Microsoft Edge Update Dev NewSource: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central

What you need to know

  • A recent change to Windows 11 Insider builds blocks apps like EdgeDeflector from redirecting certain types of links.
  • EdgeDeflector can force links from the Windows shell, such as the News widget, to open in your browser of choice.
  • Microsoft clarified in a recent statement that some links are "not designed to be redirected" and has prevented this from being possible.

A recent statement from Microsoft clarifies why the company forces links from some parts of Windows to open in Microsoft Edge. In Windows, certain elements, such as the News widget, always open links in Microsoft Edge, even if you've set another browser as your default. EdgeDeflector intercepts those links, allowing you to always use your default browser. Microsoft blocked EdgeDeflector and similar applications from intercepting links in a recent Insider build of Windows 11.

We covered the blocking of EdgeDeflector's core functionality last week, but a statement from Microsoft explains the companies reasoning for its action.

"Windows openly enables applications and services on its platform, including various web browsers," said a Microsoft spokesperson to The Verge. "At the same time, 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."

The statement from Microsoft indicates that apps like EdgeDeflector will not be able to work in the future. Microsoft refers to its change as a "fix," which suggests that it views the redirection of edge:// protocol links as a problem.

EdgeDeflector has 500,000 users, according to its developer, but another app attempting to redirect edge:// protocol links may have driven Microsoft to block the behavior. Mozilla planned to implement similar functionality in its browser, which has 200 million users.

"People deserve choice. They should have the ability to simply and easily set defaults and their choice of default browser should be respected," said a Mozilla spokesperson to The Verge. "We have worked on code that launches Firefox when the microsoft-edge protocol is used for those users that have already chosen Firefox as their default browser. Following the recent change to Windows 11, this planned implementation will no longer be possible."

Microsoft forcing people to use Microsoft Edge has led to frustration among many Windows users. Blocking EdgeDeflector and any app that intercepts edge:// protocol links led many to express disdain over the weekend.