What you need to know
- Microsoft will soon let Windows 11 users in the EEA uninstall Edge, Bing, and disable certain ads on the operating system.
- Most of those options will remain restricted to those in the EEA, leaving most Windows 11 users unable to uninstall Microsoft Edge.
- Third-party app MSEdgeRedirect just added a Europe Mode that sets your PC region as "in EU," allowing you to uninstall Microsoft Edge.
Several elements of Windows 11 only work with Microsoft Edge. For example, clicking a news story in the Widgets Board will open in Edge regardless of what your default browser is. Similarly, the Start menu and Search only open in Edge. Microsoft also prevents people from uninstalling or disabling certain apps and experiences on Windows 11, such as Microsoft Edge and Bing in search. But that's about to change for users in Europe.
To become compliant with the Digital Markets Act in the European Economic Area, Microsoft will allow users to uninstall Edge, Bing, and disable certain ads on Windows 11. The company needs to be in full compliance by March 6, 2024, and Microsoft is at work to ensure the rollout happens in time. But what about if you're not in the EEA? Sadly, Microsoft will not give you the new options to uninstall and disable things. In comes third-party app MSEdgeRedirect to save the day.
MSEdgeRedirect already lets you redirect news, search, widgets, and weather on Windows 11. Now, it also includes a Europe Mode that will let you uninstall Edge. When you switch to Europe Mode in MSEdgeRedirect, the following changes occur:
- Edge is uninstallable
- User can disable web search
- Narrator scripting extensions are enabled
- File Explorer Search is third party extensible
- Third party search providers show in search
- Third party search highlight content in search zero input
- Third parties can customize the Taskbar Gleam
The MSEdgeRedirect team promises a second Europe Mode that takes a more aggressive approach, but the method that's currently available simply sets your PC region as "in EU." You can jump to the change log below to see all of the improvements in version 0.7.5.1.
I don't hate Microsoft Edge. I use it as my daily browser, and not just because I need to keep up to date with its feature set for work. Edge has a lot of useful features, a nice interface, and works with the websites that I use. But I still celebrate victories against Microsoft's push to force people to use Edge.
When a program called EdgeDeflector first came out in 2021, Microsoft explained why it forces you to use Edge when interacting with certain Windows experiences, such as the widgets board.
"Windows openly enables applications and services on its platform, including various web browsers," said Microsoft. "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."
EdgeDeflector no longer works, but other apps have filled the void.
I have a hard time believing Microsoft in this case, however. Surely Microsoft is confident that links from the Windows 11 widgets board, Start menu, and search bar are safe. The company seemed to have an issue with redirecting links since a malicious actor could redirect links to a scam, phishing scheme, or other harmful site.
I have a solution for that concern, let people have any link they click open in their default browser. If Microsoft is confident in the links it presents in Windows 11 and already allows people to use browsers other than Edge, why not allow those endpoints to connect?
It shouldn't take a law
I can't believe I have to write this, but it shouldn't require a law to allow people to disable ads in Windows 11 or uninstall an app. Sadly, that's exactly what it took to push Microsoft to change. In order to be compliant with the Digital Markets Act (DMA) in the European Economic Area (EEA), Microsoft will let people uninstall Microsoft Edge, disable Bing in Windows Search, and turn off the Microsoft News feed and ads in the Widgets Board.
Rather than simply give all those options to everyone, the leadership at Microsoft decided to limit some to people in the EEA. The tech giant announced that anyone will be able to have a clean Widgets Board experience, regardless of region. But up to this point, Microsoft has not said it will let people outside the EEA uninstall Microsoft Edge or disable Bing in Windows Search.
This whole saga proves that Microsoft is fully capable of giving people options when it comes to their browser. It's not like Edge is so tied into Windows that removing the browser will break your PC. But Microsoft's leadership chose to only roll out most of the changes in regions where it's required by law.
MSEdgeRedirect change log
- Adds Europe Mode (1 of 2 Methods Implemented)
- Adds Stock Decoder (not yet used, thanks @whamer100)
- Improves Installer UX Flow
- Removes leftover legacy files
- Removes Darksky for Weather (thanks Apple...)
- Adds rounded corner support (not yet used)
- Adds StartPage for Image Search
- Adds Locale Support for Windy.com
- Fixes bug where Edge would not close
- Adds Locale Support for Weather.com
- Cleans up some forgotten allocated resources
- Adds Placeholder support in Custom Search URLs (use %query%)
- Adds support for any Ie_to_edge_stub.exe location
- Adds Placeholder support in Custom Image Search URLs (use %query%)
- Adds Recursion Failure Logging to help debug for 22.214.171.124
- Adds Unsafe Flag Block Logging to help debug for 126.96.36.199
- Restores being able to Redirect Bing Chat instead of just disabling
- Fixes Recursion Prevention making assumptions about command line parameters
- Adds Placeholder support in Custom Weather URLs for Latitude, Longitude, and Locale (use %lat%, %long%, and %locale% respectively)
--win-session-startand other command line parameters being handled as webpages
- Fixes Active Mode File Handling (except for PDFs). Local files attempting to open in Edge will now open in Edge
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Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at firstname.lastname@example.org.