With the launch of Windows 11, Microsoft made it very difficult to change the default browser, but soon users will be forced to us Edge for certain tasks.

Microsoft uses microsoft-edge:// links instead of https:// for specific features in Windows, for example, links to online news, weather, or Start Menu search results. Thankfully, a helper program called EdgeDeflector bypasses the association with Edge and allows those link to open using your default browser of choice instead. Not for much longer, though.

In the latest preview build of Windows 11 (22494), Microsoft has stopped EdgeDeflector, and any other software performing a similar interception task, from working. In so doing, there's no choice but to use Edge for any microsoft-edge:// link. Daniel Aleksandersen, the developer of EdgeDeflector, has confirmed that his helper program will no longer work and all the methods he could use to keep it working after this change would require "making destructive changes to Windows."

Aleksandersen goes on to summarize what a lot of Windows 11 users are probably thinking after learning about this change: "These arenít the actions of an attentive company that cares about its product anymore. Microsoft isnít a good steward of the Windows operating system. Theyíre prioritizing ads, bundleware, and service subscriptions over their usersí productivity."

As to why Microsoft decided to implement this change, it's likely because both Braze and Mozilla have implemented similar functionality to EdgeDeflector to intercept microsoft-edge:// links. EdgeDeflector has about 500,000 users, but if you add in Firefox and Brave browser users, that total jumps up to nearly 237 million users, which is certainly enough to make Microsoft take notice and react.

PCMag