Microsoft accused of making it harder to ditch Edge in Windows 11

A screenshot of the Windows 11 Start Menu
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft has been accused of making it harder to switch default browsers in Windows 11, prompting complaints from browser competitors like Firefox and Opera.

The tech giant has changed the way users can set default apps on its new operating system, according to The Verge. Similar to Windows 10, a prompt appears when a user installs a new browser or opens a web link for the first time.

The problem lies with a change in the way default browser apps are handled in Windows 11. Where Windows 10 allowed users to change default apps based on a program, Windows 11 requires users to set defaults by file or link type instead, much in the same way that PDFs or image extensions are handled.

For example, in Chrome, this means individually changing the default behaviour for HTM, HTML, PDF, SHTML, SVG, WEBP, XHT, XHTML, FTP, HTTP, and HTTPs, with each having its own drop-down menu.

Rival browsers tend to prompt users to set them as default, forcing them to navigate the default apps part of settings to do this.

Critics have argued that this creates unnecessary complications in what otherwise should be a simple process, causing many users to simply stick with Edge.

A demonstration of how users need to set default apps in Windows 11

(Image credit: The Verge)

“Being able to select your preferred web browser is essential to shaping the internet experience that everyone deserves,” Selena Deckelmann, senior vice president of Firefox said to IT Pro. ”We have been increasingly worried about the trend on Windows. Since Windows 10, users have had to take additional and unnecessary steps to set and retain their default browser settings. These barriers are confusing at best and seem designed to undermine a user’s choice for a non-Microsoft browser.”

Krystian Kolondra, Opera’s EVP and head of desktop browsers, told IT Pro that it is “unfortunate” when a platform vendor is “obscurifying a common use case to improve the standing of their own product”.

“We would like to encourage all platform vendors to respect user choice and allow competition on their platforms. Taking away user choice is a step backwards,” added Kolondra.

IT Pro has contacted Google and Microsoft for comment.

Zach Marzouk

Zach Marzouk is a former ITPro, CloudPro, and ChannelPro staff writer, covering topics like security, privacy, worker rights, and startups, primarily in the Asia Pacific and the US regions. Zach joined ITPro in 2017 where he was introduced to the world of B2B technology as a junior staff writer, before he returned to Argentina in 2018, working in communications and as a copywriter. In 2021, he made his way back to ITPro as a staff writer during the pandemic, before joining the world of freelance in 2022.