Windows 11 to Restrict Edge Customization on Unactivated Copies Soon

In context: Since the days of Windows XP, activation has been a notable aspect of the Windows user experience, evolving into a simpler process with Windows 10 and 11. Currently, users with a non-activated version of these operating systems face restrictions on system customization. Similar constraints could be extended to the Edge browser soon.

Historically, to fully utilize a Windows system, activation after purchase is mandatory. This activation process allows Microsoft to verify the authenticity of a Windows installation and ensure compliance with the license’s terms regarding the number of installations.

While most Windows functionality remains accessible without activation, customization capabilities are restricted. The settings panel will display a persistent “Windows is not activated” reminder, complicating things for users without a valid license. Activating Windows 10 or 11, however, remains feasible with specific (unofficial) tools, although that’s another discussion entirely.

In April, testers of early-release versions of Windows’ native browser, Edge, discovered a noteworthy feature. Canary builds of Microsoft Edge introduced a potential restriction via the “msEdgeLockSettingsInNonActivatedOS” command, with initial uncertainty about its implications for non-activated systems.

This feature has since been affirmed, with indications that Microsoft is assessing its viability via the Edge Canary channel. A subsequent release of the browser might block specific customization settings for users on a non-activated Windows system, marking this status prominently on the settings menu.

However, the loss of some customization features in Edge is unlikely to deter the most steadfast non-paying users. Microsoft Edge boasts only a fraction of Windows users, as per recent StatCounter figures, and alternate browsers like Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox maintain full functionality on unofficial versions of Windows.

Recalling the era of Windows XP, Microsoft’s activation scheme, then termed “Microsoft Product Activation,” introduced stringent DRM measures aimed at curtailing software piracy.

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