For several years now Microsoft has been fighting to force Windows users to use the Edge browser, very often forcing links to open up in the browser using the microsoft-edge:// protocol.
This protocol is used for example in the built-in Windows Search and in the News and Interest widget when most users would prefer the links from those sources simply open in their default browser.
Users and developers have fought back by using apps like Edge Deflector, which took ownership of the microsoft-edge:// protocol and directed those links to your preferred browser.
Now the developer of Edge Deflector reports that Microsoft has made it impossible to hijack the protocol between Windows 11 Insider builds 22483 and 22494, meaning the apps no longer work.
The developer writes:
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.
Microsoft doesn’t even bother throwing up the “An app default was reset” error message. It just silently ignores the UserChoice registry keys for the protocol in the registry and opens Microsoft Edge instead. Windows still uses the default protocol associations to detect and present possible Edge beta or preview builds.
The developer, Daniel Aleksandersen, says it is still possible to make Edge Deflector work, but that it requires “destructive changes” to Windows 11, and that this did not seem worth the fight. He will therefore stop updating the app, leaving users with the option of either using Edge or ignoring features such as the News and Interest widget which Microsoft continues to push.
For users, the best action is to complain to their local antitrust regulator or switch to Linux. Your web browser is probably the most important?—?if not the only?—?app you regularly use. Microsoft has made it clear that its priorities for Windows don’t align with its users’.