Microsoft is going to improve the worst thing about Windows 11 — here’s how

an image of Android apps on a Windows 11 laptop
(Image credit: Microsoft/Dell)

One of Windows 11’s biggest faults is the way it handles default apps. Changing the default browser in particular, and despite updates the whole process is still more complicated than it was on Windows 10. Thankfully, Microsoft is rolling out another update to make the process slightly less annoying.

Microsoft announced this change in a blog post, saying the company is “reaffirming [its] long-standing approach to put people in control of their Windows PC experience.”

Part of this involves offering a “common supported way” for developers to give users the ability to make that app a default. For users this means a new “settings deep link URI” designed to take you straight to the menu that lets you change your default apps. That should help save you a little bit of time, though it feels like Microsoft could be doing a little bit more.

It doesn’t look as though this update will bypass the need to change your app default for all the different file types that might be in use. Take your web browser, for instance: changing the default browser from Edge to Chrome means ensuring you switch the likes of HTTP, HTTPS and PDF files will all open in Chrome. Otherwise Windows will keep opening them in Edge, as if you hadn’t done anything.

That’s not to say this isn’t a welcome change. The fact that an app can take you straight down to the relevant part of the settings menu is going to speed up the process — even if it still isn’t as simple as it could be.

Microsoft also says that it’ll be giving users more control over which apps get pinned to their desktop, start menu and taskbar. That’s thanks to a new public API that will prompt users to grant this permission before software icons are pinned.

Microsoft noted that it wants to ensure user choice is respected, and is taking steps to prevent unsolicited modification from taking place. The company also claims that it will be doing more with this later this year, as developers get to grips with the new way of doing things. 

Microsoft will also be leading by example, with Edge adopting these features when they become available. Both features will start rolling out in the coming months, starting with the Windows Insider Dev Channel. A public rollout will likely happen sometime later, though it isn’t clear when.

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Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.

  • bjnmail
    Definitely not the worst thing in Windows 11. That's still the immovable taskbar, hands down.

    If this were 2011 and we all still had 16:9 monitors, I'd be fine with the taskbar on the bottom. But I don't need a 1m wide taskbar on the bottom of my double-wide display when I would much rather have it on the side where it isn't in the way and stealing valuable vertical screen real estate.
  • Ciprian L
    No, the worst is when windows update breaks your system. They don't even have clear description of what an update actually is, especially in the case of driver updates. And to permanently block certain update, one has to use tools other than the windows update manager.
  • SR56
    The worst thing for me is how it broke my Windows Hello facial recognition a year ago and now the snip tool about 2 months ago with no fix.