Microsoft is making it easier to ditch Edge in Windows 11

Microsoft Edge Browser
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Changing your default browser in Windows 11 is, currently, a bit of a pain. Read our how to change the default browser in Windows 11 to learn how. But despite aggressively nudging those who want to switch to Chrome with pop-up messages, it appears Microsoft will soon make the process slightly easier for want-away users to ditch Edge once and for all. 

As first spotted by developer Rafael Rivera, the Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 22509 now allows users to change their default browser for a number of file extensions, including http, https, htm and html in one place. Previously, you had to dig through a labyrinth of menus to find each one — something which was definitely more confusing than it ever was on Windows 10.

Microsoft confirmed that this was a deliberate attempt to “streamline” the process in comments made to The Verge

"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," explained Aaron Woodman, the vice president of Windows marketing. "Through the Windows Insider Program you will continue to see us try new things based on customer feedback and testing."

It’s certainly a welcome change from Microsoft, which has been increasingly brazen in its attempts to keep users from switching to Chrome, Firefox or other third-party alternatives. Last month, it was revealed that some elements of Windows’ behavior are now so tightly bound to Microsoft Edge that removing all traces of the browser will break things completely, rather than simply letting an alternative browser take over. This prevented programs like EdgeDeflector from breaking Windows 11’s reliance on Microsoft’s first-party browser.

This irked other browser makers, who, in the past, have criticized Microsoft's approach earlier this year. It also sounds oddly familiar to United States v. Microsoft Corporation, an antitrust lawsuit from 2001 that accused the software giant of illegally maintaining a browser monopoly. Prosecutors posited that Microsoft created an unfair environment for competing browsers, like Netscape Navigator and Opera, from competing. Microsoft lost the lawsuit. 

It’s not yet clear whether this latest development changes that, but it will still be a step in the right direction when it goes beyond the Insider program for all users to enjoy. 

Windows 11 is available to all users of Windows 10 as a free upgrade, and Microsoft is doing its best to push those eligible for the upgrade to make the switch. Recently, for example, Microsoft introduced x64 emulation to Windows 11 while removing the same functionality from Windows 10 insiders. 

Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.