In response to the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), Microsoft has announced changes to Windows 11 that will give users greater control over their devices. These changes will be implemented for EEA users by March 6, 2024.
- More apps can be uninstalled. Previously, only a few pre-installed apps could be removed from Windows 11. With the DMA-mandated changes, users can uninstall more built-in apps, including Microsoft Edge and Bing.
- Users can change their default search engine. Currently, Microsoft Edge is the default search engine for Windows 11. However, the DMA requires Microsoft to allow users to choose a different search engine, such as Google or DuckDuckGo.
- Personalized ads can be disabled. Windows 11 currently displays personalized ads in the Start menu and other areas. The DMA requires Microsoft to give users the option to disable these ads.
What is the Digital Markets Law?
In response to the growing dominance of large online platforms, the European Commission has proposed the Digital Markets Act (DMA), a regulatory framework designed to foster a fair and competitive digital marketplace within the European Union.
The DMA aims to protect consumer rights, promote innovation, and level the playing field for smaller businesses by imposing specific obligations and prohibitions on designated “gatekeepers,” such as Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft.
These gatekeepers, identified based on their substantial and enduring market power, significant impact on the internal market, and intermediation role connecting a large user base to businesses, will be subject to various measures to curb their influence and ensure equitable access to the digital sphere.
Key provisions of the DMA include:
- Uninstalling pre-installed apps: Users will be free to uninstall more built-in apps, allowing them to tailor their devices to their preferences.
- Choosing default search engines: Instead of being restricted to Microsoft Edge, users can select their preferred search engine, promoting competition and choice.
- Disabling personalized ads: Users will be empowered to disable them, enhancing their control over data privacy and advertising preferences.
- The DMA represents a significant step towards a more equitable digital landscape, empowering users, protecting consumer rights, and fostering a competitive environment encouraging innovation and growth.
What changes will Microsoft make in Windows 11?
Microsoft is making some changes to Windows 11 for people living in Europe to follow new tech rules there. Here’s what will be different:
- You can uninstall the Microsoft Edge web browser more easily if you want to use something else.
- Changing your default search engine from Bing to something else, like Google, will be simpler.
- Microsoft will update Windows so you can turn off news updates and ads in your widgets panel if you don’t want to see stuff from them. You’ll still be able to keep using widgets you like.
- Windows will now remember the apps and settings you prefer to use by default, like your favorite web browser or email app. So if you choose Chrome and Gmail, Windows will open those automatically instead of Microsoft’s apps.
- When setting up Windows, European users are asked if they want to sync settings and preferences with a Microsoft account.
Microsoft says these changes are only for Windows 11 users living in Europe. Starting in December, they plan to roll them out to people testing early Windows versions slowly. The goal is to fully comply with the new European digital rules by March 6, 2024. Users outside of Europe won’t notice any differences.
Microsoft respects the new laws and is committed to delivering a personalized, safe, quality Windows experience. They’ll keep working with European officials to follow regulations and protect user interests.