Microsoft Edge can now block potentially unwanted applications (PUAs) such as adware from being downloaded when you're trying to grab free software, and the company has provided some extra info on how it works.
PUAs are a common problem: you're trying to download a free photo editor or free video editor, and next thing you know, your browser's homepage has been hijacked, your default search engine has been changed, and there are weird shopping icons on your desktop.
Microsoft is aiming to put a stop to such unwelcome surprises by blocking any applications that "create extra advertisements, applications that mine cryptocurrency, applications that show offers for other software and applications that the [antivirus] industry considers having a poor reputation".
- Check our our full list of the best browsers
- The best open source software is safe to download
- Keep your PC safe with the best antivirus software
The new feature is turned off by default, but you can enable it by opening the browser's main menu and selecting 'Settings' followed by 'Privacy and services'. Scroll down to the bottom and click the switch marked 'Block potentially unwanted apps'. The option is available in all releases from 80.0.338.0 onward.
What's on the blacklist
Microsoft's definition of PUAs includes some common annoyances, such as adware, cryptocurrency miners, and anything that tries to install apps from a different company on your device. None of these are technically viruses, but they are likely to slow down your PC, or leave you feeling frustrated.
It does, however, also include torrent software, so if you're actively trying to install or use a torrent client to grab or share some particularly large files, you'll need to switch it off until you're done.
You can also choose to download any software that's blocked by clicking the menu button on the warning notification that appears, and selecting 'Keep'.
It's a very handy feature to have if you're a fan of free software and are tired of receiving unpleasant surprises, but we're glad to see that Microsoft has chosen to put users fully in control by providing easy ways to bypass it, if they wish.
- Check out our full Microsoft Edge review