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Microsoft to stop forcing Edge browser on Windows 11 users in EU

In previous Windows 10 versions and early Windows 11 builds, Microsoft's search feature and taskbar widgets compelled users to use Edge for opening links, overriding their default browser settings. This practice had garnered user frustration and received criticism.

Edited By: Saumya Nigam @snigam04 New Delhi Published on: September 06, 2023 19:40 IST
Microsoft Edge, tech news
Image Source : MICROSOFT EDGE Microsoft Edge browser is not mandatory in the EU for Windows 11

Microsoft is making changes to Windows 11 that will no longer require users in the European Economic Area (EEA) to use Microsoft Edge as the default browser for accessing widgets and search results. This adjustment comes as a response to concerns and criticisms about limiting browser choices for users within the EEA.

The modification is currently in the testing phase and will specifically apply to European countries. In Windows 10 and earlier Windows 11 builds, Microsoft's search function and taskbar widgets directed users to Edge when clicking on links, even if another browser was set as the default. This approach frustrated users and sparked criticism.

With this update, both the search function and Windows Widgets in EU countries will adhere to the user's default browser settings for opening links. Previously, third-party applications like EdgeDeflector were used to open search results in the default browser, but Microsoft had blocked this workaround nearly two years ago.

The move is in line with ongoing discussions regarding digital competition and market fairness in the European Union. Microsoft, along with other tech giants like Apple, is currently negotiating with EU regulators about whether its services should be designated as "gatekeepers" under the Digital Markets Act (DMA). Once designated as gatekeepers, companies will need to comply with regulations aimed at fostering competition and preventing anti-competitive practices.

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Both Microsoft and Apple are privately arguing against their services being categorized as gatekeepers, claiming that their offerings are not dominant enough to warrant such restrictions. While Microsoft is unlikely to dispute that Windows meets the criteria for gatekeeper status, they are challenging the scope of the classification.

The DMA is expected to be enforced by March 2024, and these discussions will play a significant role in shaping the digital landscape and competition within the European Union.

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This change to Windows 11 in the EEA reflects Microsoft's willingness to adjust its practices based on regional regulations and user feedback, a trend increasingly seen in the tech industry as companies navigate complex global regulatory landscapes.

Inputs from IANS

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