For several years, Microsoft has struggled to force Windows users to use the Edge browser, very often forcing links to open in the browser using the microsoft-edge: // protocol.
This protocol is used for example in the built-in Windows search and in the News & Interest widget when most users would prefer the links from these sources to simply open in their default browser.
Users and developers fought back using apps like Edge Deflector, which took ownership of the microsoft-edge: // protocol and directed those links to your favorite browser.
Now, the developer of Edge Deflector reports that Microsoft has made it impossible to hijack the protocol between Windows 11 Insider versions 22483 and 22494, which means apps no longer work.
The developer writes:
You cannot change the default protocol association through registry changes, OEM Partner customizations, Microsoft Edge package changes, interference with OpenWith.exe, or any other workaround.
Microsoft doesn’t even bother to display the “A default application has been reset” error message. It just ignores the UserChoice registry keys for the protocol in the registry and opens Microsoft Edge instead. Windows always uses the default protocol associations to detect and present possible beta or preview versions of Edge.
Developer Daniel Aleksandersen says it’s still possible to get Edge Deflector to work, but it requires “destructive tweaks” to Windows 11, and it didn’t seem like it was worth it. So it will stop updating the app, giving users the option of using Edge or skipping features like the News & Interests widget that Microsoft continues to push.
He concludes :
For users, the best action is to complain to their local antitrust regulator or to switch to Linux. Your web browser is probably the most important? – if not the only one? – the application you use on a regular basis. Microsoft has made it clear that its priorities for Windows do not match those of its users.