Microsoft is taking the browser wars to the extreme. First, the company said that it would block all default browser workarounds in Windows, and now it has done it in the latest Windows update.
We knew this day would come, but we weren’t sure exactly when Microsoft would drop the update that blocks workarounds like those used by Mozilla, Brave, and EdgeDeflector. As it turns out, Microsoft slipped the update into the final patch Tuesday of 2021 for both Windows 10 and Windows 11.
Basically, this means that “microsoft-edge:// links” can no longer be forced to open in your default browser of choice. Apps like EdgeDeflector and Mozilla’s workaround made it so these links could be intercepted, but that’s no longer possible with the latest update to Windows.
This doesn’t come as a surprise, as Microsoft called Mozilla’s workaround “improper” while saying it fully intended to block it. However, we were hoping that users and the media yelling about anticompetitive behaviors from Microsoft might make the company change its mind. That clearly isn’t the case, though.
A new tool called MSEdgeRedirect uses an entirely different method to get around Edge, but it has to run in the background to work. In contrast, Mozilla, Brave, and EdgeDefelocot didn’t need to run a background process to work. On top of that, it’s being flagged by Microsoft’s SmartScreen when you run it.
Additionally, Microsoft has made its intentions clear, so it’ll probably just block MSEdgeRedirect in the future, leaving people stuck using Edge for those specific types of links.
We’ll have to wait and see if Microsoft has any repercussions for these anticompetitive tactics. The company might just be walking the line enough to avoid getting in trouble, but with the outrage from end-users and the media, it could have a problem on its hands.