Windows 11 lets you choose your default browser, but it takes a lot of clicks and Microsoft sometimes forces you to use Edge, anyway. Firefox had a workaround, but Microsoft calls it “improper” and will soon block it.
The upcoming Windows Update won’t block you from changing the default browser in Windows 11. The patch will force links using the microsoft-edge protocol to always open in Edge. These are specific links opened through Windows 11, such as those directly from the taskbar’s search feature. Firefox’s workaround and EdgeDeflector made it so these links would still open in your default browser. Microsoft is about to roll out an update that disables this workaround, calling it “improper” on Mozilla’s part
Microsoft made a statement to The Verge where it explained the logic behind its decision.
“Windows openly enables applications and services on its platform, including various web browsers,” says a Microsoft spokesperson. “At the same time, Windows also offers certain end-to-end customer experiences in both Windows 10, and Windows 11, the search experience from the taskbar is one such example of an end-to-end experience that is not designed to be redirected. When we become aware of improper redirection, we issue a fix.”
Firefox spoke out about Microsoft’s decision. “People deserve choice. They should have the ability to and easily set defaults, and their choice of default browser should be respected,” says a Mozilla spokesperson in a statement to The Verge. “We have worked on code that launches Firefox when the microsoft-edge protocol is used for those users that have already chosen Firefox as their default browser. Following the recent change to Windows 11, this planned implementation will no longer be possible.”
As you might expect, the developer of EdgeDeflector isn’t thrilled, as outlined in a blog post. “Microsoft isn’t a good steward of the Windows operating system. They’re prioritizing ads, bundleware, and service subscriptions over their users’ productivity,” developer Daniel Aleksandersen said.
“The 500,000 EdgeDeflector users were probably never more than a nuisance to Microsoft,” said Aleksandersen. “However, last month both the Brave and Firefox web browsers either copied EdgeDeflector’s functionality or signaled it was on the roadmap.”
We’re surprised Microsoft is going about things this way, as a choice like this could be considered anti-competitive, which is an issue the company has dealt with in the past. We’ll have to wait and see how this plays out in the future, but it makes Edge look bad, which is a shame because it’s not a terrible browser at all.