Unactivated Windows 11 systems could soon block access to Microsoft Edge settings

Martin Brinkmann
May 8, 2024
Updated • May 8, 2024
Windows 11 News

Microsoft is testing new activation related restrictions on Windows 11 currently that affect the system's integrated Microsoft Edge browser.

Windows 11 can be installed without a product key. This leaves the operating system in an unactivated state. While the system works fine for the most part, it does display reminders and a watermark, and does prevent access to certain personalization options, such as setting wallpapers (there is a way around that).

Windows 11 works fine in most areas. You can install programs, use the Microsoft Store, update the operating system, or make administrative changes.

Soon, Microsoft may block access to some Microsoft Edge settings however.

Microsoft Edge Settings blocked

Discovered by our colleagues over at Windows Latest, and verified by us, Microsoft is testing several activation related flags in recent Edge Canary builds. These lock access to settings and may display notifications that Windows 11 is not activated.

The easiest way to test this is to install Windows 11 without providing a product key in a virtual machine. The system is not activated in this case, unless you sign-in with a Microsoft account that has a linked digital Windows-key associated with it.

Once enabled, Edge displays the following message in Settings on systems that are not activated: "We notice your Windows is not activated, some customization has been limited".

This notice is shown on every page of the Settings. Not many settings are blocked at the time of writing. The "When Edge starts" preference is inaccessible, which means that you can't change anymore how Edge opens.

In other words, it is not possible to switch from Edge's new tab page to another start page or resting the previous session.

The test is a work in progress. It is possible that Microsoft is going to add more restrictions to the settings of the browser in future updates.

Why is Microsoft testing the change?

There is no official statement from Microsoft about the change or the motivation behind it. While it may impact consumers, the likelier target seems to be organizations.

After all, it takes just a few seconds to install another browser on Windows 11:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Type cmd and press the Enter-key.
  3. Type winget install Mozilla Firefox and press the Enter-key again.

You can replace Mozilla Firefox with the name of another browser, e.g.,  Google Chrome, Brave, Vivaldi, or Opera.

For organizations, implications may be more severe. Employees may be required to use Edge. When they see the activation message, they might ask their coworkers or superiors about it, or, in case of disgruntled employees, report the incident.

Closing Words

It remains to be seen if Microsoft implements the change in Microsoft Edge stable. If it does, it might even drive some home users to using a different browser.

What is your take on the feature? 

Article Name
Not activated Windows 11 systems could soon block access to Microsoft Edge settings
Microsoft is testing new activation related restrictions on Windows 11 currently that affect the system's integrated Microsoft Edge browser.
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  1. guest12 said on May 18, 2024 at 11:56 pm

    great because egde SUCKS

  2. Allen BJ said on May 15, 2024 at 3:46 pm

    Hooray !!! Best news all this year. Cheers MicroShite

  3. Ally said on May 13, 2024 at 3:59 pm

    Hooray !!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. upp said on May 11, 2024 at 7:47 pm

    More paywalls, but who gives a fuck about W11, it’s piece of shit.

  5. putyourpatentinthehat andpassitaround said on May 11, 2024 at 6:12 pm

    > Unactivated Windows 11 systems could soon block access to Microsoft Edge settings

    Well it’s a good thing I run ACTIVATED DEBIAN MACHINES.

  6. Lizard said on May 10, 2024 at 12:20 am

    They are doing this because they will release Windows 12 and it most likely be Subscription only. So, if you don’t pay you won’t be able to change much of the default settings. This is the future of Windows. Subscribe or you be watching ads on that shiny Windows 12. Mark my words.

    1. samurai cat said on May 10, 2024 at 7:35 am

      Perhaps they will call it Windows 365 instead of Windows 12.

  7. Allwynd said on May 9, 2024 at 12:21 pm

    If my CPU was older than it is i5 8400, I would have installed Windows 7. But these snakes have made it impossible to install old Windows versions.

    Linux Mint became easier for me after about 2 months. Now I only play Turtle WoW and watch TV series and anime on it. Nothing I was unable to do. With some effort, I can make almost all my Steam games to run through Proton, except I barely play anything these days beyond Turtle WoW, Heroes of Might and Magic 3, Age of Empires 2 and Star Wars Battlefront 2004.

    I found alternatives to programs for Linux and the ones that don’t have alternatives, work theough Wine and Proton.

    So far it’s going better than I hoped. Now I’m starting the 3rd month of Linux.

  8. samurai cat said on May 9, 2024 at 7:03 am

    Here’s to Edge market share dropping from 5.25% to 1.25% soon. ?

