Windows 11 will make it Hard to Change Default Web Browser

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.

  Windows 11 Tips and Tricks

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.

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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.

choose default browser on Windows 10

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.

always use this app Windows 11

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.

change default app for opening files

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.

choose default app

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. 

change default apps using other methods

When you click on Firefox, you will see the options listed to set Firefox as the default application to open the different file types.

change default to Firefox

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.

before you switch

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.

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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.

  Isn't Edge as secure as Chrome?

2 thoughts on “Windows 11 will make it Hard to Change Default Web Browser”

  1. Here we go again. Has Microsoft learned from the last time they tried a tactic similar to this? What I’m referring to here is their silent integration of their Internet Explorer 3 into Windows 95 provided by a Windows Update which caused allot of backlash, controversy and ultimately lawsuits by their own customers who was forced to use IE3 only once it was installed instead of their own internet browsers provided by their ISP’s; we all know the story of how all ended: on a judge’s order, Microsoft had absolutely no choice but to separate their company into two entities: one would continue building Windows, Microsoft Office, etc… while the other would continue building their hardware such as mice and keyboard.

    This appears to be a never ending trend with Microsoft trying to force their own software, mainly their internet browsers, onto their consumers. If this trend continues, then I don’t want anything to do with Windows 11 and I’ll switch to a Linux destro once Windows 10’s service end date comes to pass.

    That’s my takeaway on this whole ordeal!

  2. Another thing that Win11 will force on people is that you HAVE to have a Microshaft er ..soft account to even get it to boot the first time. So good luck resetting the OS
    to a “Fresh” install for perhaps a new or different user.


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