Microsoft's browser rivals aren't happy after it made switching defaults easier

Microsoft Edge browser on laptop
(Image credit: / monticello)

Microsoft's rivals have hit back against the company's recent change to its stance on picking a default browser

The company that got into so much trouble in the 1990s for trying to squeeze rivals made an interesting change with Windows 11: obscuring the option to change the default browser, limiting it to only technically capable users and the very motivated. 

Anyone using Windows 10 could easily change the default with a single click, something that a lot of people did. But that all changed for anyone updating to Microsoft's latest OS. 

All change

While Edge isn't a bad browser, making it the default and then hiding the settings to change that does kind of stink, a point made loudly by its rivals. 

Microsoft even took it a step further and began funnelling links from its services, including the Start Menu, into Edge as well. 

All of that changed in a recent update, however, when Microsoft reintroduced an easy one-click process for changing the default - but instead of being pleased, some of the biggest names in the browser market have now hit back.

Old grudges, widely held

Speaking to The Register, Microsoft's rivals were still not happy with the company and its attempts to make Edge into a dominant browser.

"It has always been our stance that Microsoft, and others like them, should make it easy for users to choose to use the products that suit them," said Vivaldi CEO Jon von Tetzchner. "This should apply to all users, not just the ones who are technically competent enough to realize that they need to install an optional update, and know how to actually do so. It should be installed for all users." 

"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."

Mozilla, which actually found a way around the changes, was similarly critical.

"People should have the ability to simply and easily set defaults and all operating systems should offer official developer support for default status," the company said.

"In practice, we'd like to also see progress on reducing the number of steps required to set a new browser as default, and on opening and making APIs available for apps to set default that other Microsoft applications use."

Max Slater-Robins has been writing about technology for nearly a decade at various outlets, covering the rise of the technology giants, trends in enterprise and SaaS companies, and much more besides. Originally from Suffolk, he currently lives in London and likes a good night out and walks in the countryside.