  9. Richard Steven Hack said on May 9, 2024 at 6:02 am

    Of course, the impact this has on home labs where people install W11 in a VM for testing purposes that requires the ability to manipulate Edge settings or where people are testing Web app effects in all browsers in the same way goes right unnoticed by Microsoft which is trying to increase revenue to pay for all the AI crap.

    This what you get when corporations decide it’s “their way or the highway.” Which always happens because humans are incapable of NOT trying to dominate each other. It’s genetically wired in.

    1. plusminus_ said on May 9, 2024 at 8:41 pm

      There’s always massgravel…

  10. Allwynd said on May 8, 2024 at 8:31 pm

    I miss XP and 7, there weren’t things like this back then. It wasn’t so bundled with bloatware. Windows still wasn’t a malware and spyware virus.

    The freedom to customize it and install custom themes by patching uxtheme.dll was big, now you can’t do any of this. You can patch uxtheme.dll on 10 or 11 and all you can change is the title bars… and only some title bars, those of Win32 programs.

    Now it’s full of spyware and malware – you uninstall something or change a setting, later on, the program auto reinstalls and the settings changes back.

    That’s why I finally made the jump to Linux and while I can’t run certain games, I am surprised how little I care about this predicament of mine. I don’t have to stare at Windows’ ugliness since Windows 8, I don’t have to play cat-and-mouse with it about how I want to use my computer.

    Windows will only get worse – now it’s bloated by that marketing AI garbage, then they will be developing AI CPUs, the stupidity is becoming infinite. AI is a stupid thing to begin with and only idiots are happy about it, because they are too ignorant and stupid to realize how dangerous and scary it is. I’m not talking about Matrix or Terminator, I’m talking about people becoming even more stupid and dependent on these things. People are too stupid, because they want all the conveniences to the point where they can’t wipe their asses on their own anymore without AI or some other outside assistance.

    1. bruh said on May 9, 2024 at 10:21 am

      I agree with a lot of what you said, however I’m still using W7 and can’t make the switch to Linux, too different for me, plus whichever distro you get, it’s worse in the looks department than Windows 7. The Windows 7 themes that look good only work with old versions of Linux, figures.

      I use a bunch of older software as well as windows only software, life is pretty easy at the moment. I have programs to add functionality to the start menu, to file explorer, autohotkey shortcuts as well as registry strings for batch file operations. Also dread the idea of only having VLC media player, as functional as it is, it’s not exactly a premium player.

  11. TimH said on May 8, 2024 at 4:19 pm

    Make a Windows 11 Pro install ISO with cruft removed from ISO first by tiny11builder (https://github.com/ntdevlabs/tiny11builder).
    Burn ISO with Rufus (https://rufus.ie/en/) to remove OOBE etc.
    Disable TPM, secure boot, hibernate in the BIOS before install.
    This installs as local account. Remember to use no password (return) to avoid the 3 recovery questions, and *don’t connect to the internet during install*.
    Now run O&O ShutUp10++ to remove spy stuff that’s not useful to you (https://www.oo-software.com/en/shutup10)
    Now run O&O App Buster to remove Windows Apps you don’t want (https://www.oo-software.com/en/ooappbuster)
    Change sleep mode from Modern Standby (S0) to S3 Standby so that the computer really is in standby not just pretending
    Disable Fast Startup. With fast startup enabled, computer in sleep mode will wake up when network does a search (WOL).
    Now connect to the internet and let it update.

  12. John said on May 8, 2024 at 3:04 pm

    That would be a darn shame to not be able to adjust Edge settings. Microsoft should be glad you want to install Windows 11 at all.

  13. bruh said on May 8, 2024 at 3:00 pm

    Oh well, who uses Edge anyway?

  14. Anonymous said on May 8, 2024 at 2:07 pm

    Typical Microsoft action. They shoot themselves in the foot. Thanks for the article, Martin. I don’t use Edge now. I have banished it from my system.

  15. Nosedive said on May 8, 2024 at 1:33 pm

    Where do they get these ridiculous ideas from? I wish they could think of the features that were left out and neglected to include back into Windows 11 after combining their horrible 10X UI into Windows 10 and releasing 11 half baked and unfinished.

    Why are there still so few customization options in the taskbar and start menu? Why is this new menu that appears when you right-click still such a useless piece of junk?

  16. Caper said on May 8, 2024 at 1:01 pm

    My take on the future is the same as in the past – not using or even opening Edge at all. In future times Edge will be the first prog getting uninstalled for good thanks to one of the few good decisions made by EU gov.

  17. John G. said on May 8, 2024 at 11:06 am

    I still don’t know if it’s some kind of good news or bad news. Probably good ones. Thanks for the article!

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