DuckDuckGo, the privacy-centric internet company best known for its search engine of the same name, released a public beta of its own browser for Windows PCs today.
Characteristically, the browser puts user privacy front and center. DuckDuckGo said that the browser (called simply “DuckDuckGo for Windows”) boasts “best-in-class” privacy functionality, which is enabled by default. It blocks trackers before they load, which DuckDuckGo said lets it consume fully 60% less data than Google Chrome.
The browser doesn’t yet support extensions, but the company said that the built-in functionality replicates some of the most common extension use cases, like ad blocking, privacy, password management, and a “Duck Player” mode for watching YouTube that stops the lion’s share of tracking and advertising present on that platform.
The browser also provides some customiseability in the way it handles web pages. The left corner of the address bar lets users toggle different types of protection on and off for individual web pages, which is an important consideration for a browser that, by design, blocks a lot of functionality.
It also boasts a “fire” feature, which deletes all browsing history, tabs and cookies in one click, but enables “fireproofing” to exempt particular sites from the deletion.
Finally, the browser seems to block most “I accept” pop-ups from loading, if the user chooses to enable that feature. It will automatically reject many cookies via this feature, if desired, and provides email protection via a forwarding service using a custom email address with an @duck.com suffix.
DuckDuckGo for Windows was fully created in house, according to the company, and isn’t a fork or customisation of some other browser. DuckDuckGo said that the company “believes in open sourcing our apps,” and said that it plans to do that for the browser, but the code is currently proprietary. The company said that the browser uses the Windows WebView2 call to the Blink rendering engine for web page rendering.
The open beta test is meant to provide the company’s engineers with feedback for compatibility and improvements, according to DuckDuckGo. While a Mac version of the browser already exists, Windows PCs have a much wider range of hardware configurations, making that type of feedback important. DuckDuckGo also has browsers for Android and iOS, making it easier for users to stay within the DuckDuckGo ecosystem across platforms.