DuckDuckGo is best known for its privacy-focused search engine. But the company also makes browser extensions and full-fledged web browsers for Android, iOS, Mac, and now Windows.
After launching a desktop app for Mac users last year, DuckDuckGo has released a public beta of the DuckDuckGo Browser for Windows. Unsurprisingly the key features that set it apart from other browsers are mostly about privacy: there’s built-in protection from trackers, cookie consent pop-up windows, and even a video player specifically designed to let you watch YouTube videos without ads or tracking.
DuckDuckGo says its browser isn’t a fork of any other web browsers like Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. But it does rely on “the underlying operating system rendering API,” which means it uses the same Blink rendering engine to load web pages as Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge.
But DuckDuckGo says that unlike Chrome or Edge, the DuckDuckGo Browser is built from the ground up with an emphasis on privacy. So while it’s using the Windows Webview2 API, crash report data isn’t sent to Microsoft.
The browser also blocks 3rd-party trackers from loading, offers optional support for automatically choosing the most privacy-oriented options from cookie consent windows and then closing the pop-ups, and a “Fire” button that lets you delete all recent browsing data with a single-click (you can mark specific pages as fireproof if you want to stay logged in).
Duck Player, meanwhile, is a built-in video player that shows up as an option when you visit YouTube, allowing you to play videos in a distraction-free window with no ads on the screen or in the videos themselves.
Watching a video also won’t affect YouTube’s recommendations for other videos you might want to see, since YouTube cannot track your Duck Player viewing history.
Duck Player does not seem to work with YouTube videos embedded on third-party websites, although if you right-click a video and choose to open it in another tab, it can automatically open in a Duck Player window.
And, of course, the browser uses DuckDuckGo as its default search engine. In fact, if there’s a way to change your default search engine to something else, I haven’t found it yet.
DuckDuckGo for Windows is still a work in progress, thus the beta tag. At launch, for example, there’s no support for browser extensions. The developers note that many of the features people regularly use extensions for are already baked-in, including ad blocking (tracker blocking effectively eliminates most ads even if it’s not explicitly an ad blocker) and password management.
The browser does allow you to import bookmarks and passwords from other browsers or password managers like 1Password, Bitwarden, and LastPass. But folks who prefer to use those third-party tools over built-in password managers may need to wait for DuckDuckGo to add browser extension support before switching to the new browser full time.
via DuckDuckGo Blog