back to article Rivals aren't convinced by Microsoft's one-click default browser change

Microsoft's one-click default browser change under Windows 11 is being met with raised eyebrows from its browser rivals. The app tweak was emitted in the most recent set of optional cumulative updates for Windows 11, replacing the painfully granular way in which users are required to switch from the Edge browser to something …

  1. Zippy´s Sausage Factory
    Flame

    Microsoft's behaviour with Edge shows that the Internet Explorer cases taught them only that you can just ignore any complaints about anti-competitive behaviour and just keep doing whatever you want because there's really no repercussions whatsoever.

    Time to split them up, like they should have done in the first place. Four companies this time: cloud services, Office, Windows and other software, and massive financial penalties if any of the four give preferential treatment to any of the other three.

    1. ShadowSystems Silver badge

      At Zippy...

      Can we split up the C-level executives too? I think they should all be drawn & quartered, but that may just be my Dried Frog Pills going TITSUP^ again. (^Total Inability To Support Unrealistic Practices.)

      1. hayzoos

        Re: At Zippy...

        Oh $DIETY, No! There will be four times as many of them! And stretched larger to boot.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      There are repercussions, the trouble is they are financial which for a multibillion dollar company are meaningless.

      The best course of action is to ban bundling browsers with operating systems full stop. Regardless of OS or browser. It’s the only fair way that prevents any fucking around with the rules.

      Same applies to tracking settings. Off by default unless a user seeks them out to enable them. That way we avoid the “click here if you accept that by not clicking over there you are agreeing to disagree to not be tracked while swinging a squirrel above your head” bullshit that everyone’s granny falls for.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        No Browsers?

        So if you ban bundling of browsers with the O/S how home users install a browser on a new machine?

        1. ricegf
          Linux

          Re: No Browsers?

          choco install brave --pre

          brew cask install brave

          sudo apt install brave-browser

          For Windows, Mac, and Ubuntu-family Linux, respectively. The web isn't the Internet.

        2. Someone Else Silver badge
          Holmes

          Re: No Browsers?

          The OS purveyors could write a little applet that can be clicked on to as the user what browser(s) s/he'd like to have installed on the machine, and said applet could then download and install the chosen one(s).

          As was stated above: the Web is not the Internet. (See icon.)

          Hell, Micros~1 could even write the applet in Visual Basic!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: No Browsers?

            @Someone Else

            That sounds like a good idea. You mean something like this?

            https://www.theregister.com/2010/02/19/microsoft_browser_screen/

            I remember at the time Opera stating that their numbers were boosted by it, perhaps the EU should tell them to put it back again.

            1. Roland6 Silver badge

              Re: No Browsers?

              Even better ask the EU to add ones for al the other stuff MS wishes to bundle that compete with third-party products: Office, Media Player, PDF reader... Windows...

  2. VoiceOfTruth

    Browsers

    Vivaldi is not a bad browser. It's built-in email client is a bit more friendly than Apple's Mail.

    Firefox is not very good. Thunderbird is a joke. If the people who developed Firefox and Thunderbird stopped having big ideas and instead concentrated on making a good browser and a good email program, they might end up with better products. I encountered this bug personally: https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=647761. As far as I know this bug still exists making Thunderbird unusable for me. I don't recommend either Firefox or Thunderbird.

    Opera, what's the point these days as it is Chrome with some different bells and whistles?

    SafarI? Well I use it, mainly because it is not Chrome.

    Chrome? I use that too, mainly because it works.

    Edge? I recall trying it for a few minutes, but was perturbed at how many outbound connections it was making all by itself, so it went into the crusher.

    1. Wade Burchette

      Re: Browsers

      Two reasons why Firefox is a good browser:

      (1) It supports the NoScript add-on, which allows me to tame websites that try to load 5, 10, or even 20 scripts each from a different website, which in turn allows websites to load so much faster and protect my privacy and security due to malvertising.

      (2) See reason 1.

      1. SundogUK Silver badge

        Re: Browsers

        Pale Moon also still supports NoScript even though the boss doesn't like it much.

