With the Secure Network function, Microsoft will provide its Edge browser with a real integrated VPN. Practical for hiding your IP address on the Internet, this tool is however limited to 1 GB of data per month at first.
This time it’s official: Microsoft will integrate a VPN into Edge, its next-generation web browser, which comes standard with Windows 11 and 10, but is also available for other versions and even for macOS, Android and iOS. The information had been circulating for some time, but the publisher confirmed it in a post published on May 12, 2022 on its technical community site to accompany the launch of this tool in a test preview released via the Canary channel, at the attention of a small group of guinea pig (volunteer) users, the idea being, as always, to gather opinions before a wider deployment. For the time being, Microsoft does not give any date concerning a definitive integration of this VPN in the standard edition of Edge. But we can reasonably assume that it is a matter of weeks or months and that the web browser will soon be systematically equipped with this new function.
Called Secure Network, Microsoft’s VPN establishes a “private” connection to the Internet by passing through a relay server and encrypting the data in transit – this is the principle of the VPN (Virtual Private Network in English, or virtual private network in French). By using a VPN, the user can hide his real IP address (which is replaced by that of the relay server) and therefore his precise location, while protecting the information that circulates (visited sites, identifiers, etc.) from prying eyes. . It is a practical tool for surfing in a more “anonymous” way on the Internet, in particular from public places, with open networks (stations, airports, trains, bars, media libraries, etc.) but also for circumventing the geographical limitations put in place. place by certain services, in particular video streaming (Netflix, Disney+ and others) in order to take advantage of theoretically inaccessible content. Finally, a VPN prevents Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from knowing precisely the activities of their users while limiting the tracking of websites, which do not hesitate to track their visitors, generally to deliver targeted advertising. So many reasons which, combined with the concern over hacking and theft of confidential data, explain the craze for VPNs that have been flourishing on the market for the past few years.
Secure Network: an integrated but limited VPN
However, Microsoft’s solution is not strictly equivalent to commercial VPNs. On the one hand, it is limited to Edge, and therefore to what is done through the browser. On the other, it relies on a set of secure relay servers from Cloudflare – an American company specializing in networks and the Internet – which has the particularity of only offering “virtual” IP addresses near the IP address true. Advantage, we keep the location functions used by default by the browser for the services, during searches in particular. Disadvantage, you cannot position yourself in a country on the other side of the world to thwart the restrictions… Finally, Secure Network requires you to go through a Microsoft account, which will probably not be to everyone’s taste, to obvious privacy reasons even if the publisher promises that the connection is only used to authenticate with the service.
Above all, several questions remain, for lack of clear explanations from Microsoft. Thus, it is unclear whether Secure Network will be offered for free or with a paid subscription, as other VPN providers do. Because operating a network of servers and VPN services involves a significant cost, both in terms of investment and maintenance. Is a free model supported by (targeted) advertising possible? Probably not. Especially since Microsoft is already used to managing paid solutions, such as Microsfot 365, its office suite offered as a subscription. Still, for now, the test version is limited to 1 GB of data traffic per month: enough to surf the Web, make payments and check emails, but certainly not for watching videos. streaming or for downloading large files.