Microsoft’s all-new operating system, Windows 11, is officially scheduled to roll out starting from October 5, 2021. With Windows 11’s Insider Preview and leaked version, many users have already got their hands on the upcoming OS. However, like most Microsoft’s products, Windows 11 too is not controversy-free. While testing the OS through Insider Program, insider testers reported many issues, and one of the major ones is the new method of changing the default web browser. This has introduced a fresh debate and brought Microsoft under the scanner once again.
What is all Fuss about?
After introducing the all-new chromium-based Edge browser, Microsoft leaves no stones unturned to make Windows OS users use it. However, with Windows 11, Microsoft has taken this obsession of forcing Edge browser to the next level, making the rivals Google Chrome, Mozilla, Firefox, Brave, and others furious.
On Windows 10, switching the default browser is not that difficult and could be done quickly from the settings by navigating to Settings -> Apps -> Default apps.
However, on Windows 11, the only way to avoid changing the default browser separately for each files types is by selecting the “Always use this app” prompt checkbox when you first install a new web browser and open a link.
The problem is, it is pretty common to miss out on such prompts (as happened with me) as usually, nobody bothers about it when they urgently want to open a web link.
If you miss out on clicking the “Always use this app” checkbox, the method to change it again requires additional steps. Microsoft is making it pretty tiresome to change the default web browser as now users would have to choose the default apps based on the file type. It means that you would have option to choose a different web browser to open HTM, HTML, PDF, SHTML, SVG, WEBP, XHT, XHTML, FTP, HTTP, and HTTPS file types.
To change the default web browser for opening these file types on your Windows 11, you have to navigate to Settings -> Apps and click on Default apps on the right pane.
Now, here is the trick. You now have to select an application that you want to set default. For example, I have chosen Mozilla Firefox.
If you scroll down, you will also get the option to choose default apps using file type and link type. However, these methods are even more tedious.
When you click on Firefox, you will see the options listed to set Firefox as the default application to open the different file types.
And this is not it. When you try to set Firefox as default for any file type, Windows 11 will again prompt you to try Microsoft Edge before switching to any other browser.
What do Competitors have to say?
Evidently, Edge’s competitors like Chrome, Firefox, Brave, Vivaldi, and others have been displeased with this new development.
Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google’s head of Android, Chrome, and Chrome OS, seems furious and quoted on a Tweet by The Verge taunting Microsoft that “This from the company that claims to be the most open, with ‘the most choice.’” He further says that hopefully, this controversial method is just the developer preview thing as it is far from “providing a choice”.
Speaking to The Verge, the senior vice president of Firefox, Selena Deckelmann, said that “We have been increasingly worried about the trend on Windows. Since Windows 10, users have had to take additional and unnecessary steps to set and retain their default browser settings. These barriers are confusing at best and seem designed to undermine a user’s choice for a non-Microsoft browser.”
The spokespersons of other web browsers like Opera, Vivaldi, and Brave echo similar concerns.
What Microsoft has to say about it?
Microsoft is justifying this new development by pointing out that they are actually providing more control to Windows users to choose default applications.
According to a statement released by a Microsoft spokesperson to The Verge, these new changes are implemented after user feedback. “With Windows 11, we are implementing customer feedback to customize and control defaults at a more granular level, eliminating app categories and elevating all apps to the forefront of the defaults experience,” says the Microsoft spokesperson to The Verge.
Is there any end to the controversy?
As of now, there is no end to the controversy as everybody is still waiting for the official release of Windows 11, which is coming soon. However, if we consider previous such introductions, it is doubtful that Microsoft will make amendments to this new development in the final version of the operating system.
It is not the first time that Microsoft has forced Edge upon Windows OS users. Whenever you try to use any other browser on Windows 10, Microsoft prompts you to switch to Edge for a secure browsing experience.
Similarly, in March 2021, Microsoft added a new Widget tool in Windows 10 taskbar, which shows the temperature, latest news, and more. If you click any of the links in the widget, you will be redirected to it through Microsoft’s Edge browser only. There is no option to configure this setting until now.
So, it is expected that Microsoft will continue to use its operating system platform to force users into using the Edge Browser.
Peter is an Electrical Engineer whose primary interest is tinkering with his computer. He is passionate about Windows 10 Platform and enjoys writing tips and tutorials about it.