IT admins across the internet are livid, with multiple threads across Reddit showing disdain for the change in Outlook link functionality. To make matters worse, Microsoft says that the same fate awaits Teams as well. This appears to be an effort by Microsoft to roll this design change out across all Microsoft 365 users gradually, while IT admins receive a 30-day notice before the changes go into effect on Outlook.
Microsoft 365 Enterprise IT admins will be able to alter the policy, but those on Microsoft 365 for business will have to make adjustments on individual machines. Many small businesses will soon have to deal with hours of unnecessary headache due to these changes. Someone without knowledge around these changes would click a link thinking they were using the same tools as before, only to find themselves on a different browser without any of their favorites or features available
Microsoft claims that the change is designed to make it easier for Outlook and Teams users to reduce task switching across windows and tabs to help stay focused, but we all know the real reason. A few weeks prior, Microsoft promised significant changes on the way Windows manages which apps open certain files or links by default. They are quoted as saying “we have a responsibility to ensure user choices are respected” and that “it’s important that we lead by example with our own first party Microsoft products.”
Being forced to use Edge seems closer to an abuse of power than respecting user choice. This isn’t the first time something like this has happened either. In 2018, Microsoft attempted to force people clicking links in the Windows 10 mail app to use Edge, although this was quickly shut down due to backlash from testers. In 2020, Microsoft tried to force Chrome’s default search engine to be Bing using the Office 365 installer, which left a bad taste in people’s mouths.
Microsoft has already been using aggressive prompts to stop you from using Chrome and even added a giant Bing button to Edge to pull people into using its search engine. Microsoft has faced criticism over adding buy now, pay later financing options to Edge and its plan to build a crypto wallet into Edge. They also added a prompt to Edge Dev that appears when trying to use Google’s rival Bard AI chatbot.
Does Microsoft truly believe that the way to gain consumer trust is through poking and prodding? Who knows? Despite being a titan in the software sphere and creating ingenious products, they still take the time to bother business customers that aren’t using every Microsoft product under the sun. Whether you are using an accessible inbox that isn’t Outlook or protection delivered under some service that isn’t Windows Defender, they will find a way to bother you into either using their services or standing up and saying enough is enough. Hopefully they change their tune in the future, but if the past is any indicator, that is more wishful thinking.