It's time for a look at the latest Insider Preview build of Windows 10. There are some small but welcome improvements, such as the addition of HEIF (high efficiency file format) that lets you more easily save and view photos and videos from across the web, along with a safer removal process for people using external GPUs. OK, cool.
But if you keep scrolling, near the bottom of the patch notes for build 17623, there's a bullet point that says Insiders on the Skip Ahead ring "will begin testing a change where links clicked on within the Windows Mail app will open in Microsoft Edge". Please say it ain't so. This means that regardless of what your default browser is set to in Windows 10, any hyperlink you click in the Mail app would open in Edge, whether you like it or not.
Microsoft justifies this by saying Edge "provides the best, most secure and consistent experience on Windows 10 and across your devices" and that "With built-in features for reading, note-taking, Cortana integration, and easy access to services such as SharePoint and OneDrive, Microsoft Edge enables you to be more productive, organised and creative without sacrificing your battery life or security."
Now, you may be yelling at your screen right now about how this sounds like some Apple-level crap, and it is - kind of. When you click on a link in the macOS Mail app, for example, Apple still honours your default web browser. However, iOS is a different story, where links in the mobile Mail app get sent to Safari every time.
So in a way, you might say Microsoft is actually trying to stay ahead of Apple, but in a sad, unfriendly manner. Edge is a totally fine browser, and I appreciate how lightweight it is compared to Chrome, which often hogs more than its fair share of resources. But people who like Edge probably already have it set as their default browser. This change will just force Edge on others who might not feel the same.
Thankfully, as part of the Windows 10 Insider Program, this feature may not ever see an official release, assuming people complain about it enough. It's hard to hate on Microsoft too much for trying something new with a limited number of users, but eliminating the freedom of choice doesn't seem like a smart decision.