        1. thosrtanner

          Re: Browsers

          Only a very old version of noscript though, which causes github to break :-(

        2. SundogUK Silver badge

          Re: Browsers

          Crap. Not anymore.

    2. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: Browsers

      The biggest advantage for Firefox, Safari and Opera is that they aren't Chrome or based on Chrome. Don't hand Google a browser monopoly.

      That would be even worse for consumers than when Microsoft effectively had one for a few years!

      1. VoiceOfTruth

        Re: Browsers

        -> Don't hand Google a browser monopoly.

        Agreed in principle. Firefox needs to be a better browser.

        1. EnviableOne Silver badge

          Re: Browsers

          the problem is Mozillas single biggest source of funding is Google (Paid Search app preference)

    3. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      Re: Browsers

      I tried Vivaldi, based on recommendations here. Some aspects were quite nice, but I ditched it after a week because using it was such a pain in the arse and because it wouldn't play nice with several websites I need to use, like my banks' (plural). It's very much like Opera always was - perpetually in beta before they got round to usability.

    4. NoneSuch Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: Browsers

      I use Brave as my daily driver with DuckDuckGo as my search engine. Based on Chromium, but no Google hooks. Blocks lots of the crap automatically and I have granular control over what it does run. Plus, it has a decent Dark Mode.

      I run Google search and my work Gmail accounts in Chrome for browser separation. Everything else is in Brave.

      Give it a shot.

      There is no reason why any MS software cannot be uninstalled. Their 'hard wiring' of Edge, Cortana, Bing and all the other data slurping software is designed to make them money and screw your personal privacy. Windows is spyware on a grand scale with its legality enforced because you clicked acceptance to their ToS.

      Anyone doing what MS did independently would be hunted like a dog by the FBI and jailed indefinitely in a SuperMax.

      "The only way to win is not to play." War Games, 1983.

    5. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

      Re: Browsers

      I love Vivaldi, personally. The email is a bit brutal but I do like it. Like you, I gave up on Thunderbird, not so much because I've found problems but just because it seems to be trying to do so much in the same program it's just silly. (Still not found anything half as good as my old Psion or Lotus Organizer, either).

      Brave is nice but not too bad. I use it mainly for my RSS reader as it is a bit more hardcore about blocking trackers and so on.

      Safari I still use for my online banking (and nothing else) because the banks seem to be a bit dim.

      Chrome I use for testing websites for work. And sometimes Edge, if I can stand it.

  3. Binraider Silver badge

    If one had control, then Edge wouldn't mysteriously make itself the default PDF viewer in lieu of at least three other preferred applications.

    It's almost as though there should be something in the OS and desktop API to govern such decisions rather than applications seizing opportunities to place themselves as the defaults time and time again.

    And when commercial software vendors allow for that I'll eat my hat. The ship has long since sailed. Alternatives exist, use them. If enough people leave then commercial outfits will have to actually consider providing service again rather than monetising themselves...

    1. marcellothearcane
      Thumb Down

      Edge nagging

      Just this morning I had yet another popup asking if I wanted to reset my PDF viewer to Edge when I tried to open one.

  4. Unicornpiss
    Meh

    Infuriating

    What really irks me about switching from Edge is the dialog prompting you to "Check it out" when you change the default, adding an extra pandering step to the process. And Bing search is like the person that always needs the punchline of a joke painfully explained to them.

    For the person that hates Firefox, I'll admit I wish it was a bit more stable. But its feature set well outclasses Chrome IMO. And it often works with sites that are cranky with other browsers, or at least manages to give you a detailed error message as to why it's misbehaving.

    1. Electronics'R'Us Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Condescending messages

      At my current $EMPLOYER, we have both Teams and Skype (I know, I know...)

      I have to start Teams before Lookout (other terms are available) because it makes itself the default messaging application for Office but then I cannot see others status (as set in Skype) in emails so that check box gets unchecked. (I disable autostart as it tries to connect to the teams server before I have an actual connection as I work remotely to a great extent).

      Great interoperability there...

      Teams also gives me the message:

      You're all set. Enjoy using Teams! Condescending asshats.

