Windows 11 will make it harder to change the default web browser

Ever since it decided to finally retire Internet Explorer, Microsoft has been on an aggressive campaign to push its replacement into everyone's minds. It took its efforts to the next level when it switched its Edge browser from its homegrown edgeHTML to Chromium. After experiencing legal penalties over Internet Explorer, Microsoft has been more careful about giving its users the option to use their browser of choice on Windows. That doesn't mean it has to make it easy, though, as changes in Windows 11 seem to suggest.

Changing the default web browser has always been possible on Windows 10, but the most accurate description of the process is probably that it's terribly annoying. In addition to asking if you're sure you really want to switch away from Microsoft Edge, Windows will remind you every chance it gets that Microsoft's own browser exists, whether it's after a system update or use a different application to browse Microsoft websites.

Apparently, Windows 11 will add "cumbersome" on top of "annoying" by changing the way you change default apps. Windows 10 had high-level categories where you could pick which web browser, email client, or music player you wanted to make the default. Windows 11 switches that around and instead makes users first select an app like Chrome and then choose the default app for each and every file type that Chrome supports, like .htm, .html, .svg, and even .pdf.

This multi-step process is bound to discourage users from changing defaults, which is probably what Microsoft wants. Each change is also met with a confirmation popup, making it even more laborious to simply change Edge to Chrome or any other browser. While Windows 10 always had the option to change default apps per file type, Windows 11 is apparently making it the default and only method.

Unsurprisingly, other browser makers aren't happy with this change and have called out Microsoft on its continuing shenanigans. Those browser makers can apparently make things a bit easier by offering a single button that will change all the defaults automatically, but it still has to be worked out and polished. Hopefully, this change is only a temporary thing, and that Microsoft will revert to the more respectful behavior by the time Windows 11 finally rolls out.