Microsoft is adding a free built-in virtual private network (VPN) service to its Edge browser in an effort to improve security and privacy, a Microsoft support page revealed.
Called the “Edge Secure Network,” Microsoft is currently testing the Cloudflare-powered VPN service and says it will roll it out to the public as part of a security upgrade.
Once turned on, the Edge Secure Network should encrypt users’ web traffic so that ISPs can not collect browsing information that you would rather keep private, such as health-related searches or just bizarre queries.
The new feature will also allow users to hide their location by enabling them to surf the web using a virtual IP address. It also means that users can access content that is blocked in their countries, such as Netflix or Hulu shows.
However, there is a catch to this free service. Data usage is limited to 1 GB per month, and users must log in to a Microsoft account so that the company can ironically track their usage.
Microsoft adds that although Cloudflare will collect support and diagnostic information from the service, the company will permanently get rid of this data every 25 hours.
Although the feature is still under development and not yet available for early testing, Microsoft described how users could try a preview. It suggests that it may soon roll out to one of the Microsoft Edge Insider channels first, which users can download and join here.
When it does, you can try the preview version by opening Edge, on the way to Settings and more, and click Secure network.
At that point, users will be asked to sign in or create a Microsoft account. After doing so, a solid shield icon appears in the browser frame, indicating that the Microsoft Edge Secure Network is now turned on. It turns off when the user closes the browser.
Microsoft is one of many browsers that offer some kind of VPN service. Opera also comes with a free but more popular browser like Mozilla only offers a paid VPN service, just like Google Chrome does, which could potentially help improve Edge’s value proposition.