The big picture: Microsoft recently released Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 23531 to the Dev Channel, bringing a couple of notable changes and a whole bunch of bug fixes. Not all the changes, however, are applicable to all users globally, as the most notable new feature is only available to people in the European Economic Area (EEA), which includes the European Union alongside Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway.
As part of the change, Windows 11 PCs in the region will soon open all links in the default web browser rather than Microsoft Edge. It will be a welcome update, as people have often expressed frustration at Microsoft's decision to override default browser settings in recent versions of Windows and open some help articles, links from the Settings panel, and Widget stories in Edge.
Earlier this year, the company also angered users by confirming that all browser links from Outlook and Teams in Windows 10 and 11 devices will now open in Edge, disregarding the default browser setting. In Outlook in Windows, the email containing the link now also opens in the Edge sidebar alongside the linked content. Moreover, embedded links in Teams messages will open in Microsoft Edge in the future, the company said.
Meanwhile, it's not immediately clear why only people in the EEA will be the beneficiaries of the latest change, as the problem affects all Windows 10 and 11 users, irrespective of their location. As you'd expect, the news that the vast majority of Windows users will continue to be forced to use Edge against their will has not gone down well.
As pointed out by Bleeping Computer, people on internet forums are looking for ways to trick their PCs into thinking that they are in the EU, just so Windows will abide by their default browser choice. For now, at least, there doesn't seem to be any obvious way for people outside the EEA to stop Edge from opening links on their PC, but it will be interesting to see if Microsoft will eventually implement the change for all users globally.
Windows 11 comes with a number of upgrades over previous versions of Windows, and most of the changes have been received warmly by users and the media alike. However, it continues to have minor irritants that spoil the experience for power users. One can only hope that Microsoft will iron out most of these issues by the time it releases Windows 12, possibly sometime next year.