Microsoft Does the Bare Minimum, Is Testing a Way to Set a Default Browser

Mary Jo Foley, ZDNet:

Microsoft has been doing its best to force Windows 11 users to stick with its own Edge browser by making switching from it as difficult as possible. But there’s hope the company may do the right thing and stop this nonsense.

The latest Windows 11 Dev Channel test build released earlier this week, Build 22509, has a new browser Set default button, as discovered by Microsoft watcher Rafael Rivera. If and when this new button makes it into the commercially available Windows 11 release, users will again have a cleaner and simpler way to select a browser other than Edge.

It is not like Microsoft accidentally stumbled into the current chaotic browser selector. It made a choice to build something radically different than the Windows 10 picker. All it had to do is avoid user-hostile interactions, but Microsoft deliberately made changes in that direction anyway.

If it ships, this change is for the better. But we should not forget how much negative coverage was required for Microsoft to act, and I bet current antitrust climate helped. Good. Platform owners should be scared to make changes like this, and the pressure should be maintained until Microsoft reverts its other dark patterns. The web only exists through web browsers so it is important to encourage competition.