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Microsoft may soon let Windows 11 users bypass Edge as the default browser

Microsoft may soon let Windows 11 users bypass Edge as the default browser

A new Windows 11 build allows users to set browsers other than Edge as the default, but the new feature is only available to users of Microsoft's Insider program.

Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft appears to have listened to users who were concerned about a Windows 11 build that thwarted a third-party workaround that allowed them to set their default browser to something other than Edge.

The change has not yet been rolled out to the current stable version of Windows 11; it’s being offered to users of Microsoft’s Insider program in the Dev Channel for developers.

In its latest blog on Windows 11 Build 22509, Microsoft credited feedback from users for the changes. Microsoft described the changes as "improvements that make browsing the web in Microsoft Edge with Narrator easier."

"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.," Aaron Woodman, vice president of Windows Marketing wrote in an email reply to Computerworld. "Through the Windows Insider Program you will continue to see us try new things based on customer feedback and testing."

This latest Build change was spotted by Raphael Rivera on Twitter, and first reported by online publication Betanews.

Last month, the creator of EdgeDeflector, a free workaround to enable third-party browsers as a default setting on Windows machines, complained that Windows 11 Build (22494) pushed a user to set Edge as their browser by bringing up links as microsoft-edge:https://.

“These aren’t the actions of an attentive company that cares about its product anymore. Microsoft isn’t a good steward of the Windows operating system,” Daniel Aleksandersen, who created the free EdgeDeflector app four years ago, wrote in a blog post.

According Aleksandersen, about 500,000 people use EdgeDeflector, a relatively small number compared to the 1.3 billion systems running Windows 10. Windows 11 was rolled out October 5 and is currently on up to 8.9 per cent of PCs, according to metrics supplier AdDuplex.

The latest Windows 11 Build (22509), released December 1, also introduces "a good set of improvements, including new layout options for Start, clock and date will now show on secondary monitors, and Settings changes," Microsoft said in its blog.

Typically, a system uses whatever browser is set as the default in order to bring up https:// links. The latest Windows 11 build (22494), however, appears to push a user to set Edge as their browser by bringing up links as microsoft-edge:https://.

In other words, the Microsoft’s earlier build updated the Windows 11 Preview to block any attempts to redirect some URLs away from the Edge browser.

The Windows Insider program offers three channels for early adopters: a Dev Channel where new features are introduced for initial testing; a Beta Channel, where more complete features are included for final testing (best for users who want the most stable builds); and a Program Release Preview channel for testing cumulative updates. After feedback from the Insider community, Microsoft may modify, keep, or remove updates.


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