Windows and its default browser are maybe the most divisive pair in recent memory. Microsoft has tinkered with the default browser settings far too often, much to customers’ chagrin.
The Redmond-based business buried the option to switch to a different browser deep in its Settings app, labeling Edge as the recommended browser. With Windows 11, things became worse. The new Settings app offers a list of file kinds and URLs for the browser that must be manually modified to make it the handler for each type. This is a big job.
A solution was developed by Mozilla that allowed users to choose Firefox as their default browser in Windows 11. The delight was short-lived, since the flaw was fixed in a December 2021 Windows Update.
Around the same time, Microsoft began aggressively pushing Edge in new ways. When using Edge’s default search engine, Bing, to find a new browser, a banner displayed telling the user not to download one and that Microsoft Edge delivers a fast, secure, and contemporary web experience. As a result, Vivaldi’s CEO, Jón von Tetzchner, slammed Microsoft Edge’s anti-competitive
In the KB5011563 Cumulative Preview Patch for Windows 11 stable channel, there is a secret change that may solve this issue. With a simple click, users may designate their favourite browser as default handler.
How to set the default browser in Windows 11 (Build 22000.593 or above)
- Launch Settings. Select Apps from the sidebar.
- Click in the text box “Set defaults for programs” beneath Default Apps.
- Find the software you want to use as your default browser. Mozilla, Vivaldi, Chrome, etc. This tutorial uses Firefox.
- If the app’s name appears in the search results, click it.
- Click the “Set Default” button at the top of the page.
Previously, it required numerous clicks. This will make the software open HTM, HTML, HTTP, and HTTPS by default. You must explicitly specify it as the handler for the other formats. Some default browsers will open additional formats like PDF, MHTML, SHTML.
Changes to the default browser in Windows 11 do not affect web searches from the Start Menu. Microsoft limits this feature to Edge, which has also been criticized.
The new option was added in December 2021 in the Windows Insider Dev Channel. The stable release took a few months, but it was worth the wait for user choice.
I’m not clear if the modification was made due to customer complaints or fear of another antitrust case. Microsoft, we hope, has learnt.