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Outlook, and soon Teams links to open in Microsoft Edge by default; users aren't too pleased

Microsoft Edge as the Devil
via Vivaldi

Back in February, Microsoft announced a pretty major change for Microsoft 365 Outlook and Teams. The company said that Outlook, and in the future Teams, would open browser links by default on Microsoft Edge. Microsoft later explained in detail why it was making such a change in a support article. Essentially, the tech giant tried to clarify that this decision was made to benefit users and their workflow by reducing task switching and helping improve focus. It wrote:

Why is Microsoft making this change?

  • To improve your experience between email and browsing—letting you see them both at the same time, in the same place. No more switching back and forth between apps.

  • To provide a unique experience—at Microsoft, we strive to create the best customer experience across our products.

  • To reduce task switching and improve workflow and focus—by opening browser links in Microsoft Edge, the original message in Outlook can be viewed alongside web content to easily access, read, and respond to the message, using the matching authenticated profile.

IT admins and system admins became aware of this when they came across Microsoft 365 (M365) Message Center IDs MC548092 and MC541626 that detail these changes (via hume_reddit on Reddit). Below is a part of the message that explains how organizations will be affected by this change. However this message is not visible to every tenant it seems as Microsoft is gradually rolling it out, and appears to be testing the waters before jumping all in:

How this will affect your organization:

Web links from emails in the Outlook for Windows app will open side-by-side with the email in Microsoft Edge so users can easily reference the link and email without switching back and forth between apps. The email will open in the Outlook app in the Edge sidebar. Links will open in Microsoft Edge even if it is not the system default browser in Windows.

  • Only links set to open via a web browser are affected. Links that are set to open in a client app or within Outlook itself will continue to do so.
  • User experiences will vary by policy configuration; please see the next section.
  • Web links from all accounts in the Outlook for Windows app will open in Microsoft Edge, but the side-by-side experience is not available for non-AAD or non-MSA accounts at this time.

Teams will not receive the change at this time.

Overall, from the looks of it, users, at least on Reddit, don't seem too pleased.

"Sounds anti competitive like back with IE and browser choice..." says postbox134 on a Reddit thread. Meanwhile, another user justenoughslack writes "This has been going on for some time now with Outlook on Android. It completely bypasses the default browser setting and opens all links in Edge. It's annoying." BarelyAirborne says "Just what I needed, a dozen more Edge processes running that I did not ask for and do not want."

Outside of desktops, this change is also already here on the mobile side of things as well. M365 Message Center ID MC531738 explains (via alanjmcf on Reddit):

Currently users open links automatically from Outlook for iOS and Android in their default browser. This change will prompt users to choose their browser instead. Users can choose their default browser if they prefer and configure that preference in their Outlook Mobile settings.

There is a silver lining for all this though. Microsoft does allow users to opt out of this and choose their default browser to open links with as you can see in the image below:

Choosing preferred default browser in Outlook

To do that, open Outlook, select File > Options > Advanced > Link handling and choose your preferred browser from the dropdown menu.

Source: Reddit (1), (2), (3) via Petri

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