After being announced in December 2021, a Windows version of the DuckDuckGo browser has finally been launched as a public beta with six unique built-in features and more coming soon. The browser has no waitlists or invite codes and is freely available for download on the DuckDuckGo website.
The browser lacks visuals and follows the same layout as its macOS equivalent. That said, DuckDuckGo is heavily banking on its unique features to set the browser apart, other than the obvious security and privacy protections it offers. These features are as follows:
- Duck Player: This Youtube player built into the browser removes any ads and prevents the videos you watch from impacting your recommendations on the site.
- Tracker Blocking: DuckDuckGo’s third-party Tracker Loading Protection blocks hidden trackers from Google and Facebook before they can even load in the browser. The company claims its tracker blocking “goes above and beyond what’s available from Chrome and other browsers”.
- Smarter Encryption: Ensures that all sites you visit and links you click are encrypted “relative to other browsers”.
- Cookie Pop-up Management: The feature automatically deals with cookie consent pop-ups and selects the most private option by default.
- Email Protection: Allows users to hide their email addresses with unique @duck.com addresses when signing up for online services.
- Fire Button: Pressing this button instantly ‘burns’ all recent browsing data. You can mark websites as ‘fireproof’ to keep a specific site’s data.
DuckDuckGo’s Windows browser isn’t just claiming to be safe; it’s also claiming to be quite fast and light on your computer. Considering there’s little visual appeal and trackers are blocked before loading, the company claims that its desktop browsers used about 60% less data than Chrome.
Switching from other browsers has also been made easy with the option to import bookmarks and passwords from other browsers. While there’s no extension support yet, DuckDuckGo has added built-in password management and ad blocking, while the company also works to get extension support on the browser.
Like its other browsers, the DuckDuckGo browser for Windows also uses the underlying operating system rendering API or, in this case, the Windows WebView2 that uses the Blink rendering engine under the hood.
The browser’s code isn’t a fork of any existing browser either, with all the code from tab and bookmark management to the new tab page written by the company’s engineers. DuckDuckGo engineers also addressed any privacy concerns specific to WebView2, and crash reports, if any, aren’t sent to Microsoft.