Microsoft to stop forcing Edge on Windows 11 users

Microsoft has changed the way Windows 11 handles switching default web browsers, thankfully, reversing an unpopular decision it made when the OS was still in pre-release testing (back in August).

A fresh preview (testing) version of Windows 11 (build 22509) now lets you switch the operating system’s default browser with a simple single click; which is just as it should be (and the scheme of things in Windows 10).

So, what currently happens in Windows 11? Well, Microsoft concocted a rather convoluted method in the guise of offering users more fine-tuned control over what browser opens what files, which was, as we observed at the time of its inception, basically a nightmare (and it remains so).

You get one chance to change your default browser away from Edge when you first install and fire up an alternative browser, like say Chrome or Firefox – and when you pick that alternative, you must remember to tick the ‘Always use this app’ box. If you don’t check the box, you won’t see this prompt again, and instead you’ll have to go into Settings yourself and manually change the default browser.

The problem is that currently with Windows 11, this involves having to stipulate Chrome (or whatever alternative you wish to use instead of the built-in Edge browser) for multiple file types: HTML, HTM, PDF, SHTML, WEBP, HTTP, HTTPS, and more. As we already noted, the theory pushed by Microsoft is that this allows for more granular control.

But what it really represents for the overwhelming majority is a lot of clicking and changing, but fortunately, as Rafael Rivera tweeted (via The Verge) to point out, in a new test build, Windows 11 now has a simple ‘Set default’ button for browsers, bringing things back in line with how Windows 10 works.

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Microsoft’s Aaron Woodman, VP of Windows marketing, told 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.”

Analysis: This should never have happened in the first place

Remember, this new scheme is only in testing now, but with any luck, the change should come to the full version of Windows 11 eventually. As we touched on above, Microsoft’s argument about giving more fine-tuned control for default settings based on user feedback doesn’t wash, at all. Clearly, this was – well, still is for the time being – a way of making sure Edge keeps getting pushed to the forefront.

Along with all the various ads for Edge, which as we saw earlier this week, have reached new lows in terms of anti-Chrome pop-ups (including ‘that browser is so 2008!’).

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Microsoft, you aren’t going to nag people into using your browser (or anything else), it’ll just annoy them and likely have the opposite effect, if anything. Nobody would be too bothered about the occasional pop-up, perhaps, but the amount of promotional activity, combined with software changes like this whole debacle around defaults, is dangerous territory to be treading.

At least this Windows 11 default browser decision has now been reversed, and we hope that the change comes through sooner rather than later.

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By forcing Bing on Chrome users, Microsoft is back to its bad old ways

Come on Microsoft. You must know that no one likes Bing. Cramming it into a Spider-Man film in a bid to make it appear cool didn’t work – mainly because in a film involving radioactive spiders, superheroes and lizard people, the idea of anyone willingly using Bing rather than Google was the most unrealistic aspect.

In fact, I have a sneaky suspicion that the most searched-for term in Bing is “How to download Chrome”, as people use Microsoft’s Edge browser, which comes with Windows 10 and has Bing as the default search engine, to download Google’s Chrome browser.

I'd even wager that the user numbers for Bing compared to Google must be so small, they are practically an anomaly. More of a blip than a bing.

And Microsoft must know this. Which is why the company has been trying to foist its unloved search engine on us. Not only does Edge default to Bing, but using the search box in Windows 10 brings up Bing results when you search the internet, with no easy way to change it.

And even worse, it’s now emerged that Microsoft is planning to include a “Bing extension for Chrome” that will be automatically installed alongside a forthcoming update to Microsoft Office 356 ProPlus.

This will change the default search engine of Chrome from Google (or any other search engine) to Bing. Quite why Microsoft thinks that anyone using Microsoft Office 356 ProPlus would also want to have their search engine changed to Bing is beyond me. It’s come up with some old excuse about needing to use Microsoft search or whatever, but to be blunt, that’s no reason to forcibly change people’s search engines.

Microsoft Bing

With great power comes great responsibility

Instead, Microsoft wants people to use Bing not through choice, but through force. And while many people will change back to Google as soon as they’ve noticed that their search queries bring back Bing results, I’m sure Microsoft is banking on enough people not realising, or just sticking with it, victims of digital Stockholm syndrome.

In my view, this is a move that hearkens back to Microsoft’s shadier past where it has tried to force its products on users. Anyone who has used a fresh version of Windows 10 will know that if you use Edge (and Bing) to search from Chrome to download, you used to get messages popping up trying to dissuade you from doing so, and instead stick with Edge.

Not only was this annoying (and a bit desperate), but it was using an unfair advantage of having Edge being pre-installed in Windows 10.

Now, those little pop-ups and messages seemed to have calmed down a bit lately, and I was hoping that maybe Microsoft has learned its lesson. But if it does go ahead with changing people’s default search engines when they update Microsoft Office 356 ProPlus, then I fear the company hasn’t learned anything.

The bottom line is if Microsoft wants more people to use products like Edge and Bing, then rather than forcing people to use them, instead Microsoft should work hard to make those products better than the completion – so people willingly use those products, rather than being held hostage.

Microsoft has done better with its updates to Edge – but it’ll take a lot more to make me consider using Bing.

But tampering with my choices in an unrelated program just because I use another Microsoft product? I believe Spider-Man would agree that that goes against everything Uncle Ben stood for.

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