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Microsoft Secure Network is now available as a limited preview in Edge Canary
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Quote:We reported about Microsoft Secure Network a few weeks ago, when it was spotted on the company's support website. The free VPN has officially entered a limited access preview in Edge Canary.

[Image: Microsoft-Secure-Network-is-now-availabl...Canary.png]

Microsoft announced the news on its Edge Insider blog, and highlighted its importance.

What is Microsoft Secure Network?

According to Microsoft, the VPN is meant to protect the privacy of users when they connect to public Wi-Fi networks, aka hotspots, that are available at airports, libraries, hotels, coffee shops, etc. Secure Network is powered by Cloudflare, and encrypts the network connection in order to mask the device's IP address and location, to prevent your ISP from snooping on your internet habits and profiling you to deliver targeted ads, and to stop malicious attacks.

Microsoft says that users who access the Secure Network during the Preview phase will be able to use 1GB of bandwidth for free, and the limit gets reset every month. It is possible that the feature could be announced as a premium service in the future.

How to enable Microsoft Secure Network?

Open Edge Dev Canary, and click on the three-dot menu button. The Secure Network entry should appear below the "Read Aloud" item in the menu. The feature is being A/B tested, so don't be surprised if you don't have the Secure Network option available in Edge Canary. The current version of the browser is 103.0.1255.0.

You should be aware that using the feature requires you to sign in to your Microsoft account to authenticate the service, and you'll also need to accept Cloudflare's privacy policy. As Martin mentioned in his article, Cloudflare will store "limited diagnostic data" on its servers for 25 hours before deleting them.

People normally use a VPN for hiding their real IP address and location, sure Microsoft Secure Network can do that. But that's not the only thing that a VPN should do, right?

What Microsoft Secure Network cannot do

Many users rely on VPNs to bypass restrictions imposed by their ISP or Government, to access content that is otherwise unavailable in their Country. Microsoft's Secure Network connects to local Cloudflare servers, i.e. the servers are located in the same region as the user. That means you cannot circumvent geo-restrictions enforced by websites and services, or other forms of censorship in your area, to access blocked content. e.g. If Spotify or Netflix is not available in your Country, you can't access it with Microsoft's VPN.

Microsoft's tone is clear, it clearly says that Secure Network is for allowing access to local services without compromising your privacy. It kind of makes sense, but there are better alternatives out there. I see it as more of a user-friendly way to protect users, without the need for an extension or a standalone program, that you may have to configure manually. So, this could be useful for the average user.

The 1GB data limit set by Secure Network is probably not going to be enough for streaming videos, you could burn through it pretty quickly. But, you can't really expect much from free VPN services. As far as I know, ProtonVPN is the only provider that offers free unlimited usage across platforms, albeit with limited servers, but that is a really difficult deal to beat.

What do you think about Microsoft Secure Network?
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