Windows 11 forces Microsoft’s browser to more users by blocking Edge workaround

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Microsoft tweaked Windows 11 in a recently released preview build, blocking a workaround that ensured that certain links opened in Edge were instead shown in the user’s default browser (as they should, really).

As you probably know, there are cases in Microsoft’s desktop operating system where even if you use Chrome, Firefox, or some other alternative as the default app for browsing, the links will still be open in Edge from time to time. time, when clicked in some Microsoft applications. This is due to the use of a proprietary Microsoft Edge protocol upstream of the links, namely ‘microsoft-edge: //’ (which forces open in Edge) rather than the usual ‘https: //’.

An obvious example that comes to mind is the “News & Interests” widget on the taskbar, which features various news, sports, weather, and other articles, all of which will open in Edge regardless your default setting for the web browser in Windows.

This is where third-party apps like Daniel Aleksandersen’s EdgeDeflector come in, because at the moment they can take those ‘microsoft-edge: //’ links and automatically switch them to normal links (‘https: //’) which open in your specified default browser.

However, as Aleksandersen points out in an article on his Ctrl.Blog, with Windows 11 preview version 22494 (released in early November), Microsoft has changed things so that it’s impossible for anything other than Microsoft Edge to be defined as protocol handler for ‘microsoft-edge: //’ links. In short, these links cannot be redirected from this version at all.

It also means that browsers like Firefox or Brave, which implemented their own versions of this type of protocol redirection, will not be able to do so, leaving Edge as the only route to open these links from Microsoft’s own apps and services.


Analysis: On the verge of annoyance (again)?

Obviously, it’s Microsoft that is putting all its weight in making sure that Edge keeps popping up for those who use its own apps or features like News & Interests – and a less than subtle way of reminding people that ‘Edge exists and they should consider changing (various pop-ups do this on a regular basis for Windows users, as we’ve seen in the past – this type of behavior isn’t new).

There’s no reason to make this change other than expanding Edge’s reach, of course. And it also leads to the weird situation where even if you ban Edge from your system completely, these links will still try to open in nonexistent browser.

Aleksandersen points out: “Windows will insist that you use Microsoft Edge indiscriminately even if you brutalize your Windows installation and purge all traces of Microsoft Edge. Windows will open a blank UWP window and display an error message instead of letting you use your favorite web browser.

Hopefully this drastic new measure is something Microsoft will reconsider, but given the past history, we’re not banking on it.

Maybe what’s really a shame is that Edge presents itself perfectly as a good product on its own, and should be left on its own to make a name for itself over time for these reasons. These kinds of metrics – and various pop-ups or increased ad usage – are only likely to negatively interfere with potential browser adoption in the end.

Microsoft is well aware of the danger of pushing too hard with its products – just remember the debacle around encouraging users to take advantage of the offer of a free upgrade to Windows 10 – so let’s hope for the best in terms of Windows browsing freedom. Keep in mind that at this point, this is just a change that is being tested (so Windows Insiders, make your feelings known if they are strong).

Via PC Gamer


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