successful private beta launch of its Mac browser over a year ago, the search engine and tracking antagonist now brings many of the same features to a broader audience. Like its Mac counterpart, DuckDuckGo's browser for Windows utilises the "underlying operating system rendering API" instead of developing its own custom browser code. According to a blog post by DuckDuckGo, this relies on a Windows WebView2 call that utilizes the Blink rendering engine underneath. Interestingly, the browser is identified as Microsoft Edge by most header-scanning sites.

Key features found within the DuckDuckGo browser include:

  • Duck Player, which provides a YouTube video viewing experience without intrusive ads and personalised recommendations

  • Advanced tracker blocking capabilities that surpass those offered by other browsers, including the prevention of third-party tracker loading

  • Enforced encryption for enhanced security

  • The "fire button" that instantly closes all tabs and clears website data

  • Cookie pop-up management, automatically opting for private settings and concealing "I accept" pop-ups

  • Email protection, simplifying the use of an auto-forwarding address on web forms

  • DuckDuckGo claims that by proactively blocking trackers, its browser uses approximately 60 percent less data than Chrome. As the browser is built on Windows' own rendering engine, it heavily relies on Windows' updates for maintaining its security.

DuckDuckGo Browser
Credits: DuckDuckGo

While DuckDuckGo's browser offers an impressive suite of features, it currently lacks support for extensions, which is a notable difference compared to major browsers. However, DuckDuckGo plans to introduce extension support in the future, emphasising that its password management, ad-blocking tools, and Duck Player already cater to the most common extension use cases. Furthermore, features such as tab pinning, HTML bookmark import, and password/bookmark syncing are expected to be added soon, as highlighted by Product Director Peter Dolanjski.

Dolanjski mentions that DuckDuckGo intends to open-source its browser, following the company's practice with some of its apps and extensions. He also acknowledges the efforts made by their engineers to address privacy concerns specific to WebView2, ensuring that crash reports are not transmitted to Microsoft. DuckDuckGo's association with Microsoft and Bing for search results and advertising has been noteworthy, yet the company has expressed concerns over certain Microsoft trackers.

As a user of DuckDuckGo's Windows browser, I am eager to see it incorporate the few extensions I heavily rely on, such as Vimium and Pocket, allowing me to fully embrace it as my primary browser. DuckDuckGo recognises that Windows users possess a wider range of hardware configurations, acknowledging this diversity. In my personal experience with the browser on my Windows desktop, I have encountered black/white flickering when certain page elements are focused.

  • DuckDuckGo releases public beta of its Windows browser, providing enhanced default privacy features and a range of Duck-made browsing tools.

  • The browser uses the underlying Windows operating system rendering API and the Blink rendering engine.

  • Key features include Duck Player, advanced tracker blocking, enforced encryption, the "fire button," cookie pop-up management, and email protection.

  • DuckDuckGo's browser consumes approximately 60 percent less data than Chrome by blocking trackers.

  • Extension support is not currently available, but password management, ad-blocking.

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