      Until the latest update it would also start edge (ack) and connect to Microsoft when I started a Teams meeting even though we are using a local server.

      1. marcellothearcane

        Re: Condescending messages

        Also using Teams, and it was probably just last week that they finally allowed a right-click "reply" option on messages.

        Absolutely no reason for it not to be there since it works in Edge Chrome, they're just anti-competitively disabling features.

      2. Unicornpiss
        Meh

        Re: Condescending messages

        Teams, while better than Skype in myriad ways, also 'grinds my gears'. When you install it, it has to launch itself, make itself maximized, and then pop up a bunch of annoying internal help messages and suggestions that must be dismissed before you can get to the settings or use it.

        And if you're logging in with an admin acct. to do some maintenance on a machine with the Teams 'machine-wide installer' on it, it pops up all over your screen like a rash. So much so that I (probably passive-aggressively) made a simple script to kill it and remove the autostart entry from the registry.

        And why can't the damn app use the system's global audio settings properly? Almost every freeware app that does audio manages this, but often Teams must be tinkered with before if manages to use your headset or other default device. Better than the old Skype for sure, but how does Microsoft manage to get their own apps to perform so badly on their own OS when other companies get ti right? I suppose because they have less incentive, having the monopoly.

    2. Peter2 Silver badge

      Re: Infuriating

      I used Firefox since before it hit version 1.0, directly and indirectly I must have been responsible for moving thousands of people onto Firefox at work, and probably therefore at home also, especially in the days where IE6 was the mainstream competition.

      Now to start with, I could deal with all of the extensions being broken for a month or so every new version, since it happened like once a year.

      Then some prat decided to try and increment version numbers as quickly as possible for no benefit to the end user, and it got to extensions being broken for a month every six weeks, which was just intolerable. You could however somewhat deal with this by moving to the ESR release.

      What got me in the end was the fool in charge of the GUI maintaining a determined personal vendetta against the Firefox userbase. In the early days, the main reason for using Firefox was choice. You could set things up how you wanted and if you didn't like it then you could get an extension to change even the core functionality. Personally, I was quite happy with the user experience that I had in version one, with some minor tweaks and a few extensions.

      Then there was an increasingly determined push to involuntarily force everybody using Firefox to have a web browser that looked like a dodgy clone of Chrome. After fighting to keep the form of UI I wanted for some time to the point that I was having to make developer level changes to my version of Firefox the developers eventually succeeded in eradicating the same user experience that i'd been using quite happily for a decade or so.

      At this point I said "fuck it" and switched to fork of Firefox, and then to Chrome once that fork became basically unusable. Firefox has deteriorated to the point that it'd just become an bad copy of Chrome with chronic reliability and compatibility issues.

      Do I hate Firefox? Not in the least. Like most former users I pity it, and how it's potential was squandered and look on how it's userbase was literally chased away by it's own developers with considerable bemusement.

      Unhappily, the nature of volunteer staffed projects like Firefox is that nobody wants to work on the boring bits like hunting down bugs and just keeping it incrementally supported under the hood in the long term. They all want to do Pretty New Stuff.

      Still, if not for Firefox then we'd still be using IE6 so it performed it's task in providing choice in web browsers. A new challenger will doubtlessly come along in time to displace Chrome from it's current pedestal as the pre-eminent web browser.

      1. RobThBay

        Re: Infuriating

        I switched to the ESR version a couple years ago because I was also getting tired of stupid "improvements & shiny new features".

        A recent "improvement" that appeared in the ESR version replaced the always useful print preview with something that hides all the options (which pages, how many copies,etc) in new & improved submenus.

      2. Ian Johnston Silver badge

        Re: Infuriating

        I have now discovered that the bug which makes Firefox intensely irritating for me is down to Xubuntu, not Firefox. The Xubuntu people have decided that Firefox updates are "essential security ones", which are automatic by default, and have therefore disabled any choice about updates in their version of Firefox.

        That's why the damn thing tended to stop doing whatever it was doing and demand a restart without giving any opportunity to save work in open tabs. Un-automating essential security updates works round the problem, which Xubuntu does not consider a bug.

