In brief: Good news for Windows 11 users in the European Union: Microsoft will soon allow you to uninstall the Edge browser from the OS, disable Bing search, and more. The Redmond company isn't being generous for no reason: Microsoft's hand is being forced by the European Commission's Digital Markets Act (DMA), which comes into effect in March next year.
Microsoft is one of the six "gatekeepers" named in the EU's DMA alongside Apple, Amazon, ByteDance, Google, and Meta. A gatekeeper is defined as any tech company with more than 45 million monthly active users and a market cap of $82 billion. The idea behind the DMA is to ensure users are given more choice and the companies don't gain an unfair advantage.
Microsoft has now announced the upcoming release of the November 2023 non-security preview update for Windows 11, version 23H2 to the Release Preview Channel (Build 22631.2787) that previews many of the changes made to Windows 11 to meet the DMA's obligations, which must be met by March 6, 2024.
Some big changes for users in the EU include the ability to uninstall Edge, which right now can't be removed using conventional means from Windows 11 or Windows 10, and Bing web search from Windows Search. Microsoft is also allowing EU users to remove Photos, Cortana, and Camera, something it has already been doing in the US. Moreover, Microsoft is clearly marking the apps that are system components in Windows 11.
European Economic Area (EEA) markets will also receive interoperability for feeds in the Windows Widgets board and web search in Windows Search, allowing users to run software from third parties such as Google inside each feature.
The ability to remove Edge and Bing will only be available in the EEA. As Microsoft explains: "Windows uses the region chosen by the customer during device setup to identify if the PC is in the EEA. Once chosen in device setup, the region used for DMA compliance can only be changed by resetting the PC."
Finally, Microsoft writes that Windows will continue to ask EEA customers when they open content in a newly installed app if they want to change the default. They will keep being asked to sync their Microsoft account with Windows, too.
Following the arrival of the Windows 11 previews, Microsoft will be rolling out a similar preview for Windows 10 "at a later date."