Microsoft reverses Windows 11 changes that made it hard to switch browsers

It will soon be easier to set a default browser for outside links.


Microsoft appears to be eliminating Windows 11 changes that made it harder to switch default browsers, according to a report from The Verge's Tom Warren. A new Insider build now lets you switch from Edge to Chrome, Firefox or other browsers with a single button, rather than laboriously changing the default for each type of link.

The change only applies to internal links loaded outside a browser. Currently, when you click on such a link, it opens up a dialog box that gives you the option of switching browsers, but your preference isn't retained unless you tick the "always use this app" box. What's worse, you have to set the default for multiple types of web files, including HTM, HTML, HTTP and HTTPS. Each time, a confusing nag box pops up asking you to reconfirm your preference.

In the latest build, you can set your default browser with a single button, as EarTrumpet app developer Rafael Rivera noticed. "In the Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 22509 released to the Dev Channel on Wednesday, we streamlined the ability for a Windows Insider to set the ‘default browser’ to apps that register for HTTP:, HTTPS:, .HTM, and .HTML," Microsoft VP Aaron Woodman told The Verge.

Shortly after Windows 11 came out, Microsoft said it made the changes to give users more granular control. That prompted complaints from rival browser makers including Brave, Opera, Firefox and Chrome. "We condemn this Windows 11 approach, because the choice of a default browser has many implications for individuals and their privacy. Users should be free to choose," a Brave spokesperson told The Verge.

Microsoft has run into fairly serious antitrust issues with its browsers in the past, having been hit by the EU with a $730 million fine in 2013 for browser choice non-compliance. The EU also fined the company $1.35 billion in 2008 over a similar issue. The new feature is now in testing, but it's not clear when it will be released widely.