You can finally purge your PC of default Windows apps

A new piece of EU regulation is forcing tech companies to make some drastic changes to policy. To stay compliant 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 stay 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 even uninstall Bing from Web Search.

The news feed in the Windows 11 panel.

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 has changed in Europe recently. Being able to uninstall Edge solves this problem. But it’s also a reversal on how Microsoft has handled default apps in general, especially given how hard Microsoft has pushed adoption of the Edge browser on Windows 11 PCs in particular. Just go ahead and try to change your default browser or search for “Google Chrome” in Bing Search and see what happens.

There’s a catch to these changes, though. The ability to uninstall Edge and Bing in particular ia reserved for only PCs sold in the European Economic Area (EEA). While that includes nearly every country in Europe, it does not include PCs sold in the U.S. — or anywhere else in the world, for that matter. So, while you’ll be able to uninstall Camera and Photos, the two big applications are left off the table for non-EEA PCs for some reason.

The other big change for EEA PCs is to the Widgets Board. You’ll be able to turn off the Microsoft News and ads feed alongside your widgets. Again,this is not a change that seems to be available for PCs sold outside the EEA.

These changes (and more) will be rolled out to the Release Preview Channel for Windows Insiders as update version 23H2. The changes will also be coming to Windows 10 (versions 22H2 and 23H2) in the EEA by March 6 of 2024.

All this is being done to comply with the Digital Markets Act, a piece of legislation that’s meant to ensure users have choices and that large companies don’t abuse power over competition.

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