Microsoft To Switch Outlook Web Links to Its Edge Browser by Default
Microsoft has given advance notice to some organizations using Outlook for Windows of a coming default switch to the Microsoft Edge browser for opened Web links.
Per the coming change, Outlook for Windows users will click on a Web link in an e-mail, which will then open the Microsoft Edge browser, while also displaying the e-mail in Edge's Sidebar. This change will apply to "web links from Azure Active Directory (AAD) accounts and Microsoft (MSA) accounts in the Outlook for Windows app," Microsoft explained in Message Center MC541626, which just gets seen by IT pros with Microsoft 365 administrator permissions.
With this new coming scenario, links will just open in Microsoft Edge for Web links. Other links, such as app links, aren't affected by the coming change. Microsoft's message claimed that this change isn't affecting a user's default browser choice, but it will direct to Microsoft Edge regardless of a user's default browser, which will be the coming default behavior unless IT pros or individuals make a configuration change.
IT pros who may get the MC541626 message will have just 30 days to react. They can use the "Choose which browser opens web links" policy via the "Cloud Policy service for Microsoft 365" or "Administrative Templates for Microsoft 365 Apps" to change the coming default, if wanted, according to MC541626.
However, the ability to make such a change via policy appears to be limited to "Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise (not business)" tenancies, according to this Reddit post on MC541626. Administrators using other Microsoft 365 subscriptions may have to manually apply the change to each Windows client, if wanted, the Reddit post explained.
This switch to the Edge browser for Web links was forecast in this February Microsoft announcement, which was supposed to only apply to users of Microsoft 365 Personal or Family plans. The change was conceived by Microsoft as making things easier for those users.
At some point, it seems Microsoft decided to include commercial customers as well with this switch. Possibly, MC541626 isn't getting sent to all Microsoft 365 customers and Microsoft may be just "testing the waters," per the Reddit post.
However, veteran Microsoft reporter Mary Jo Foley, following the lead of this Petri.com post, seemed to get a confirmation that organizations are getting this MC541626 notice this week, and Microsoft 365 Business subscribers will be faced with manual configurations.
Here's Foley's description from a Directions on Microsoft blog post:
Microsoft is telling admins this week they have 30 days' notice that this change will be rolling out in Outlook for Windows for all business customers. IT pros can configure policies to manage this for Microsoft 365 apps. But those with Microsoft 365 Business plans need to control this on individual client PCs can do this by going to Outlook, File > Options >Advanced > Link handling and selecting their preferred browsers from the drop-down menu, according to a report from Neowin.net.
The Petri.com post also noted that Microsoft had issued Message Center post MC531738, which specifies a similar switch to Microsoft Edge for Web links in Outlook for Android and iOS. That switch is expected to take place in "early May."
Foley interpreted Microsoft's effort to divert its commercial customers to Microsoft Edge in this way as "strongarm" tactics that "could end up backfiring."
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.