Microsoft wants you to use Edge to browse, but you have the option to refuse and to Change the Browser.
With a centered taskbar, windows with rounded corners, and a minimalist design that makes this OS feel like it belongs in 2021, Windows 11 brings an exciting UI refresh to the platform. However, the news isn’t all good. As it turns out, Microsoft has aggressively promoted Edge as the default browser, making it increasingly difficult to use your preferred browser. In a nutshell, it’s a shambles.
What’s going on with browser choice in Windows 11?
When you first open a link after installing a third-party browser on Windows 11, a pop-up will ask you how you want to open the link (i.e. which browser you would like to use). Because a pop-up appears in Windows 10, you might assume the process is the same—you select the browser you want, then click “OK.”
Unless you remember to click the easy-to-miss “Always use this app” option, every subsequent link will open in Microsoft Edge. Even if you try to use a third-party browser exclusively, you will never see this pop-up again. So, what’s the deal?
Microsoft isn’t completely anti-competitive; there is a way to make Google Chrome your default web browser, for example…but it’s not easy. Instead of having a simple option to say “Windows, always open my stuff in Google Chrome,” you’d have to set Chrome as your default for each individual file type, such as HTM, HTML, PDF, SHTML, SVG, WEBP, XHT, XHTML, FTP, HTTP, and HTTPS.
In Windows 11, things are currently done in this manner. Instead of a pop-up, most web browsers will direct you to the Default Apps section of Settings, where you can select which web browser you want to use for each file type listed (the default on each will be, of course, Microsoft Edge). Simply go to Settings > Apps > Default Apps to access this settings page.
With this new “system,” Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Vivaldi, and Brave all managed to change all of these options without having to ask you to do it for them. In the same article, The Verge highlights concerns from web browser makers such as Mozilla, Vivaldi, and Opera about Microsoft’s approach to user choice.
It’s a shame, because Edge, despite its bad rep, is a great browser. I guess Microsoft believes that the only way to persuade you of this is to make you use it. That’s one way to entice users to join, but it feels a little predatory.