Microsoft enters the VPN wars with new service built into Edge

Edge Insider
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Following on the heels of Google and Apple, Microsoft is the latest tech giant to enter the VPN space and Microsoft Edge users will soon be able to access a free VPN service directly from the software giant’s browser.

According to a recent support document, the company’s new VPN service will be called Microsoft Edge Secure Network and it will be powered by Cloudflare. It’s worth noting though that Microsoft doesn’t specifically refer to the new feature as a VPN but much like iCloud Private Relay, it functions in the same way as one.

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Although Microsoft Edge Secure Network is currently in preview, once the feature becomes generally available, Edge users will get 1GB of free data each month when they sign into the company’s browser using their Microsoft Account.

Instead of creating a VPN on its own, Microsoft Edge Secure Network is a service provided in partnership with the web infrastructure and CDN provider Cloudflare. In its support document, Microsoft points out that “Cloudflare is committed to privacy and only collects a limited amount of diagnostic and support data activating as Microsoft’s data subprocessor in order to provide the services”. This diagnostic and support data is also permanently deleted after it is collected every 25 hours.

Microsoft Edge Secure Network

Just like with a VPN, Microsoft Edge Secure Network encrypts a user’s internet connection to help protect their data from online threats and snooping.

When you use the Microsoft Edge Secure Network, your data is routed from Edge through an encrypted tunnel (or a VPN tunnel) to create a secure connection. This also applies when visiting a non-secure URL that starts with HTTP as opposed to the encrypted HTTPS.

In addition to protecting users against online threats, Edge’s new VPN prevents internet service providers (ISPs) from collecting their browsing data including details about which sites they visit. This also helps prevent advertising firms and other third parties from profiling you and sending you targeted ads.

At this time, it’s still unclear as to whether or not Microsoft Edge Secure Network will allow you to choose which VPN server you connect to which would allow you to bypass geo-blocking. However, in its support document, Microsoft says that the feature “lets you browse with a virtual IP address that masks your IP and replaces your geolocation with a similar regional address” so if accessing content from other countries is what you’re after, you would still be better off with a paid VPN service like ExpressVPN or NordVPN.

All in all, Microsoft Edge Secure Network will provide Edge users with access to a no-fee VPN from a trusted company which can’t be said about many of the other free offerings out there. Once the feature exits preview, Edge users will be able to try it out for themselves from the browser’s context menu in the same way that you access collections or web capture.

Anthony Spadafora

After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.