Microsoft: Putting Teeth on Edge

January 11, 2022

Usually a basic press release for an update to Microsoft receives little discussion, but OS News recently posted a small quip: “Update For Windows 10 And 11 Blocks Default Browser Redirect, But There Is a Workaround” and users left testy comments. The sting fighting words were:

“It seems that Microsoft has quietly backported the block, introduced a month ago in a Dev build of Windows 11, on tools like EdgeDeflector and browsers from being the true default browser in Windows 10, with the change being implemented in Windows 11 too. Starting from KB5008212, which was installed on all supported versions of Windows 10 yesterday with Patch Tuesday, it is no longer possible to select EdgeDeflector as the default MICROSOFT-EDGE protocol.”

Followed by this sarcastic line: “They spent engineering resources on this.”

Users were upset because it meant Microsoft blocked other Web browsers from becoming a system’s default. It is a corporate strategy to normalize anti-competitive restrictions, but there are users who defended Microsoft’s move. They stated that blocking other Web browsers protected vulnerable users, like the elderly, from accidentally downloading malware and adware.

The comments then turned into an argument between tech-savvy experts and the regular users who do not know jack about technology. The discussion ended with semi-agreement that users need protection from freeware that forcefully changes a system, but ultimately users have the choice on their system settings.

In the end, the comments shifted to why Microsoft wants Edge to be the system default: money and deflecting attention from its interesting approaches to security.

Whitney Grace, January 11, 2022

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