        That said, I agree completely about Firefox developers. They are not quite as bad at the GNOME ones, but only in the sense the dengue fever is not quite as bad as ebola.

        1. David 132 Silver badge

          Re: Infuriating

          While I get the point that people should keep software patched and up to date... this increasing insistence by OS and application vendors that we should drop everything and interrupt our workflow NOW to install their patches is driving me insane.

          Yes, patching is becoming easier and more frictionless. But it still requires, at minimum, closing and reopening the browser or other application, and all too often, a full reboot (Microsoft, looking at YOU).

          And I venture to suggest that the mere fact that patching is now "so easy for the end user" is itself encouraging developers to be slipshod and lazy. The prevailing attitude now seems to be "well, it doesn't matter if we screw up, we'll just push a patch out and block anyone who's using the old version from connecting to our service...". Few things are more infuriating than opening Firefox, or booting up Windows, or switching on a games console, in a hurry to get something done, only to be confronted with a faux-cheery "please wait while we install updates! this shouldn't take more than twenty minutes or so! have a nice day :) !"

          Is that better, or worse, than the old days, when it was a case of "have to get this right, because if we screw up then we'll end up having to recall and reflash ROMs / mail a bajillion floppy disks out to our customers"?

          1. ecofeco Silver badge

            Re: Infuriating

            Customers as beta tester became a derisive joke for a reason a long time ago.

            We knew it would get worse. And here we are.

  5. badflorist

    "While they have made an attempt, the fact that it has been done the way it has leads to the assumption that it is only being done to avoid being prosecuted for anticompetitive behavior, not to actually solve the underlying problem."

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Default apps ?

    We're messing around with Win11, and early reports are that the default app mechanism is (and I quote) "well fucked up".

  7. andrewmm

    Windows as a service !!

    Wait a few years,

    and windows 365

    windows as a service,

    you'll y every year to rent a OS from Microsoft,

    and have to use the tools they want you to use...

    1. Someone Else Silver badge

      Re: Windows as a service !!

      Who is this "you" you're referring to?

      I personally don't expect to be "renting" my Mint installation from anyone...anytime.

  8. Philip Stott

    The Most Down Voted Post Ever

    Has anyone tried Edge lately (within the last six months or so)?

    IMHO it's not a bad browser anymore, once you switch off Bing as the default search engine.

    I particularly liked a feature I didn't know about where I recently ordered something online and Edge surfaced a little message saying "There's a voucher code for this" which saved me £10 off just a £50 order.

    1. MrDamage Silver badge

      Re: The Most Down Voted Post Ever

      That only tells me that you value you put on your privacy is ten quid.

      1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

        Re: The Most Down Voted Post Ever

        "Privacy", like "liberty", is one of those vague terms which those who use never seem bothered to define.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The Most Down Voted Post Ever

        it also tells that MS value his privacy at more than ten quid...

    2. david 12 Silver badge

      Re: The Most Down Voted Post Ever

      The thing I hate most about Edge, is Google asking me every f-g time if I wouldn't rather use Chrome.

      1. Graham 32

        Re: The Most Down Voted Post Ever

        I see that as a reason to hate Google, not Edge.

    3. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      Re: The Most Down Voted Post Ever

      I have Edge for Linux installed (that feels weird) and although it is not my default browser I have found that it cheerfully deals with sites which others won't. For example, Firefox can't cope with the EasyJet booking system (even with cookies cleared) but Edge romps through it. So yes, it seems like a pretty good browser to me.

      1. Colin Bull 1
        Unhappy

        Easyjet

        Sadly I cannot be arsed to faff around the problem so I have installed Brave just for the easyet website otherwise It id Firefox. But yes, the stupidity of having to reboot browser whatever the number of tabs you have open is stupid. I thought Linux apps were better than this.

        1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

          Re: Easyjet

          I'm quite relieved to hear that someone else has found that Firefox won;t play with EasyJet ... I was expecting loads of people to say "it works fine for me". Perhaps they'll be along soon.

