Switching from Microsoft Edge becomes more boring in Windows 11
A report released today by The Verge drew attention to how the current beta versions of Windows 11 handle third-party web browsers like Chrome and Firefox. These tweaks continue a trend that has intensified over the lifecycle of Windows 10: you can use the browser of your choice under Windows! But are you sure you don’t want to try Microsoft Edge instead? Are you Of course? Are you really, really sure?
There are two functional changes in the current beta of Windows 11 that make switching browsers more annoying. The first is that the operating system no longer displays a window asking if you want to change browsers the first time you click a link after installing a new browser. The second is that the “default apps” screen has removed the broad categories of apps currently available in Windows 10. Windows 10 allows you to set the default mail app, card app, music player. , photo viewer, video player, and web browser from the default apps screen, while Windows 11 requires you to choose one app first and default one file extension at a time.
When you do try changing the default app that handles Edge’s .htm or .html files to something else, Windows 11 takes this to make sure you’re absolutely sure you really want to move away from Edge.
Collectively, these changes represent another escalation in Windows’ never-ending quest to remind you that it comes with its own browser, and Microsoft deserves to be criticized for it. I don’t need to be told the good news about Edge every time I install a major update, use Edge to download Chrome, or visit one of the websites in Microsoft with a browser other than Edge. But browser manufacturers can make this process a little less boring in practice. For example, when I install Chrome on Windows 11 and click on Chrome’s “Set as Default” button, it returns me to the Windows 11 default apps screen. But when I click on the “Set as default” button Firefox “default” works, no additional clicks are required.
The way Windows 11 handles less used (or just browser-adjacent) file extensions is actually a bit less confusing as the way Windows 10 handles them. Changing default browser settings in Windows 10 and Windows 11 leaves it up to Microsoft Edge to open a bunch of other file extensions, including .pdf, .svg, and .shtml. You might think this is new behavior in Windows 11, but Windows 11 makes it easier to see. Be able to see every file extension that every application on your computer can open and which apps are responsible for opening them is convenient, and the presentation of Windows 11 is a big improvement over the semi-buried version of Windows 10 of the same view.
Rolling back the two most significant changes to Windows 11 browser behavior – the missing pop-up and the missing high-level version from the “Default Apps” screen – would be relatively trivial, and mostly solve the practical issues here. In the meantime, some browser makers seem to have figured out how to make the process of changing default browsers less painful.
List image by Microsoft