Windows 11 is now blocking Edge blockers — seriously — but there's a workaround

The Windows 11 logo seen through a digital magnifying glass
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Last month, Windows 11 Insiders got an early look at Microsoft’s move to block users avoiding the Edge browser for certain functions. Now, the update has rolled out to everyone using Windows 11 in build 22000.376.

While Windows 11 now makes it easier to change default browser functions, some functionality within the OS — such as the news and weather widgets — are hard coded to open in Microsoft Edge via “microsoft-edge://” links. Previously, apps like EdgeDeflector could redirect this to a browser of your choice, but that loophole has now been closed. 

That’s probably because Mozilla’s Firefox reportedly planned to take advantage of the same loophole, something that Microsoft described as “improper.” It’s one thing for a small app with 500,000 users to take advantage, but quite another when a browser with some 198 million fans plans to follow suit. 

“You can no longer set anything but Microsoft Edge as the protocol handler for the microsoft-edge:// protocol,” wrote EdgeDeflector creator Daniel Aleksandersen at the time. “Or rather, you can choose between Microsoft Edge, Microsoft Edge (Insider Beta), and Microsoft Edge (Insider Dev). No third-party apps are allowed to handle the protocol.” 

No registry changes, OEM partner customizations, modifications to the Edge package or OpenWith.exe edits could fix it, Aleksandersen wrote, and subsequently the developer ceased work on his application as it would involve “more destructive changes to Windows.”

 The workaround 

For now, there is a workaround: a new app called MSEdgeRedirect, which you can download from GitHub here. It, according to the description, “filters and passes the command line arguments of Microsoft Edge processes into your default browser.” 

But it’s not as elegant a solution as EdgeDeflector, because it has to be running in the background at all times to function.

Given that it uses different methods to achieve the same goal, there’s also every chance that this will also be blocked by Microsoft at some point in the future. But for now, it’s an option for those that really can’t stomach the idea of using Edge for anything.

Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.