Microsoft is blocking users from circumventing Edge browser links in Windows 11

Microsoft Edge
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Windows 11 is still definitely here and has been making big waves, both good and bad since its October 5 launch. There were quite a few day one bugs to kick us off, plus expired certificate issues, not to mention just needing to optimise it for best gaming experience. Now Windows 11 users have discovered Microsoft has even more dirty tricks up its sleeve. 

According to EdgeDeflector creator Daniel Aleksandersen's Ctrl.Blog, a change in protocol and file associations regarding default apps in the newest build of Windows 11 comes with a very cheeky flow-on effect. It stops users from circumnavigating Microsoft's annoying proprietary links.

Many links baked into Microsoft apps, including Windows 10 and 11 are prefaced with a proprietary Microsoft Edge protocol, forcing the use of the included browser. Things like the new news and weather widgets in Windows are absolutely guilty. This is why you may notice links opening in Edge despite your insistence on never using it or even having another set as your default internet perusal method. Of course Edge takes this opportunity to beg to be made the default once more, which could easily confuse less savvy users into thinking it's a required selection.

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Many users who care enough get around this annoyance with an app like Aleksandersen’s freely offered EdgeDeflector. The whole job of this app is to change those links back to regular https ones that will open in your default browser of choice. It's a nice solution to an infuriating problem no one should have. So much so that competitor browsers such as Brave and FireFox were planning to bake the feature in.

So it's not too surprising that new updates and builds of Windows 11 have changed this functionality. Aleksandersen explains with the new protocol settings, users can't even set preferred default browser. Instead have to set specific link associations for different protocols, even the basic ones like https. For some reason the Microsoft Edge protocol can't be set to anything other than Microsoft Edge. 

That being said, whether users are knowingly making the choice or not, Microsoft Edge is seeing a boon in popularity this year. Ever since Microsoft decided to ditch Internet Explorer and old Edge and build a Chromium-based browser, it has started to take off. It's just things like this which make me wonder how many people are making that choice, rather than being tricked into it.

Hope Corrigan
Hardware Writer

Hope’s been writing about games for about a decade, starting out way back when on the Australian Nintendo fan site Since then, she’s talked far too much about games and tech for publications such as Techlife, Byteside, IGN, and GameSpot. Of course there’s also here at PC Gamer, where she gets to indulge her inner hardware nerd with news and reviews. You can usually find Hope fawning over some art, tech, or likely a wonderful combination of them both and where relevant she’ll share them with you here. When she’s not writing about the amazing creations of others, she’s working on what she hopes will one day be her own. You can find her fictional chill out ambient far future sci-fi radio show/album/listening experience podcast right here. No, she’s not kidding.