Windows 11 is the latest version of Microsoft’s operating system, which was released on October 5, 2021. It has a redesigned and refreshed look, new tools, sounds and apps, and improved security and performance.
However, not everyone is happy with some of the features that Windows 11 offers, especially in the European market. In this article, we will explore some of the changes that Microsoft is making to Windows 11 in Europe to comply with the Digital Markets Act (DMA) and to address the concerns of the users.
What is the Digital Markets Act?
The Digital Markets Act is a proposed regulation by the European Commission that aims to ensure fair and open competition in the digital sector. It targets large online platforms that act as “gatekeepers” for access to customers, data, or markets.
The DMA sets out a list of obligations and prohibitions for these gatekeepers, such as not favouring their services, allowing users to uninstall pre-installed apps, and providing interoperability and data portability. The DMA also empowers the Commission to impose fines and sanctions for non-compliance and to designate new gatekeepers as the market evolves.
How is Windows 11 Affected by the DMA?
Microsoft has announced that it will make Windows 11 compliant with the DMA in the European Economic Area (EEA), which includes the 27 EU member states, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway.
This means that Windows 11 users in the EEA will have more choice and control over their PC experience, and will be able to uninstall or disable some of the features that are currently mandatory or hard to remove. These features include:
- Edge Browser: Windows 11 users in the EEA will be able to uninstall the Edge browser, which is the default web browser for Windows 11. Edge is based on the Chromium engine, and offers features such as vertical tabs, collections, and integration with Microsoft 365. However, some users may prefer to use other browsers, such as Chrome, Firefox, or Opera, and may not want to have Edge taking up space on their PC.
- Bing Search: Windows 11 users in the EEA will be able to disable Bing Search, which is the default search engine for Windows 11. Bing search is integrated with the Windows 11 taskbar and allows users to search the web, their PC, and their files with a single click. However, some users may prefer to use other search engines, such as Google, DuckDuckGo, or Qwant, and may not want to have Bing collecting their data or showing them ads.
- Microsoft Store: Windows 11 users in the EEA will be able to disable the Microsoft Store, which is the default app store for Windows 11. The Microsoft Store offers a curated selection of apps, games, movies, and TV shows, and also hosts the new Android apps that are compatible with Windows 11. However, some users may prefer to download apps from other sources, such as the web, or may not want to have the Microsoft Store running in the background or updating automatically.
- Microsoft Account: Windows 11 users in the EEA will be able to use Windows 11 without a Microsoft account, which is currently required for Windows 11 Home and Windows 11 Pro for personal use. A Microsoft account allows users to sync their settings, files, and preferences across their devices, and to access Microsoft services such as OneDrive, Outlook, and Skype. However, some users may prefer to use a local account or a different online account, and may not want to share their personal information with Microsoft.
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When Will These Changes Take Effect?
Microsoft has not specified a date for when these changes will take effect, but it has said that it will provide more details in the coming weeks. It has also said that it will work closely with the European Commission and other stakeholders to ensure that Windows 11 meets the expectations and needs of European users and regulators.
Microsoft has also stated that it supports the DMA and its objectives and that it believes that the DMA will create a level playing field for the digital sector in Europe.
The EU will finally free Windows users from Bing. Windows 11 is about to be different in Europe, as Microsoft lets users uninstall more apps and even add custom search providers:
The EU will finally free Windows users from Bing. Windows 11 is about to be different in Europe, as Microsoft lets users uninstall more apps and even add custom search providers. Here’s exactly how Windows 11 is changing 👇 https://t.co/02pvJisX3G
— Tom Warren (@tomwarren) November 16, 2023
What Are the Benefits and Drawbacks of These Changes?
The changes that Microsoft is making to Windows 11 in Europe will have both benefits and drawbacks for the users and the company. Some of the potential benefits are:
- More choice and control: Users will be able to customize their PC experience according to their preferences, and will not be forced to use or keep features that they do not want or need. Users will also be able to switch to other platforms or services without losing their data or functionality.
- More privacy and security: Users will be able to limit the amount of data that they share with Microsoft or other third parties, and will not be exposed to unwanted ads or tracking. Users will also be able to protect their PCs from potential vulnerabilities or malware that may affect the pre-installed apps or services.
- More competition and innovation: Users will be able to access a wider range of apps, services, and content from different providers, and will not be locked into a single ecosystem. This will also encourage the providers to improve their offerings and to compete on quality, price, and features.
Some of the potential drawbacks are:
- Less convenience and integration: Users may lose some of the benefits and features that the pre-installed apps or services provide, such as seamless syncing, compatibility, and support. Users may also have to spend more time and effort to find, install, and update the apps or services that they want to use.
- Less consistency and reliability: Users may encounter some issues or errors when using different apps or services that are not designed or optimized for Windows 11. Users may also have to deal with different interfaces, standards, and policies that may vary across the apps or services.
- Less revenue and market share: Microsoft may lose some of the income and influence that it generates from the pre-installed apps or services, such as advertising, subscriptions, and commissions. Microsoft may also lose some of the users and customers that it attracts and retains through its ecosystem and network effects.
Windows 11 is undergoing some changes in Europe to comply with the Digital Markets Act and to address the concerns of the users. These changes will give users more choice and control over their PC experience, but will also have some trade-offs and implications for both the users and the company.
It remains to be seen how these changes will affect the adoption and satisfaction of Windows 11 in the European market, and how Microsoft will adapt and respond to the new regulatory and competitive environment.