Windows 11 forces Microsoft’s browser on more users by blocking Edge workaround

TestFlight allows users to try out test versions of certain apps, and send feedback to developers. It first appeared as an independent app on both iOS and Android in 2010 before it was bought by Apple in 2014, when Android support was unsurprisingly removed. Hopefully, this new draconian measure is something Microsoft will reconsider, but given past history, we wouldn’t bank on it. Clearly, this is Microsoft throwing its weight around to ensure that Edge keeps on popping up for those using its own apps or features like News and interests – and a less than subtle way of reminding people that Edge exists, and that they should consider switching (various popups do that regularly for Windows users, as we’ve seen in the past – this kind of behavior is nothing new).

Before the debut of TestFlight on the Mac, it was a bit of a mess for a developer to give access to a certain group of users to try out early versions of the app. With developers clamouring for the same easy method of distributing pre-release apps to the Mac, it’s now a reality in macOS Monterey, where they can send invites to testers and easily approve or decline requests. With its release on the Mac App Store, there’s now greater opportunity for developers to test new features and apps in a much easier way, and to get feedback from potential customers.

While it’s strange that it’s taken almost seven years for TestFlight to come to the Mac, it’s better to see it arrive late than not at all. There’s no reason to make this change aside from furthering the reach of Edge, of course. Bear in mind at this point, this is just a change which is in testing (so Windows Insiders, make your feelings known if they’re strong ones).

In short, these links cannot be redirected at all as of this build. After Apple announced TestFlight on the Mac in June at WWDC to the delight of developers and users, the app is now available for macOS Monterey users. As you’re likely aware, there are instances in Microsoft’s desktop OS where even if you’re running with Chrome, Firefox or another alternative as your default app for browsing, links will still be opened in Edge now and then, when clicking them in certain Microsoft apps.

However, as Aleksandersen points out in a post on his Ctrl.Blog, with Windows 11 preview build 22494 (released at the start of November) Microsoft has changed things so that it’s impossible for anything but Microsoft Edge to be set as the protocol handler for ‘microsoft-edge://’ links. Since the iOS version was released back in 2014, many people were waiting for a macOS version to arrive, so it’s great to see it finally arrive. TestFlight on macOS Monterey An obvious example that springs to mind is the ‘News and interests’ widget on the taskbar, which presents various news, sports, weather and other articles, all of which will open in Edge no matter what your default setting is for the web browser in Windows. This is where third-party apps like EdgeDeflector from Daniel Aleksandersen come in, because at the moment, they can take these ‘microsoft-edge://’ links and automatically switch them to normal ones (‘https://’) that will open in your specified default browser. And it also leads to the bizarre situation where even if you banish Edge from your system completely, these links will still try to open in a non-existent browser.

This is due to the use of a proprietary Microsoft Edge protocol heading up the links, namely ‘microsoft-edge://’ (which forces opening in Edge) rather than the usual ‘https://’. Microsoft knows full well the danger of pushing too hard with its products – just remember the debacle around encouraging users to take up the offer of a free upgrade to Windows 10 – so let’s hope for the best in terms of browser freedom in Windows. Aleksandersen points out: “Windows will insist you use Microsoft Edge to a fault even if you brutalize your Windows installation and purge all traces of Microsoft Edge.

It’s going to allow developers to receive feedback in a much more streamlined way, and can help give them ideas to further improve upon the new features that they’re working on, which will hopefully result in even better Mac apps for us to use in the future. It works by overwriting the existing version of the app on your device if it’s installed, and you can then try out the latest features and send feedback to the developer. But for years, developers and users have been wanting to see TestFlight on the Mac, as it was seen as the ideal application to help test other apps that were only available on macOS. This also means that browsers like Firefox or Brave, which were implementing their own versions of this kind of protocol redirection, will be unable to do so, leaving Edge as the only route for opening these links from Microsoft’s own apps and services.

A link to a pre-release app would be sent through email or social media, with no way of measuring how many had downloaded the app and no way of restricting access once the new version was publicly available. Developers have seen TestFlight as a perfect method of testing the waters for its apps.

Windows 11 forces Microsoft’s browser on more users by blocking Edge workaround


p>Microsoft Edge icon shown on touchscreen Perhaps what’s the real shame is that Edge actually stands perfectly well on its own as a good product, and should be left to make a name for itself over time on those grounds. These kind of measures – and various popups or increased use of ads – are only likely to interfere negatively with the browser’s potential adoption in the end. Microsoft has changed Windows 11 in a recently unleashed preview build, blocking a workaround that was ensuring that some links which were being opened in Edge were presented in the user’s default browser instead (as they should be, really).

Windows will open an empty UWP window and show an error message instead of letting you use your preferred web browser.” Whether it’s a new feature or a completely new app, a user only needs to download TestFlight, follow a link from the developer, and download the test version for their device.

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