Browser selection in Windows 11 has been one of the controversial issues of the operating system. According to Microsoft, the changes compared to Windows 10 allow the use of different browsers for each type of extension and protocol and thus offer greater customization and flexibility. For the competitors and part of the users, it is a monopolistic technique that hinders the use of alternatives and the free choice of the user, only seeking to promote his own Edge browser.
The problem may seem minor, but it is not and is about to cause another “browser war”. In Windows 8.1 and earlier, when you installed an alternative web browser to Internet Explorer, the software offered to set it as default, and if you chose it, that was all you had to do. In Windows 10, programs cannot be automatically set as default, including browsers, but selection is still easy from the menu present in the Settings tool.
For Windows 11, Microsoft has made relevant changes, as it is necessary make this choice for each type of extension and protocol associated with the browser (HTM, HTML, PDF, SHTML, SVG, WEBP, XHT, XHTML, FTP, HTTP, HTTPS, etc.). It’s interesting, but very few users use it and in practice the vast majority don’t bother with its complexity and will continue to use the default browser, which is none other than Edge.
Remember that Microsoft has also blocked the app edge deflector which thwarted the behavioral changes Microsoft made to the way Windows manage mouse clicks on certain web links from certain Windows componentsanother controversy that has not yet been resolved and that is part of a general Microsoft strategy of taking advantage of Windows’ huge market share to improve the share of its own developments compared to third parties.
How to change browser in Windows 11
To calm the waters, Microsoft promised to make a few changes that it tested in the Insider channel. This week the Redmond company released a cumulative update for Windows 11 (KB5012592) which, in addition to other security features, allows any user to switch browsers more easily, since for the first time is available for the stable version. We leave the whole process to you.
To install the update:
- If you haven’t enabled automatic updates, go to Settings > Windows Update and check for updates.
- There you will see Cumulative Update for Windows 11 (KB5012592).
- Download and install.
Once the computer restarts, you can make the change. The selection of browsers in Windows 11 it’s easier than the tedious previous process and is done as follows:
- Press “Win + I” shortcuts to access the Settings tool.
- Go to Apps > Default apps > Set app defaults.
- There you can type in the name of any other browser you have installed, select it from the list, and set it as default.
It must be said that the change is done with a simple click and concerns the main web extensions such as .html, .htm, .http and .https.
Nevertheless, not possible this way change the defaults for all associated extensions and Edge will remain the default application for opening PDF, SHTML, SVG, FTP, and other web-related files unless you manually change all file associations one by one a.
Windows components and links
Another open issue that has yet to be resolved. We refer to the behavior of the system when you click on certain Windows components such as Widgets. That has not changed and inexorably use Edge by default even if you have selected Chrome or others as your default browser. And it is that, at the moment, only Microsoft Edge can manage the “microsoft-edge:// protocol” and third-party applications are not allowed to do so.
The change with the KB5012592 update is a step forward for those who want easier and more seamless browser switching in Windows 11, but It doesn’t look like this will be the final solution. Competitors like Mozilla, Brave or Vivaldi aren’t happy and are demanding something similar to the browser choice window that Microsoft already had to put in place when regulators threatened penalties. The case comes from very far, from the launch of Windows 95 which Microsoft took advantage of to promote Internet Explorer against the rest of its competitors and which could have cost it dearly after a legal battle which we still remember.
For our part, we insist. Microsoft Edge is a great browser (the best ever produced by Microsoft) and to increase its adoption rate you don’t need tricks, dark patterns or non-transparent techniques one of those used by Microsoft and not just to gain an advantage in browsers. As you see it? Do you think the changes put in place to make it easier to select browsers in Windows 11 are enough? Should all web protocols be switched in one click? Is it better to select them one by one for maximum customization?