MICROSOFT is being criticised for adding a "buy now, pay later" extension to its Edge browser.
The extension can result in users paying more for items than they may have originally intended when buying something online.
Microsoft Edge, which claims to the "best browser for Windows", has started prompting some users to use short-term financing service Zip, previously called QuadPay.
The company said the feature is "currently available only in the US" and hasn't said when it will roll out further.
According to Ars Technica, some US Edge users saw Zip integrated into their browsers when they updated to version 96 of the software.
They noticed the option to use Zip was displayed on checkout pages near the area where you'd usually enter credit card details.
Sometimes it was seen ingrained in the actual checkout page.
It should only pop up when Edge detects you're about to make a payment valued between $35 and $1,000 as that's the price range Zip can cover.
The only way a website owner can stop Zip appearing on their page is by contacting Microsoft and asking for it to be removed.
What's the catch?
Although many people enjoy using buy now, pay later services, Edge users should be wary of a catch.
You can use Zip to pay nothing upfront and then pay the money back in four "interest-free" instalments over six weeks.
However, the service isn't actually free.
Users will have to pay $1 for each payment they make back.
So using this method would mean your online purchases would always cost $4 more than you thought.
Buy now, pay later schemes have also been heavily criticised for getting some users into debt.
A US study by Credit Karma suggested over a third of people who use similar plans have fallen behind on payments, which could negatively impact their credit score.
Some angry Edge users have spoken out about the platform seemingly encouraging users to buy now, pay later.
Popular cybersecurity tweeter Kevin Beaumont tweeted: "Microsoft added Buy Now Pay Later into Edge (and so Windows 10 and 11 base OS), a thing which is known to be abused to harm people.
"The tags on the post on Microsoft’s website say it all. Keep speaking out."
Thanks to a user based tagging system on Microsoft's blog post it now features tags like "exploitative", "poor leadership", "greed", "cashgrab" and "predatory".
Another upset user wrote: "How do I turn this feature off? The first time I see it will be the last time I use edge."
Microsoft has said it is "not involved in providing the loan and does not collect a fee for connecting users to loan providers."
That means it's not currently clear what benefit Microsoft is getting by promoting Zip or what kind of deal has been struck.
The feedback on Microsoft's blog post isn't all negative though.
Some users have praised Zip.
One wrote: "Thanks for adding this. So much better than a credit card and so easy.
"I'm not sure why everyone thinks it is bloatware or expensive, as an extension i could not tell the difference."
We have reached out to Microsoft and Zip for comment.
In other news, Android users are being warned to update their phone’s privacy settings after a new update could leave their devices vulnerable.
Samsung has killed off one of its most beloved smartphone ranges, according to reports.
And, a tech expert has revealed some exciting hidden Google features in a popular TikTok video.
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