Microsoft backtracks on Windows 11’s controversial default browser changes

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The changes Microsoft made to Windows 11 made it more difficult to switch browsers. A new test build of Windows 11 allows users of browsers like Chrome, Firefox, and other to set a default browser with a single button, which is a far simpler process.

The new Windows 11 changes were discovered by the developer of the EarTrumpet Windows app. Instead of having to change individual file extensions or protocol handler for various protocols, Windows 11 now offers a simple button that lets people switch default browsers in a similar way to Windows 10.

The changes are currently being tested. The default browser for Windows Insiders was streamlined in the preview build of Windows 11. The Windows Insider Program will allow us to try new things based on customer feedback.

Microsoft told The Verge earlier this year that it was implementing customer feedback to control default settings at a more granular level. Rival browser makers weren't happy with the changes, and Microsoft's approach to default apps was criticized.

When a rival browser is installed, Windows 11 will only prompt you when you click a link from outside a browser, try to open a document or access a browser protocol. You can open a file or link in a different browser with the prompt, but you have to always use the program. If you don't check the box, you'll have to manually set a bunch of options in the settings app.

Today, the default apps process in Windows 11.

The new Windows 11 changes that make it easier to switch default apps and browsers are still being tested by Microsoft, but it is not clear when they will be available to all users. We are expecting to see these debut with a larger update to Windows 11 next year, but Microsoft hasn't announced a release date and some features and updates are appearing ahead of the big annual drop of features.

It is encouraging to see Microsoft listening to the feedback around its Windows 11 changes. This U-turn comes amid anger over a new built-in tool in Microsoft Edge and Microsoft's efforts to discourage people from using Chrome.