Microsoft will soon launch a free virtual private network (VPN) to its Edge internet browser, according to a support page detailing the upcoming service. This comes through a partnership the tech empire has with Cloudflare.
The service will be known as Microsoft Edge Secure Network with the company saying that the service will offer all the usual benefits users expect from a VPN, such as connection encryption, location masking, and protection from online tracking.
“Microsoft Edge helps keep you safe online. However, the networks you join may not be adequately secure. Microsoft Edge Secure Network can help you protect your device and sensitive data as you browse,” the company writes.
What we know about Microsoft Edge Secure Network:
- It will allow users to encrypt their connections
Microsoft says the secure network will act as other VPNs and encrypt your internet connection while you are using the Edge browser. This will ensure privacy and protect your data from online threat actors.
This works by routing your data from Edge through an encrypted tunnel to create a secure connection, even if you are using a non-secure URL that begins with HTTP. Microsoft says that this will make it even more difficult for hackers to gain access to your browsing data on shared public Wi-Fi networks.
- It will help prevent online tracking
Microsoft says that by encrypting your web traffic through Edge Secure Network directly from Microsoft Edge, internet service providers and other online trackers will be prevented from collecting and accessing your browsing data, such as the names of the websites you visit.
- It will allow users to keep their locations private
Using the VPN via the Edge browser will protect you from online companies using your location and IP address to sell your information or send you targeted ads.
Microsoft says Edge Secure Network will do this by masking your IP address and replacing your geolocation with a similar regional address making it vastly more difficult to be tracked while browsing.
- It is free to use – but there’s a catch
Microsoft Edge Secure Network will give you 1 free gigabyte of data a month to use when you sign into Edge with your Microsoft Account. This means that users won’t be able to stream very much through Edge Secure Network (a regular benefit to using VPNs means users can stream different shows or watch digital programming unavailable in their regions).
However, the 1 gb of data can be used to keep certain online sessions private or perhaps it is more of a taster that Microsoft wants users to get accustomed to the service and then subscribe to a paid version of Edge Secure Network.
There is currently no news on whether or not a subscription version of the service is planned, but if the service becomes popular enough there will surely be one on the way.
- The service isn’t available yet and no release date has been announced yet
No release dates for Edge Secure Network have been announced, but the support page notes that the service will roll out to Edge Insiders first in a beta phase.
- It may not be the best solution for people who require vast amounts of encrypted data or true online anonymity
Edge Secure Network is being provided by Microsoft through a partnership with Cloudflare. Cloudflare says it only “collects a limited amount of diagnostic and support data” and says that after 25 hours this data is permanently deleted.
Users will also have to sign into the Edge browser to access the service. These two points may put advanced users off the service, in which case other paid VPN services will probably be better.