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Microsoft Edge's 'Secure Network' sounds a lot like a built-in VPN
Only works with signed-in users, but could lure more into using the browser
Microsoft appears to be planning a VPN-like solution for its Edge browser judging by a support page for the upcoming feature.
The change is described as a "preview feature." It has yet to show up on our Canary and Dev versions of Microsoft's browser, however.
The theory is that by using the Microsoft Edge Secure Networking functionality, one will be kept safe from miscreants when joining networks that "may not be adequately secure."
It sounds an awful lot like a VPN to us. The user's connection is encrypted, online tracking (including stopping an ISP from slurping browsing habits) is trickier, and geolocation is obscured via a virtual IP address.
Rivals have long punted VPNs. Mozilla, for example, will happily sell customers a 12-month plan for $4.99 per month while VPN plugins exist for alternative browsers. Microsoft's take, however, appears to be free. Sort of.
A Microsoft Edge sign-in is required, and only 1GB of free data per month is included with the deal, a figure that seems somewhat miserly considering the size of modern web pages and the large amount of streaming that goes on nowadays.
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Cloudflare powers the service, which will permanently delete all diagnostic and support data collected every 25 hours. As for Microsoft: "To provide access, we store minimal support data and access tokens which are only retained for the duration of the required service window."
It appears as though Cloudflare's 126.96.36.199 WARP is behind the promised Microsoft offering. The Register asked the Windows titan for further comment and information. There is no indication when the feature will turn up in the mainstream version of the browser.
It will certainly make securing browsing activities more straightforward for users reluctant to fiddle with VPNs and may even lure users into signing into Edge. The act of doing the latter means that sync will get turned on, indicating that all manner of data will be made available over devices running a signed-in version of Edge.
We asked Microsoft when this feature would become more widely available (particularly since the company's Build event is mere weeks away) and will update this piece should the Windows vendor respond. ®