          The reboot nonsense is - see above - because the Xubuntu developers have decided to treat Firefox as if it were part of the OS. I wish they wouldn't do that. I'm happy for them to push out updates to the OS and normally I'll happily install them automatically, but I want to decide when to update apps.

          1. Someone Else Silver badge

            Re: Easyjet

            I have encountered several sites that Firefox doesn't seem to want to play nice with. Somebody suggested that I use the Open in Private Window feature. That has solved the problem (for me, anyway) on all these recalcitrant sites. And the Private Window version allows me to engage NoScript and other plug-ins as well (so no, Mr./Mrs. WebProgrammerSurrogate, its not my security plugins that is keeping me from displaying your vaunted website!)

            I have noticed that some recent updates of Firefox have allowed their "normal" browser to work on some of these sites. But yes, it is a PITA that one has to go through this, and the Mozilla folks should spend a few developer cycles on figuring out why this is, and fixing it. But I find this is an acceptable workaround for now. YMMV, of course....

    4. Nick Sticks

      Re: The Most Down Voted Post Ever

      If Edge is so good (in the last 6 months or otherwise) why does MS think it has to badger, force or trick people into using it?

      It should be the other way round, make a good browser and people will actually want to use it.

      Whether it's any good or not I won't use it because of the above and even if they change it would take a long time for me to trust them.

      1. Craig 2

        Re: The Most Down Voted Post Ever

        "make a good browser and people will actually want to use it."

        Is that how Chrome actually gained dominance? Yes, it was good and quick and clean in the beginning, but boy, didn't they shove it down your throat every way possible... Google definitely used their (almost) search monopoly to massively push Chrome.

        1. FIA Silver badge

          Re: The Most Down Voted Post Ever

          This...

          All you have to do is install a piece of software older than about 8 years to be reminded that they all came with Chrome....

          It'd also helpfully install in your user folder too, just so corporate IT didn't have to worry about it.. :)

    5. RobMo

      Re: The Most Down Voted Post Ever

      Edge is a good browser imo, which in many ways makes Microsoft’s efforts to cajole and beg you to use it worse for me. Why not just focus that effort on making a good product even better, then having faith in your hard work.

    6. marcellothearcane

      Re: The Most Down Voted Post Ever

      It's just Chrome with Microsoft icons, so essentially 70% of browser users have used it.

    7. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: The Most Down Voted Post Ever

      I have to use Edge as my company browser. It does the job, but not my preference.

  9. msobkow Silver badge

    Another reason not to upgrade yet, if ever. Maybe I'll just let my Windows 10 box get reinstalled with Ubuntu instead of going to the effort...

    Even a good chunk of my game collection will run on Ubuntu decently nowadays. About the only thing I need Windows for is Quickbooks Desktop, and if I could get that to run under Wine, I'd be golden. Most of my real work is on Ubuntu VMs anyhow.

    Granted there is one task I'm working on right now because my host is Windows, and there is only one other fellow with such a setup on the team. Everyone else is running pure Ubuntu stacks from top to bottom. Kinda hard to develop Windows-specific clients without Windows, eh?

  10. Big_Boomer

    Edge is Default,.... again!!

    Why does Win10 keep on making Edge the default every time there is a Windows update? Effing PITA! As someone stated it also sets Edge as the default PDF reader. Somebody needs to give MS a severe kick in the happy-sacks and keep doing it until they stop their constant overriding of user choices. If I wasn't just a few years from retirement I'd get out of the Windows ecosystem entirely.

    1. 42656e4d203239 Bronze badge

      Re: Edge is Default,.... again!!

      >>If I wasn't just a few years from retirement I'd get out of the Windows ecosystem entirely.

      Well when you retire you can firmly kick them where they deserve.... assuming that it is $WORK that insists you stick with them.

  11. Zebo-the-Fat

    Been using Vivaldi for the last 2 or 3 years, never had a problem with it, if it workes why change?

  12. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    But you have a choice

    Just create a registry key for the IP address of each websites you want windows to open in an alternative browser - how much more choice could you have ?

