Microsoft’s upcoming release of Windows 11 will make it even harder to switch default browsers and ignores browser defaults in new areas of the operating system. While Microsoft is making many positive changes to the Windows 11 UI, the default apps experience is a step back and browser competitors like Mozilla, Opera, and Vivaldi are concerned.
In Windows 11, Microsoft has changed the way you set default apps. Like Windows 10, there’s a prompt that appears when you install a new browser and open a web link for the first time. It’s the only opportunity to easily switch browsers, though. Unless you tick “always use this app,” the default will never be changed. It’s incredibly easy to forget to toggle the “always use this app” option, and simply launch the browser you want from this prompt and never see this default choice again when you click web links.
If you do forget to set your default browser at first launch, the experience for switching defaults is now very confusing compared to Windows 10. Chrome and many other rival browsers will often prompt users to set them as default and will throw Windows users into the default apps part of settings to enable this.
Microsoft has changed the way default apps are assigned in Windows 11, which means you now have to set defaults by file or link type instead of a single switch. In the case of Chrome, that means changing the default file type for HTM, HTML, PDF, SHTML, SVG, WEBP, XHT, XHTML, FTP, HTTP, and HTTPS.
It’s an unnecessarily long process compared to Windows 10, which allows you to quickly and easily switch default email, maps, music, photos, videos, and web browser apps. I tested the latest versions of Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Vivaldi, and Brave, and only Firefox was able to set defaults without sending users to the default apps section of Windows 11. Either way, competitors aren’t impressed with Microsoft’s changes to Windows 11 here.