Microsoft blocks other browsers from opening Edge links

silversurfer

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When Microsoft launched Windows 10, one of the things that the company did introduce was the classic version of Edge. Edge would replace the aging Internet Explorer browser along the way.
To give Edge a boost, Microsoft decided to invent the microsoft-edge:// protocol and started to use it in some internal applications. The protocol was designed to open links only in Edge.

windows 11 microsoft locks edge protocol

via Windows 11 blocks Edge browser competitors from opening links
In Windows 11, Microsoft introduced the new Chromium-based Microsoft Edge web browser. Just like its classic version, it is pushed through exclusive use of the microsoft-edge:// protocol. The new News and Interests widget in Windows 10 and the Widgets app in Windows 11 use the microsoft-edge protocol exclusively, even though they display standard web content and links.
To make things even less user friendly, Microsoft changed the way the default browser is set. On Windows 10, users could set a different browser as the default, and it would open all links that browsers can open, with the exception of locked microsoft-edge protocol links.
In Windows 11, Microsoft removed that straightforward option. All that is left for users is to set each protocol individually. If you want to switch completely from Edge to Firefox, Brave or Vivaldi, you have to set HTTP, HTTPS, HTML, PDF, WebP, SHTML, FTP, HTM, Mailto, News and others, manually to the desired browser.
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It is clear that Microsoft won't reverse its position on the change without outside pressure. Users of Windows 11 are blocked from making changes that they want to make. The only viable option at this point, other than not installing the operating system in first place, is to ignore programs and apps that use the internal protocol.
 

silversurfer

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A recent Insider build of Windows 11 affects the ability of EdgeDeflector to redirect links. Certain elements of Windows 11 and Windows 10, such as the News and interests widget, open links in Edge regardless of which browser is set as default. This is done through the use of edge:// protocol links. These types of links bypass default browser settings to open a webpage within Edge. EdgeDeflector worked around this by intercepting edge:// protocol links, but the app no longer works on the latest Insider builds of Windows 11.

"You can't change the default protocol association through registry changes, OEM partner customizations, modifications to the Microsoft Edge package, interference with OpenWith.exe, or any other hackish workarounds," explained the developer of EdgeDeflector.

The developer claimed that the change occurred sometime between Windows 11 builds 22483 and 22494, both of which are Insider builds. They claimed that these changes aren't a bug but that they're the result of a deliberate change by Microsoft, "This isn't a bug in the Windows Insider preview build. Microsoft has made specific changes to how Windows handles the microsoft-edge:// protocol."

As Microsoft has not commented on the change, we cannot comment regarding the company's intent or any future plans regarding edge:// protocol links. What is known is that EdgeDeflector does not work on the latest Insider builds of Windows 11.
 

Gandalf_The_Grey

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MSEdgeRedirect has a fix:
Someone has released a fix:
Release 0.2.0.0 - Windows 11 22494 Ready! · rcmaehl/MSEdgeRedirect

Haven't tried it out myself.

But:
This is not a very elegant tool compared to the other solutions. This one checks your running processes every 250ms and if it finds an edge process it runs it through microsoft-edge://,
it kills it and starts your own browser with the same parameters.
 

silversurfer

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“Windows openly enables applications and services on its platform, including various web browsers,” says a Microsoft spokesperson in a statement to The Verge. “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.”
 

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silversurfer

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Microsoft restores individual “default browser” setting in Windows 11 preview​

[...] the latest Dev channel Windows Insider build of Windows 11 restores a button in the Settings app for setting your default browser, something that existed in Windows 10 but is missing from the current stable version of Windows 11.

The change, originally spotted by developer Rafael Rivera, adds the default browser button to the top of the Settings app when you navigate to any browser in the "Default apps" section. The button automatically changes the default app for opening http, https, .htm, and .html files and links instead of making users change each of these associations manually (or relying on browser makers to build that capability into their browsers themselves).

For all the other file types that Microsoft Edge can handle, including PDFs, SVG files, and others, you'll still need to change those associations manually and one at a time. But this is already how the default browser button worked in Windows 10, so it at least represents a reversion to the pre-Windows 11 status quo rather than a new hurdle to jump over.
 

silversurfer

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Update for Windows 10 and 11 blocks default browser redirect, but there's a workaround​

Fortunately, there's a workaround against these anti-competitive ... and desperate measures; first discovered by gHacks, the open source tool MSEdgeRedirect uses a completely different method. Instead of relying on the (now blocked) protocol handler, it "filters and passes the command line arguments of Microsoft Edge processes into your default browser ". So, although it no longer relies on the protocol, the tradeoff is that it needs to be running in the background to work its magic. But you have to ask yourself, how badly do you want to "deflect" Microsoft's Edge browser?

All the app does is redirect links that are designed to open in Microsoft Edge. In a future version, it will also be possible to set the default search engine, since without tools like EdgeDeflector and Mozilla's Firefox, search terms from places like the Start menu opens Microsoft's Bing instead of your chosen default search provider.

As of writing, the latest version is 0.4.1.0 and upon launching the installer, Microsoft's SmartScreen pops up and blocks the app from running, but you can choose Run anyway to install it. gHacks notes that browsers and security applications may display warnings about the program: it is new and designed with AutoIt, that's the reason why it may be flagged.
 

plat

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I have an even better work-around. I uninstalled it w/HiBit. Later, Edge. Helloooo Internet Explorer! NOT. (But that's what opens when you remove Edge successfully enough). Now shopping for an alternate browser. I'll be checking out the possibilities here, including Vivaldi.
 

oldschool

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The only viable option at this point, other than not installing the operating system in first place, is to ignore programs and apps that use the internal protocol.
This is my solution. I only use browsers and avoid other apps.

The other part of my solution is to bombard M$ with "Send feedback" in Edge. They're going to hate me! :LOL: