Microsoft’s forthcoming Windows 11 release will make it harder to switch default browsers. It also ignores default browser settings in new areas of Windows 11. While Microsoft is making many positive changes to the Windows 11 UI, the default apps experience is a step back, and browser competitors like Mozilla, Opera, and Vivaldi are concerned.
Microsoft has made Windows 11 easier to set default apps. Windows 10 also has a prompt when you open a website for the first time. This is the only way to switch browsers. The default browser will remain the same unless you tick “always utilize this app.” It is easy to forget about turning on “always use the app” so you can launch the browser from the prompt, and you will never see the default option again when you click on web links.
You will find it challenging to switch default browsers if you forget to set your default browser on the first launch. Chrome and other browsers may prompt you to set them as default. Windows will then take you to the settings section to enable it.
Microsoft has changed how default apps are assigned in Windows 11. This means that defaults must now be set by file type or link type instead of one switch. Chrome will change the default file type to HTM, HTML, and PDF. SHTML, SVG. WEB. XHTML. FTP, HTTP.
This is a tedious process compared to Windows 10, which allows for quick and easy switching default email, maps, and music, as well as photos, videos, and web browser apps. Firefox, Chrome, and Opera were all tested. Only Firefox could set defaults without directing users to the default apps section in Windows 11. Competitors are not appreciating Microsoft’s Windows 11 changes.
Selena Deckelmann (senior vice president of Firefox) stated that “we have been increasingly concerned about the trend on Windows.” She made this statement to The Verge. “Since Windows 10, users had to take extra and unnecessary steps to set and maintain their default browser settings. These restrictions are confusing and appear to be designed to make it difficult for users to choose a non-Microsoft web browser.
Mozilla isn’t alone in its concerns, which it has been highlighting for years. Vivaldi spokesperson said that Microsoft has a history of doing this and seems to be getting worse. “It is becoming harder to change defaults with every Windows version.” They know that locking people in is the only way to get them to use their browsers.
Opera, another competitor to Microsoft Edge, also doesn’t like Microsoft’s Windows 11 default apps changes. Krystian Kolondra is Opera’s head browser. He stated that it was disappointing when platform vendors obscure an everyday use case to increase the product’s standing. “We encourage platform vendors to allow users to choose their platform and to accept competition. It is a mistake to take away the user’s choice.
This from the company that claims to be the most open, with "the most choice." I hope this is just a developer preview thing, and the shipping version of Windows 11 lives up to their claims. This is far from "choice." https://t.co/vkGQAoHZgE— Hiroshi Lockheimer (@lockheimer) August 18, 2021
We reached out to Google to provide feedback on Microsoft’s Edge changes, but they did not respond to our request in time. Although Google did not respond directly to The Verge, Hiroshi Bruckheimer, the head of Android, Chrome, and Chrome OS, did respond on Twitter to the changes.
Lockheimer said, “This is from the company that claims the most open, with the most choice’.” “I hope that this is a developer preview and that the shipping version Windows 11 lives up to their claims. This is far from a ‘choice.
Windows 11 browsers are not only affected by default app choices. Microsoft has been ignoring default browser choices in its search experience in Windows 10. The company introduced a taskbar widget that also ignored a default browser and forced users into Edge.
Windows 11 continues to follow this trend. Search still forces users into Edge, and there is now a dedicated widgets area that also ignores the default browser setting. A brave spokesperson said that Windows 11 widgets would ignore the default browser setting and instead open Microsoft Edge. Brave values users and condemns the Windows 11 approach. The choice of default browser can have many consequences for privacy and individuals. Users should have the freedom to choose.
It’s not clear yet whether Windows 11 will also continue Microsoft’s trend of forcing Edge onto people through Windows Updates, with regular prompts to switch. This seems unnecessary as Edge, which is Chromium-based, is a beautiful browser that most people won’t use or want to change. Microsoft would not be pleased if Google and Apple ignored browser defaults for iOS or Android. This is why this flagrant disregard is worrying.
Microsoft claims these changes will allow Windows users more control over default apps. In a statement to the Verge, a Microsoft spokesperson stated that Windows 11 would implement customer feedback to control defaults at a more granular scale. This includes eliminating app categories and elevating every app to the forefront in the defaults experience. As you can see, we are constantly learning and listening to our customers. We welcome any feedback that will help shape Windows. Windows 11 will evolve. If we know from our users that there are improvements we can make, we will.
Windows 11 will be available in a few days, and the competitors are clear that these changes are not welcome. But is Microsoft listening? We’ll find out in a couple of months.