Microsoft blocks Windows 11 workaround that helps avoid Edge browser
With Windows 11, Microsoft rubbed Microsoft Edge in our faces even more desperately and made it harder to change the default browser. Thankfully, third-party workarounds were developed to save users the inconvenience. However, Microsoft now announced it will block these workarounds with an update to its operating system. The company's iron-handed approach could leave several users with no choice but Edge. Let us explain.
Why does this story matter?
Internet Explorer was hugely popular since its inception. When Chromium-based alternatives (Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox) burst on the scene, Microsoft followed suit and made Edge the default browser on Windows 10 and 11, only to be promptly disabled by users after they installed Chromium-based alternatives. Microsoft's desperate measures to popularize Edge are now eating into the freedom of choice for Windows 11 users.
Windows 10 gave rise to solutions such as EdgeDeflector
On Windows 10, when you changed the default browser, Microsoft showed pop-ups asking if you're sure you want to break up with Edge. Without a second thought, most users dismissed these pop-ups. However, the Start menu web search results and Microsoft Help were still redirected to using Edge. This led to demand for one-click solutions such as EdgeDeflector that let people use other browsers.
Windows 11 makes Edge nearly inescapable
Edge on Windows 11 is like a vengeful ex. Microsoft needs you to manually dissociate each file type (.html, .htm, etc.) from Edge and reassociate it with a browser you prefer. This means that when you install Chrome, there is now no one-click system to set it as your default browser. Widget links, Microsoft Help, and Start menu web results still use Edge.
Microsoft is plugging loophole that EdgeDeflector used
EdgeDeflector was one of the programs that took the URL from Microsoft's proprietary system that forced Edge upon users and passed it along to a browser of your choice. Last week, an early preview build of Windows 11 blocked the loophole it used. Firefox and Brave Browser, among others, were also at various stages of implementing EdgeDeflector's system. Now, that won't be possible.
Microsoft passes off Edge as an 'end-to-end customer experience'
Microsoft told The Verge that it intentionally blocked the loophole. A spokesperson explained, "Windows also offers certain end-to-end customer experiences in both Windows 10 and Windows 11, the search experience from the taskbar is one such example of an end-to-end experience that is not designed to be redirected." "When we become aware of improper redirection, we issue a fix," they added.
EdgeDeflector developer, Mozilla accuse Microsoft of stifling choices, prioritizing gains
In a blog post, EdgeDeflector's developer Daniel Aleksandersen criticized Microsoft saying, "These aren't the actions of an attentive company that cares about its product anymore." He called out Microsoft for "prioritizing ads, bundleware, and service subscriptions over... users' productivity." Mozilla echoed Aleksandersen's thoughts, saying people "should have the ability to simply and easily set defaults and their choice of default browser should be respected."