Windows 11 makes it harder to change your default web browser
One of the interesting facets of Windows’ “evolution” over the past decade or so is the way Microsoft suddenly pretends not to be up to date with current institutional knowledge. Microsoft, for example, has had to learn that the design of apps that act like malware is wrong. He must have learned that people appreciate patch notes. He must have learned that people want more control over when and how their PCs update.
The last concept that Microsoft has “forgotten” that people care about is browser choice. When you start a new browser for the first time in Windows 11, Microsoft asks you which app you want to use to open web content, like detailed by The Verge. Fair enough. But, according to this post, this currently normal behavior only occurs the very first time you use the browser. If you do not select “Always use this app”, you will no longer see the message. Ars reports that this message is no longer displayed at all, so there seems to be some confusion about exactly how this is handled, but either the message is not displayed or it is only displayed once.
In Windows 10, if you no longer see this message, you can adjust your default browser by typing “default browser”, which will display the option to choose a default web browser as well as other apps. In Windows 11, this option to change the entire default browser with one click is gone. Instead, you’ll have to change the defaults for FTP, HTM, HTML, HTTP, HTTPS, PDF, SHTML, SVG, WEBP, XHT, and XHTML manually, one at a time.
Adding more granularity for advanced users is fine, but removing the option to set a default browser with one click is not. Microsoft annoying you for using Edge while you’re actively trying to assign tasks to Chrome doesn’t agree either. Ars reports that Chrome sends you back to the default apps page to set your standards one by one, but Firefox was able to set itself as default, so there also seems to be some variation in terms of what third-party browsers do when. they are faced with this behavior.
If Microsoft iterates over a design and intends to implement the default browser one-click option and / or change the way it displays browser options after installing a new one, no problem . Windows 11 is still in beta and some adjustments are expected. However, Microsoft has yet to declare that this is the end goal.
“With Windows 11, we are implementing customer feedback to customize and control defaults on a more granular level, eliminating application categories and elevating all applications to the forefront of the default experience.” a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement to The Verge. “As evidenced by this change, we are constantly listening and learning, and welcoming the customer feedback that helps shape Windows. Windows 11 will continue to evolve over time; if we learn from the user experience that there are ways to make improvements, we will. “
If the company leaves the OS in this configuration, it will be a further escalation of hostilities between Microsoft and its own customers. The situation is potentially reminiscent of the 1990s, when Microsoft was legendary for “embrace, extend and extinguish.” We cannot pretend that Microsoft is refusing to allow customers to change their default browser. It’s just made as difficult and expensive as it can be while technically still offering the option. In the past, this was a one-click option. Now you need to change 11 different document defaults.
The problem with assuming Microsoft is acting in good faith is that we’ve heard this excuse over and over. Microsoft “obviously learned a lot” after deploying the final version of Get Windows 10, equivalent to malware. He must have received “feedback” from corporate clients before he learned that the abolition of non-security patch notes was wrong. In 2015, after the initial backlash over Windows 10 privacy, what was Microsoft doing? “Listening and learning. “The problem is not that the company is learning, but that it continues to forget what it has previously ‘learned’ about customer preferences.
Deconstructing browser choice into several individual settings reads more like an attempt to snow users, not help them. It sounds like a miniature version of the tactics Star Citizen now employs in regards to its roadmap. After being repeatedly criticized for being years behind in delivering the titular game, Cloud Imperium Games has released such a fragmented roadmap that there’s no way to draw any conclusions. Open each top-level menu and try to capture the result (we did), and the final image is thousands of pixels long, before by opening the secondary headers. On my own PC it hit 12,338 pixels, but your mileage will vary depending on screen resolution and magnification settings. The Star Citizen Roadmap is incredibly detailed, but the sheer amount of information makes it impossible to quickly determine how the game’s development is progressing over time.
Microsoft’s list of settings to change is much shorter, but the principle is the same. A list of 11 options that need to be changed is confusing, especially for less technical users, in a way that a single option is not. This does not appear to be an attempt to prioritize user choice. If it did, Microsoft would offer a global option to configure your browser and then give end users the ability to change which browser opened which type of document through a secondary set of menus. This would give users the initial option to create local accounts rather than obscuring it. It would offer end users the option to opt out of any telemetry collection. This would allow users to rearrange the Start menu significantly or sort it other than alphabetically. If Microsoft cared about customer choice, the choice to display ads in Windows would be opt-in, not opt-out, Edge would not automatically import the data other browsers on startup without the ability to shut it down, and Microsoft would not require customers to install third-party utilities to block their automatic updates.
By the way, that last point: if you’re working on a hobby or a job that requires long processing times, there might literally be no good time for Windows to restart your PC. Some projects, like video rendering, cannot be restarted in the middle if they are interrupted halfway. Workloads must be started from scratch. Some workloads can take 40-80 hours to render – the VSGAN I have experienced runs at 0.33 fps and requires 55 hours to process 45 minutes of footage.
Microsoft absolutely cares about consumer choice, but it seems to believe that everyone makes the wrong choices. People are using Google instead of Bing. They use Chrome instead of Edge. They prefer the ability to create local accounts and not lose 48 hour render projects in the middle because Windows has restarted to update (ask me how I know!). It’s good to offer users the ability to explore detailed settings and control individual options, but it doesn’t replace an easy way to change browser permissions.
Hopefully this will all be resolved by the time the operating system is launched and users will have an easy way to change their browser’s default settings. If they don’t, it will look a lot like what Microsoft attempted to capture as literal default which it failed to achieve in fair competition.