Unsurprisingly, Microsoft is making it very difficult to change the default browser settings in Windows 11.

Windows 11 has a ton of changes, a lot of them good. However, Microsoft also changed the way the operating system handles default applications. The new system is much more confusing than before and will contribute to platform lockdown by making it difficult for less tech-savvy users to change defaults.

The new default application settings in Windows 11 force users to set a default application based on file type. For example, if you want to open ‘.docx’ files in Word, select that file type and set Word as the default application. However, the problem with applications such as web browsers that can open various types of files and links is that you have to change the default to each file type you want to open.

This is incredibly tedious to do and unnecessarily complex for most users. Worse still, it’s probably pretty daunting for people who may not be tech-savvy. For example, if I want to set Firefox as my default browser, I have to change the settings for HTM, HTML, PDF, SHTML, SVG, HTTP, HTTPS and WEBP files, and those are not even all the file types listed in the list default. application menu.

Any files for which you do not change the default will automatically open in whatever has been set before. In most cases, that’s Microsoft’s Edge browser.

Windows 11 offers a prompt to easily set your default browser

The edge notes that the first time you install a new browser and click a link, Windows 11 displays a message asking if you want to change the default. The message seems identical to how Windows 10 currently handles the default browsers. The advantage is that the message allows users to bypass the confusing menu of default applications and configure a default browser with one click. The downside is that the message only appears once, and if users don’t check the ‘Always use this app’ box before hitting OK, the message doesn’t save the default settings.

Also, in my testing, browsers that have a built-in option to set it as the default offer an alternative and easier way to change the default setting. Clicking the ‘Set as default’ button in Firefox settings, for example, sets the browser as the default option for most of the file types listed in the Windows 11 default apps settings menu.

Unfortunately, it does not change all file types to open in Firefox, nor does it fully solve problems with the behavior of the default applications, which are more confusing.

Microsoft says the new system gives users more granular control

“With Windows 11, we are implementing customer feedback to customize and control defaults at a more granular level, eliminating application categories and bringing all applications to the forefront of the defaults experience,” said a Microsoft spokesperson. . The edge. The spokesperson also reiterated that Microsoft was “constantly listening and learning” and would welcome feedback from users.

And while the new system offers more granular control, it is worth noting that the same level of control was available in Windows 10. Users could choose to set default values ​​by file type if they preferred. In other words, Microsoft effectively replaced the simple and accessible default app selection in Windows 11 with a much more confusing option, then called it an improvement for users.

Although I called Windows 10’s default app launcher ‘accessible’, it’s worth noting that it’s accessible only compared to Windows 11. Microsoft filled Windows 10 with sneaky and frustrating ways to keep Edge as the default browser. For example, when you try to change the default in Windows 10, it annoys you with pop-ups asking if you are sure and he keeps scolding you after the change. There have also been incidents where Microsoft reset the default browser after an update. Also, when Microsoft released its new Chromium-based Edge browser, it added more pop-ups to try and get people to use it.

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Windows 11 expands tactics that force people to use Edge

Windows 11, of course, expands on these tactics as well. Microsoft added features throughout the operating system that bypass the choice of the default browser and push users to the Edge browser. For example, search still puts people on Edge and sleek new Windows 11 widgets force users to go into Edge.

Perhaps most frustrating to me is that Microsoft’s Chromium-based Edge browser isn’t even that bad, but these aggressive, anti-choice tactics seem like Microsoft is shooting itself in the foot. For one thing, the constant hassle of using Edge is sure to sour many users on the browser; I’ve heard a lot of people say they won’t use Edge just because of the way Microsoft keeps pushing them.

Also, in some cases, Windows is even aggressive towards users using Edge. I like to run beta versions of browsers as I often write about them and I like to test new features early on. But Windows often gives me a hard time when I switch my default version of Edge stable to one of the development versions, like Dev or Canary. Even when I use Edge, Microsoft still tries to make me use Edge.

It’s all very frustrating and frankly exhausting to deal with. With the exception of iOS, I can’t think of any other modern operating system that makes selecting a default browser as difficult as Windows does. Nobody wants to fight with their computer to do the things they want it to do. Hopefully Microsoft really listens to people (as they say) and fixes the default apps situation in Windows 11 before the final version is released later this year.

Source: The edge


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