Microsoft to block crapware downloads in its Edge browser

Microsoft Edge has a new crapware blocker, but it isn’t enabled by default. It’s currently available in the beta version of Edge,  but should arrive for everyone using the Chromium-based Edge browser with the stable release of Edge 80 .

Potentially Unwanted Apps” Are Crapware

This browser feature blocks “potentially unwanted apps,” which are also known as “potentially unwanted programs.” PUPs include obnoxious features like adware, trackers, browser toolbars, cryptocurrency miners, and other junk you almost certainly don’t want on your PC. PUPs have been called “malware with a legal team.” You give permission to install this junk when you click through the license agreement, so it’s not technically malware.

Microsoft won’t be blocking crapware downloads by default in Microsoft Edge, so you have to know it exists and head into Settings to find it. There’s a quick toggle that will force Edge to block this junk. It works similarly to the hidden option that makes Windows Defender block crapware on your desktop.

Edge, Chrome, Firefox, and other browsers already block potentially dangerous downloads, but this option makes Edge go even farther and block some junkware it would normally allow.

What is a Potentially Unwanted Program, or PUP?

These are programs which don’t really do anything good for you. For example, browser toolbars that clutter your browser, track your web browsing, and show additional advertisements to you are “potentially unwanted programs.” A Bitcoin-mining program like the one uTorrent once included is a “potentially unwanted program.”

What Do PUPs Do, Exactly?

So what does it take for a program to be considered a PUP? Well, Malwarebytes offers a list of behaviors that will cause Malwarebytes to flag a software program as a PUP. Advertising that obstructs content or interferes with web browsing, pop-up windows, pop-under windows, search engine hijacking, home page hijacking, toolbars with no value for the user, redirecting competitors’ websites, altering search results, replacing ads on web pages — these are all actions that will cause a program to be flagged as a PUP.

How to Enable Microsoft Edge’s New Crapware Blocker

  1. To enable the crapware blocker in the new Microsoft Edge, click menu > Settings.
  2. Click the “Privacy and services” option in the left pane..
  3. Scroll down to the bottom of the list here. Under Services, enable the “Block potentially unwanted apps” option.
  4. (If you don’t see this option, you haven’t upgraded to Microsoft Edge 80 yet. To see which version of the new Microsoft Edge you have, click menu > Help & feedback > About Microsoft Edge.)
  5. You can now close the Settings page. Microsoft Edge will be more aggressive about blocking downloads that contain potentially obnoxious software.