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Brave and Mozilla intercept the specific references

Both Brave and Mozilla want to intercept the Microsoft-specific links to Edge and display them themselves. Microsoft not only makes it more difficult in Windows 11 to use a web browser other than Edge by default but also extends the use of Edge links everywhere in the operating system and in-house apps, which force the use of Microsoft’s Edge again bypassing the changed standard browser setting. 

The interception of these links has already been implemented in the Brave web browser, and Mozilla has now started implementing a similar function.

The background to this is that links force the use of Edge if they have a Microsoft-edge: instead of the https: protocol. Microsoft apparently wants to achieve greater use of Edge and bypass the standard browser settings of users.

The idea is not new, it started with Google and Apple

Because in the predecessors of iOS version 14 Apple did not allow the standard browser settings to be changed and the browser on iOS devices was always Safari, Google came up with the idea in 2014 to add google chrome: links to in-house search and mail apps for iOS built-in so that the Chrome browser shell was opened from them, instead of Apple’s Safari.

So Google developed these browser-specific links to attack Apple’s anti-competitive behavior – now Microsoft is increasingly using the same technology in the same way and is once again warming up a browser war.

Brave goes even further and redirects searches

Brave goes one step further and can also redirect search queries from Microsoft’s apps to the user’s standard search engine in Brave – if users click on a “Search with Bing” button in Microsoft’s apps, they’ll end up in their preferred search engine.

The author thinks about it

But fiddling with app-specific protocols and redirecting search queries is not necessarily a problem because it can lead to unexpected user experiences – including errors and dead ends. Rather, it is to be feared that a phenomenon from ten to twenty years ago will reappear more intensely: Apps that briefly install standard search engines, browser shells or URL filters during the installation process. Because the development of such malware is really cheap if others have already taken care of the removal of protective measures and the source code is already available.