Windows 11 still has plenty of wrinkles to iron out before it is ready for general consumption, expected sometime in October. However, something more serious than a mere wrinkle might have been spotted by The Verge, which asserts that "Microsoft's upcoming release of Windows 11 will make it even harder to switch default browsers and ignores browser defaults in new areas of the operating system". The big question seems to be: is this a bug or a feature?
One of the changes in the way Windows 11 works is in setting default apps. Installing a new browser presents the dialogue below during first run only, says The Verge. If you don't choose your preference mindfully, and check that extra box for 'always use this app' you won't be prompted again in the current Windows 11 beta release.
If you miss the above, it is reported that you can still change defaults but you will have to labour through changing all the common browser file types individually – files with extensions or data types such as HTM, HTML, PDF, SHTML, SVG, WEBP, XHT, XHTML, FTP, HTTP, and HTTPS. In contrast, Windows 10 allows users to switch default email, maps, music, photos, videos, and web browser apps quickly.
In further tests by The Verge, it was found Mozilla has already done something which lets its Firefox browser reclaim the browser preferences in one shot, but the likes of Chrome, Opera, Vivaldi, and Brave needed the presence of mind to change and confirm at first ask or fiddle through multiple file associations later. On the topic of this 'fiddly' level of control, Microsoft says users have requested customisation and control on a more granular level.
Statements garnered from Mozilla, Google, Opera and Vivaldi execs, make 'alternative browser' developer worries clear. SVP of Firefox, Selena Deckelmann, told the Verge that "additional and unnecessary steps to set and retain their default browser settings… are confusing at best and seem designed to undermine a user’s choice for a non-Microsoft browser". Google's head of Android, Chrome, and Chrome OS, Hiroshi Lockheimer, commented that "I hope this is just a developer preview thing, and the shipping version of Windows 11 lives up to their [open choice] claims."
Google's annoying pop-up, sometimes seen when visiting its web properties using browsers other than Chrome.
In Windows 10, Microsoft has received flak for ignoring default browser choices in its search experience, and similar behaviour has been observed in the recently introduced news/weather widget.
Other Microsoft and Windows news
New features continue to be showcased, ready for the big Windows 11 release. Last week, HEXUS highlighted the new Snipping Tool, Calculator, and Mail & Calendar in the latest Beta. A few hours ago, Microsoft's Panos Panay teased the introduction of a "beautifully redesigned Paint app".
Here’s another @Windows 11 first look. This is the beautifully redesigned Paint app, coming soon to Windows Insiders. Can’t wait to see your creations! #Windows11 #WindowsInsiders pic.twitter.com/jiKyfqQFUV— Panos Panay (@panos_panay) August 18, 2021
In other Microsoft news, the Translator App has gained language region support. For English, that means you can pick from American, British, Australian, or others.