Microsoft Edge Will Soon Hijack Outlook and Teams Links by Default

Microsoft Edge
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft is again drawing users' ire with new changes coming to Microsoft 365 Outlook and Teams apps. Previously with these apps, clicking on a link would open the default browser that a user set within Windows. So, if you clicked a link in Outlook and your default browser was Google Chrome, it would only open in Chrome.

However, Microsoft explains that these links will now open in Microsoft Edge by default. Edge is, of course, the successor to Internet Explorer, and Microsoft has tried all kinds of tricks over the years to boost the browser's market share. Nevertheless, Microsoft says that this change is for the benefit of its users.

"If you have a Microsoft 365 Personal or Family subscription, browser links from the Outlook app will open in Microsoft Edge by default, right alongside the email they're from in the Microsoft Edge sidebar pane," Microsoft writes in a support post. "This allows you to easily access, read, and respond to the message using your matching authenticated profile. No more disruptive switching—just your email and the web content you need to reference, in a single, side-by-side view."

According to Microsoft, this change will first come to Outlook but later arrive for Teams to "help you stay engaged in conversations as you browse the web."

Not surprisingly, many users aren't thrilled about Microsoft's latest change of heart to "help" its users. A quick trip to the sysadmin Reddit shows that IT administrators are livid about the change. "In all seriousness, forcing their browser on users through unscrupulous OS choices and vendor negotiations was the prime reason for the original anti-trust suit. I fail to see how this is any different at all," wrote ripvannwinkler. Another user, unixuser011, added, "This isn't the 90's anymore, you can't act like Edge is the only game in town, you have to respect people's browser choice. You aren't Google, stop acting like it." 

Redditor hume_reddit provided further context on how the change affects organizations:

  • Only links set to open via a web browser are affected. Links that are set to open in a client app or within Outlook itself will continue to do so.
  • User experiences will vary by policy configuration; please see the next section.
  • Web links from all accounts in the Outlook for Windows app will open in Microsoft Edge, but the side-by-side experience is not available for non-AAD or non-MSA accounts at this time.

As if sensing that this change wouldn't be well-received by all users, Microsoft concludes its support post by stating, "Ultimately though, if this experience isn't right for you, you can turn off this feature the first time it launches in Microsoft Edge, and then in Outlook settings at any time after that."

Interestingly, this latest pro-Edge move comes as StatCounter reports that Apple's Safari overtook Edge for second place in global desktop browser market share for April 2023. StatCounter reports that Safari captured 11.89 percent of the desktop browser market, while Edge slipped to 10.95 percent.

Brandon Hill

Brandon Hill is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware. He has written about PC and Mac tech since the late 1990s with bylines at AnandTech, DailyTech, and Hot Hardware. When he is not consuming copious amounts of tech news, he can be found enjoying the NC mountains or the beach with his wife and two sons.

  • peachpuff
    Microsoft being scummy... news at 11!
  • RichardtST
    Windows is an advertising and data-collection program. Ever hear of the frog and the pot of water story? Throw a frog into boiling water and it will jump out. Throw it into cold water and turn up the heat, the frog will happily turn to soup... Windows is the same, every release they crank up the heat... you are the frog.
  • ezst036
    Admin said:
    Microsoft hasn't learned its lesson about overriding users' preferences.
    Yet another reason why Mac and Linux usage is rising, and Windows usage is falling.

    People get sick of this type of stuff. And it happens every so often. See in you in 3 or so months for the next time.
  • OneMoreUser
    Just when I thought Microsoft wasn't evil... no wait I never stopped thinking of them as evil.
    If Microsoft were to offer their user to active this scheme it would sort of be okay, but this BA is just more of the same crap they've always pull.
    Lets hope the EU give them another kick in the gut.
  • Dr3ams
    Edge? No thanks. Chrome has everything I want under one roof.

    Also...type Google Chrome into Edge's search engine and get this response:

    "There's no need to download a new web browser. Microsoft recommends using Microsoft Edge for a fast, secure, and modern web experience that can help save you time and money".
  • hotaru251
    Nevertheless, Microsoft says that this change is for the benefit of its users.

    you mean users like me who have never once opened up Edge because I have a flash drive with firefox installer on it?
    Edge sucks.
    Chromium sucks.

    MS needs stop being the "parent" thinking they know what is best for us.
  • JamesJones44
    I swear the people who runs these companies are incapable of deep thought. On one hand you are trying to convince regulators that you are changed company and should approve the Activision acquisition because they won't lock users in... but then you go and do this to show that you are, in fact, good old MS and more that happy to lock people in anyway you can.
  • ralfthedog
    This won't directly effect me. We use MacOS for our UI computers and Linux for our servers. That said, if I was in the target group, I would be furious. I run different accounts on different browsers. This makes it much less complicated to have more than one account open at a time. I could be acting as both an administrator and a user when debugging a problem. Having something in the background decide what browser I want would be a serious pain.
  • brandonjclark
    I'm 100% for this, HONEST.
  • USAFRet
    "Ultimately though, if this experience isn't right for you, you can turn off this feature the first time it launches in Microsoft Edge, and then in Outlook settings at any time after that."

    Obviously, we shouldn't have to.
    But it looks easy enough to turn off.

    And of course those in a networked situation with pushed GPOs....this will be disabled by default.