Microsoft blocks another way to avoid Edge within Windows 11

Browser choice is becoming a flashpoint in Windows 11, and Microsoft seems to be stubbornly against the user.

Credit: Dreamstime

Microsoft has begun taking an even more aggressive stance in its efforts to prevent users from choosing their own browser on Windows 11, blocking a small developer's tool that served as a workaround to enable browser choice.

Microsoft's Windows 11 Insider preview build 22494, released last week, blocks EdgeDeflector, according to Daniel Aleksandersen, the app's developer. The small app takes Windows 11's built-in microsoft edge:// links and redirects them to a generic https:// link instead.

In Windows 11, this matters. As our Windows 11 review indicates, Microsoft has implemented changes to its default apps settings that require users to go on a file-type by file-type basis to change browsers. 

Put another way, while Windows 10 allows users to set a default browser like Mozilla Firefox for doing everything involved with browsing the web, Windows 11 requires users to select a browser for each file type: .DF, .HTML, .TML, .EBP, and so on. It's possible, but a pain.

In Windows 11, though, there's another file type, the microsoft edge:// link. Here, Microsoft uses these links for the web-connected portions of Windows 11: the Search icon in the Taskbar, for instance, or the search box at the top of the Widgets panel. In this case, those search requests are parsed as microsoft edge:// requests and specifically call the Microsoft Edge browser to handle them.

What EdgeDeflector did was simply re-route those requests to the user's browser of choice, whether it be Firefox, Chrome, or some other browser. Now, with the new preview build, Edge and only Edge will handle these requests.

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Mark Hachman

Mark Hachman

PC World (US online)
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