Microsoft details the 'Block potentially unwanted apps' feature in Edge

Microsoft’s Chromium-based Edge browser became generally available in January 2020. The Redmond giant’s offering comes with features such as the ability to run Internet Explorer within a tab, termed IE mode, a Collections feature to collate links and tabs, and more that make it a viable alternative to Chrome. The browser also began rolling out to Release Preview Insiders this week.

Today, the firm is providing more information on the ‘Block potentially unwanted apps (PUA)’ feature in the browser. The feature was first introduced in Edge Dev build 80.0.345.0 and is available in the stable branch starting with build 80.0.338.0. As the name suggests, the feature helps users prevent downloading apps from the web that may degrade the user experience or be potentially malicious. The company says that its research shows that such apps are often downloaded when users search for free versions of the software.

Some of the behaviors that PUAs possess include ones that “create extra advertisements, applications that mine cryptocurrency, applications that show offers for other software and applications that the AV industry considers having a poor reputation”.

The feature is turned off by default and can be enabled by heading to the three-dot menu at the top right > Settings > Privacy and services and scroll down to services to enable the “Block potentially unwanted apps”. It must be noted that for this feature to work, Microsoft Defender SmartScreen should also be enabled. When a user downloads an app that the service deems to be a PUA, it blocks the download with a prompt notifying the user.

Those that want to still go ahead with the download can choose to override the block by clicking on the three-dot (…) menu and choosing the ‘Keep’ option. The service also lets users flag apps as reputable through the Downloads section, which is then reviewed by the team. You can read through the documentation here about how the firm ascertains which apps are potentially unwanted.

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