Windows 11 will let you change your default browser more easily again
Microsoft is reverting a change in Windows 11 that made it much harder to change your default browser through the system settings. With Windows 11 build 22509, which was released earlier this week, Microsoft has added a button to the Settings app that allows you to quickly change your default browser to whatever you prefer, as discovered by Twitter user Rafael Rivera (via The Verge).
As seen in an image shared by Rivera, when you head into the file associations page for a browser like Chrome, you’ll now see a button at the top that lets you make it your default browser. This is also the page you’re taken to when a browser asks you if you want to set it as the default, so it’s now much easier to change your default browser with a couple of clicks. Microsoft has confirmed this change is intentional, though it didn’t say whether we’ll need to wait for a full feature update next fall or if it will be delivered through a cumulative update to the current version of Windows 11.
This change is an important one because this was one of the most controversial moves Microsoft made in its attempt to force users to use the Edge browser. When you attempt to open a link outside a browser in Windows 11 and you have multiple browsers installed, you’re asked to choose a browser. But unless you specifically choose a different browser from Edge and mark the checkbox to make that browser your default, Edge will be the default from there on out. To add insult to injury, the Windows 11 Settings page no longer lets you choose a default browser app in general; instead, you have to change the associations for the HTTP protocol, HTML files, and so on individually, which made it much more tedious to change your default browser. This prompted Mozilla to develop a hack that allowed Firefox to circumvent all of this and make itself the default browser.
It gets worse, however, as Microsoft has taken other steps that go against user choice. The company recently blocked Edge Deflector, an app that redirected native Windows 11 links from Edge to the user’s default browser. Just yesterday, it was discovered that the company is also showing discouraging prompts in the Edge browser if users tried to download Google Chrome. Hopefully, we’ll see more consumer-friendly changes that make it easier for users to choose their own browser.
Aside from this change, Windows 11 build 22509 included a few more tweaks for Windows 11, namely giving users more new customization options for the Start menu, allowing them to either see more pinned items or more items from the Recommended list at the bottom. It also brought more settings from the Control Panel into the Windows 11 Settings app, part of Microsoft’s process to unify all its settings under one interface, which has been going for a few years now.