    1. Someone Else Silver badge

      Re: But you have a choice

      Is there a <sarcasm> tag in there somewhere I missed?

      The Joke Alert icon is your friend...

      1. hayzoos

        Re: But you have a choice

        I do believe you have your sarcasm detection sensitivity turned down a little too far.

  13. DF118

    Daily

    On my work-issued laptop (which, being an IT device is in the pilot ring for patching) Windows Update resets my default apps almost daily. It's insane. How anyone who isn't stubborn is supposed to keep up with that level of persistent malware-like behaviour is beyond me.

    I say "malware-like" because it even resets my default mail app from Outlook back to Windows Mail, which suggests more than a modicum of shitbrained incompetence as opposed to outright malicious intent.

    1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Daily

      I forget how I did it, but I set it up so we imported a set of defaults on the initial setup, so that when we signed in as the user(s) new accounts we didn't have to re-answer all the default apps prompts on every machine we set up.

      Icon - I deserve many a beer for that trick.

  14. Lorribot

    one rule to apply to all (OSes)

    Is it possible to use any browser on a chrome book/MacOS/Android//iOS/iPadOS/Linux? Is there a pop for that? Anyone tried?

    Oh of course not because everyone has chosen to send all their data and life to Google because they once said do no evil was their thing, until they beat Microsoft, now it they don't need to (even pretend to) care.

    They are all rubbish and get away with it because we don't want to pay or put a bit of effort in. MS had to unpick around 33 Google services from Chromium and replace them with their, mainly so the browser would still work. Do you really think those small Chromium based browser did all that too?

    Would you pay for a browser that complied with all standards and didn't send you data to any one, or even actively stopped websites stealling your data, automatically enforced minimal cookie usage. Yes? How much per year is that worth to you?

  15. Kev99 Silver badge

    Too bad the fed got bought off by mictosoft when it was trying to get internet explorer unbundled.

    The only reason I edge on my machine is because it's the only browser that will let my wife enter all the HGTV sweeps. I was using it at work to play accuradio but it would kill the stream without asking and I'd have to restart. I don't care for chrome or edge as they both umpteen instances ranging from a few hundred KM to dozens of MBs.

    Oh for the days when browsers (and certain OSes) were not data stealing, money grubbbbing, overbloated POS.

  16. BGatez

    uninstall

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arH3ztMTB9Q&t=204s

  17. ThinkingMonkey

    Surely an easier way...

    Not defending Microsoft in any way, just remarking on something that was mentioned in the article: Instead of drilling down and down through Settings to find file types and what programs open those file type extensions (which the next MS update will change back anyway), I've always found it vastly easier to make a fake text file on the Desktop with the desired file extension (say "test.html"), right-click on it, select Open With, Select Another App, select my desired app, and make sure there's a checkmark in "Always use this app...". Maybe I'm missing something but that's how I've always set default programs in Windows, in cases where more than one program is installed that can potentially open the same file type. (Notepad, Notepad++, Word, and LibreOffice Writer for .txt files, for example)

    Yes, the point of the article was that non-techy users may not be very aware of how to change defaults using ANY method but I'd just like to throw my caveman-style method out there so anyone interested that hasn't done it that way may give it a try.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Surely an easier way...

      Your solution works for some file types, however, for others such as media players, its a very poor solution and for others like modern browsers that are really containerised OS's with a set of bundled app's a non-starter.

      One of the things that irritates me, is how Edge thinks it is a better PDF reader than a dedicated application like Adobe, Foxit et al. so constantly asks if I would like to reset my defaults to Edge...

  18. hayzoos

    It's too hard!!!

    Wow, just wow. The producers of modern web browsers (nearly as, neigh, as complex as an OS) cannot programatically change all settings associated with default browser?

    I am not in any way defending Microsoft for making the process as complex as possible.

    Something is odd that Google is not prominent or even present in the list of complainants. Maybe not.

  19. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Joke

    Cortana:

    Vivaldi's Von Tetzchner at the time took the company to task over what he described as "anticompetitive practices."

    Cortana: What are "anticompetitive practices"?

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