Over the weekend, we reported that Microsoft has blocked a certain method that was being used by third-parties to quickly change the default browser in Windows 11 from Edge to one of their choice. This block was implemented in Windows 11 Dev Channel build 22494 and directly impacted EdgeDeflector, which has hundreds of thousands of users. Mozilla stated that if the change was implemented in the generally available release of Windows 11 and Windows 10, its workaround would become ineffective too.
Now, Microsoft has admitted that it is doing all of this on purpose. In a statement to The Verge, a company spokesperson emphasized that:
Windows openly enables applications and services on its platform, including various web browsers. 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 fact that Microsoft is referring to its update as a "fix" is pretty telling, implying that the company will be on the lookout to block further attempts at "improper redirection" too.
While the move is obviously upsetting for affected developers, it also massively impacts consumers who won't be able to completely and easily switch away from Edge once the block becomes available generally. Windows 11 users already have to go through an atrocious process to change their default browser from Edge to something else already. While some may argue that Edge is good enough now, that is irrelevant because the company whose CEO recently stated that "Windows has been a democratizing force for the world. Windows has always stood for sovereignty for creators and agency for consumers..." is now the one brazenly admitting that it does not want people to modify the end-to-end customer experience defined by it. Of course, the block means that it's more difficult for malicious actors to hijack your browsing experience, but then again, it also makes it more difficult for consumers who just want to use a browser of their choice.