A new piece of EU regulation is forcing tech companies to make some drastic changes in policy. To comply with the Digital Markets Act, Apple is being forced to adopt RCS for iPhones and Microsoft will now let you uninstall the Edge browser from your Windows 11 PC.
Microsoft published a blog post with all the details on how it will remain compliant, but the biggest change is the ability to uninstall default apps. Edge is chief among them, but you’ll also be able to uninstall Camera, Cortana, and Photos. You can also uninstall Bing from Web Search.
This is important because, even if you’ve chosen a different browser as your default, there are some situations where Windows 11 will force you to use Edge – although this recently changed in Europe. Being able to uninstall Edge solves this problem. But it’s also a departure from how Microsoft has handled default apps in general, especially considering how much emphasis Microsoft has placed on driving adoption of the Edge browser on Windows 11 PCs in particular. Just go ahead and try changing your default browser or search “Google Chrome” in Bing search and see what happens.
However, there is a catch to these changes. Notably the ability to uninstall Edge and Bing is reserved only for PCs sold in the European Economic Area (EEA). Although this includes almost every country in Europe, it does not include PCs sold in the US or anywhere else in the world. So, while you will be able to uninstall Camera and Photos, the two big applications will be left off the table for non-EEA PCs for some reason.
The other big change for EEA PCs is to the widgets board. You will be able to turn off your widgets as well as the Microsoft News and Ads feeds. Again, this is not a change that appears to be available for PCs sold outside the EEA.
These changes (and more) will be implemented on the Release Preview Channel for Windows Insiders as of update version 23H2. The changes will also roll out to Windows 10 (versions 22H2 and 23H2) in the EEA by March 6 of 2024.
This is all being done to comply with the Digital Markets Act, a piece of legislation aimed at ensuring that users have choice and that big companies do not abuse power over competition.