Most people have probably used Microsoft’s Edge browser, but the majority of them are probably only doing so to download another browser. Microsoft doesn’t make it particularly easy to switch the defaults in Windows 10, and Windows 11 is set to make it even harder. Mozilla has apparently had enough. Firefox has quietly implemented a new feature to switch your defaults without digging around in the Windows settings. How long that will last is anyone’s guess.
Microsoft has a history of obnoxiously promoting Edge, even going so far as to cram ads and scare-mongering popups into its operating system. So, it should come as no surprise that it makes it unnecessarily difficult to change the default browser. WIndows offers you one option to set your default the first time you open a link, but if you miss the checkbox, you’re going to have to dig around in the settings. As of Firefox 91, which launched on August 10th, you no longer need to do that if Firefox is your preferred browser.
Mozilla publicly protested the way Microsoft manages default apps after the unveiling of Windows 11. In Windows 10, you only had to find one toggle deep in the settings to switch your browser, but Windows 11 complicates matters by giving every file type its own default. So, you’ll need to select apps for HTM, HTML, SHTML, and so on. Edge doesn’t need to do that, though, and Mozilla was able to reverse engineer that feature.
In Firefox 91, you can just click the button to set the browser as your default, and that’s it. Previously, all apps could do was open the correct page in the settings so you could change the default. So far, no other browsers have implemented the workaround. Chrome, Opera, and the other Chromium-based options all just link you to the Windows settings, which is going to be more frustrating when Windows 11 arrives.
Microsoft has valid reasons for protecting the default settings on Windows. You obviously don’t want random apps to trick you into setting a default. Although, it’s hard to believe Microsoft is making it more difficult to control application preferences out of a concern for system security. It’s done too many ridiculous things to promote Edge over the years to ever convince me of that.
Windows 11 isn’t final yet, so perhaps Microsoft will change things around to break Mozilla’s workaround. Or maybe it’ll just implement a more sensible way to control default apps. We can dream, can’t we?
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