Windows 11 was in the news this year for many reasons, not all of which were positive. The recently released Windows Update, which was released last week, brings with it another undesirable change. It effectively removes Mozilla’s workaround of setting Firefox as the default web browser.
But we should have seen that coming. It all started when Windows 11 made it difficult to change the default apps, it required a few more clicks. The ignorant user does not know where to look for the setting and has to rely on Edge, not voluntarily but because they had no idea how to change the browser.
In September, Mozilla found a solution by reverse engineering the default apps protocol, which allows users to set Firefox as their default browser. So far so good, right. The workaround didn’t go unnoticed, and a Microsoft spokesman posted a statement on it The edge, which says that a fix will be released in a future Windows update to correct this incorrect redirect.
Soon afterwards, the developer of the open source program EdgeDeflector discovered a new problem. The Windows 11 build released at the time, Build 22494, changed the way file associations are handled. Its software could no longer intercept the Microsoft Edge: // links, which meant that the program could not be used to redirect the URLs from the Start menu search results to open them in the default browser.
This was Microsoft’s “fix”. Mozilla was not happy about this and shouted Foul again !. She was not alone in this. Microsoft’s antics caught the anger of many, and the founder of Vivaldi criticized Microsoft Edge’s practices as anti-competitive. Browser wars have never been nice, but Microsoft is just petty.
Windows Update prevents Mozilla’s workaround from setting Firefox as the default browser
A new build released in the Windows Insider Preview program simplifies things a bit, it allows you to change your default browser with a few clicks. This is not exactly the solution, but it is a bit easier for users compared to the previous options. Just when it looked like the situation was getting better, last week’s Windows Update caused confusion among users again. The news first reported by How to be geek, confirms Microsoft’s anti-consumer move.
Windows 11 is all about personalization, or so the promotions tell us, well, where’s the freedom for people to choose what they want? These are the personal decisions that count, not colorful animations and unusual glass backgrounds.
I’m not sure if that was the reason, but here is my theory as to why the change might be implied. You see, with the introduction of the Widgets panel in Windows 11, Microsoft has a curated newsfeed that the user can customize. The marketing around this feature is telling you that widgets will give you quick access to any information you want from the system tray. The problem here is that these links will open on the Widgets page in Microsoft Edge even if you’ve set a different browser as the default handler. More links mean more clicks, which in turn means more chances for users to switch to Edge.
Speaking of which, Edge will pester you with recommendations to set yourself as the default browser. The lack of options to conveniently set the default browser, the news mocking Chrome, Bing’s anti-competitive practices add to a long list of issues we’ve seen with the browser. Even the latest new feature in Edge, Buy Now, Pay Later, was controversial. I was wondering how Microsoft Edge will handle Manifest v3 once support for version 2 ends.
Microsoft went nuts and its forced changes are crying out for an antitrust investigation. It has happened before, and I wouldn’t be remotely surprised if the subject were brought up again in court.