Windows 11’s EdgeDeflector block is now in public builds, pushing users towards Edge
We’ve covered Microsoft’s antics regarding its in-house Edge browser a few times in the past, from making it harder to change your default browser in Windows 11 to some very blatant marketing messages when downloading rival browsers. One of the things we’ve seen the company do recently was blocking EdgeDeflector, a software that was designed to redirect custom Windows 11 links — which are designed to only open in Edge — to your default browser instead. Now, that block has rolled out to all Windows 11 users as part of build 22000.376.
Initially, this EdgeDeflector block showed in the Dev channel of the Windows Insider Program, so it was apparent that Microsoft was already planning to do this, but it was hard to tell when it would happen. As reported by HowToGeek, the latest Patch Tuesday update rolled out earlier this week brought that block to the wider Windows 11 userbase, meaning even more users are now forced to use Edge.
This only applies to custom links that are found in Windows 11 itself, such as when you click a news article in the Widgets pane or use Windows Search to search the web. These links use a custom handler that redirects them to the Edge browser, regardless of what your default is, which is what EdgeDeflector tried to change. It wasn’t the only software that did this, however, as Mozilla’s Firefox browser did something similar on its own.
Thankfully, shortly after EdgeDeflector was blocked in Windows 11 Insider builds, an alternative solution showed up. This new app, called MSEdgeRedirect, uses a different approach that “filters and passes the command line arguments of Microsoft Edge processes into your default browser”. As of now, it hasn’t been blocked, so you can still use it if you want to avoid Edge at all costs. However, unlike the other solutions, this one requires the app to be running at all times to redirect the links to the default browser.
There’s a solid chance Microsoft will try to block this workaround, too, so we don’t know how long you’ll be able to rely on it. For the time being, though, you can download MSEdgeRedirect from GitHub.
Browser maker Vivaldi recently called out Microsoft for its anti-competitive practices with Edge, and we can only hope the company will listen to feedback and relax its aggressive Edge marketing. Recent Windows 11 builds in the Dev channel have shown some signs of progress, with Microsoft adding a button to change the default browser in the Settings app.