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
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.
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
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.
You can't change the default protocol association through
registry changes, OEM partner customizations, modifications to the
Microsoft Edge package, interference with OpenWith.exe, or any
other hackish workarounds, Aleksandersen wrote in a blog post late last week. Any
attempts to work around Microsoft's decision would require making
destructive changes to Windows, decisions that he said he refused
Microsoft confirmed its decision in a statement to The Verge, telling the publication that the change to the
browser behaviour was a fix that will eventually roll out to the
stable version of Windows 11 as well.
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.
Aleksandersen, for his part, chose to recall the 1999 ruling to
break up Microsoft, as well as the appeals court ruling that
overturned the decision, alongside Microsoft's agreement to provide customers in
the European Union with a browser ballot to provide greater browser
That arrived after Opera Software complained that Microsoft
was preventing competition by tying Internet Explorer to Windows.
The EU then fined Microsoft $732 million after Microsoft
claimed that a technical oversight had failed to show the ballot to
customers for 14 months.
We've asked Microsoft to comment further, specifically what
end-to-end experiences within Windows 11 would be improved by using
Edge as opposed to a third-party browser. We'd also like to know
why Edge allows the use of third-party search services like Google,
but actively is trying to block the use of third-party browsers.
We'll update this story if and when we hear back.