Microsoft Reverses Course on Windows 11 Default Browser Settings

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After a spat of questionable decisions recently by Microsoft regarding its Edge browser, Microsoft has finally done something we can all agree is the right thing to do: it’s reversing the changes it made to the default browser settings in Windows 11 to make the process easier instead of more difficult. Imagine that.

In a new test build of Windows 11, users can now change their default browser, along with all associated file extensions, with a single click. The change in OS options was flagged by Rafael Rivera, and spotted by The Verge. Previously Microsoft allowed you to switch browsers the very first time you fired up Chrome, Firefox, or some other competitor with a prompt asking you if you were sure you wanted to do what you were doing, but if you didn’t click “always use this app” it wouldn’t change all the various file types to your new browser. This required you to manually change the associated browser for each extension, such as .HTML, .HTTP, etc. Microsoft defended this ridiculous situation by claiming its users wanted “granular control” over browser settings.

Behold, a single toggle for your default browser selection. (Image: Rafael Rivera on Twitter)

The news follows a string of boneheaded moves by the Redmond-based behemoth as it tries to coerce users both towards its Edge browser, and away from rivals such as Google’s dominant Chrome browser. At first it made switching your default browser from Edge more difficult, as noted above, and then recently it began throwing pop-ups on the screen if you searched for Google Chrome in the Edge browser that were vaguely insulting. Daring to type “the browser that shall not be named” could result in a system dialogue box from Edge stating, “That browser is so 2008! Do you know what’s new? Microsoft Edge.”  

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the company also announced plans to add a “buy now, pay later” loan option to Edge, despite the fact that it seemingly wants people to enjoy using its browser instead of being repulsed by it. It also apparently enabled data Sync on Edge over networks without any user input recently, as we noted. It even went so far as to disable software that allowed links in the start menu to be redirected to a different browser than Edge.

All that said, there are signs that Microsoft is listening to the feedback it’s getting from its customers. The browser settings changes detailed here are quite welcome, but since this is a feature that is appearing in an Insider build, there’s no telling when, or even if, it will arrive to the build regular customers are using right now. Also, Microsoft has been testing improvements to both the Windows 11 taskbar and start menu based on customer feedback as well, so not all hope is lost.

Microsoft has announced both Windows 10 and 11 will only be receiving one major update per year, so it’s possible these new browser settings will be included in that, which is good news. The bad news is there’s no time table for when that update will arrive, but given the timing it’s not unreasonable to expect it sometime in 2022.

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