Microsoft Backtracks On Default Browser Settings

John Lister's picture

Microsoft looks set to reverse a controversial change to Windows 11 settings. The move will make it easier to change the default browser away from Microsoft Edge.

Before Windows 10, browsers could easily set themselves as the default, meaning they would automatically open any web pages or links. While that was meant to work only where the user had given permission, Microsoft concluded there was too much risk of rogue software setting itself to open web links, in turn letting it display bogus pages designed to install malware or trick users into providing login details.

With Windows 10, setting a web browser became part of a simple setting screen that also allowed users to change the default option for opening other types of files such as audio or photos. Changing the web browser default automatically covered all web pages.

Multi-File Confusion

Windows 11 replaced this simple one-click option with individual settings for multiple different types of web file. This included files ending with both the .html and .htm extensions, pages using the HTTP and HTTPS protocols, and PDF documents (which many users now view in web browsers rather than dedicated tools such as Adobe Acrobat).

Not only did users now have to manually set multiple file types to their chosen browser, but there was a risk of missing some file types by mistake, creating inconsistencies in how different web pages and links were handled. While it's possible to argue this was simply a case of greater user choice, a more cynical take was the Microsoft was intentionally making it more hassle to change to a different browser.

One Button Selection

Now the latest in-development test version of Windows 11 (Build 22509) contains a tweak to the menu. Although the separate settings still exist for each file type, there's also a single "Make default" button that automatically switches all the file types to default to the same browser. (Source:

Microsoft says the change is being tried out in its Windows Insider Program so it's not yet confirmed if and when it will roll out for all users. (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

Is this a good move by Microsoft? Do you find it easy to change default app choices in Windows? Did the Windows 11 changes cross the line from irritating to unfairly anticompetitive?

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topgum's picture

it's about time. Microsoft has many subtle ways to capture users but this was heavy handed

lgitschlag_3159's picture

Egad. Poor MS, still hasn't learned how to please the customer. It's negative reputation still stands. If it ain't broke, don't "fix" it! I should try another OS.