Mozilla calls on Microsoft to 'respect default browser choice on Windows'

Firefox 2021 Browser Pc
Firefox 2021 Browser Pc (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft recently made it easier to change the default browser on Windows 11.
  • Mozilla calls the move a "step in the right direction" but says more can be done.
  • Mozilla asked Microsoft to give developers access to more APIs related to default browser settings.

Earlier this month, Microsoft rolled out an optional cumulative update for Windows 11 that made it easier to change the default browser on PCs. Previously, people had to manually change the default setting for every file and link type, which could require dozens of steps to accomplish. Following the recent update to Windows 11, people can set their preferences for more than one link and file type with a single click.

Mozilla, the makers of the Firefox browser, said that the move is a "step in the right direction" by Microsoft but that more can be done to "respect default browser choice on Windows." The company calls on improvements for both end-users and developers when it comes to setting a default browser.

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

I installed Firefox on a PC running the latest version of Windows 11 and set the browser as our default by following a prompt within Firefox. This swapped the default browser for the PC to Firefox for quite a few file and link types, but not all of them. For example, AVIF, PDF, and WEBP were all still set to other applications. When clicking to change the remaining file and link types to Firefox, I was shown a message discussing Edge before I could confirm the change.

It's important to note that reversing the process and setting Edge as my default browser leaves the settings for the same link and file types unchanged. It appears that even setting your browser to Microsoft Edge does not change all of your defaults on Windows 11.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).

13 Comments
  • "People should have the ability to simply and easily set defaults.."
    This is not what Mozilla are wanting at all. If this was the case, within their own browser they'd have an option to select the default browser of any installed on the system when it first loaded AND have the option within the browser easily accessible. No, what they want is the API so that when someone accidently installs another browser when it's bundled with bloatware software, that that's now the default browser and the user has to dig through several hoops and websites trying to get their regular browser back. If they're given access to so called API to set defaults, then they need to also be a provider of offering alternative installed browsers to become default. If every browser offered that instead of the OS, then no one would feel left out, be it developers or end users. Then we'd see what company is most transparent about trying to lock in it's users.
  • "If this was the case, within their own browser they'd have an option to select the default browser of any installed on the system when it first loaded" That doesn't follow at all. Why would anyone feel the need to set some browser to the default while in a different browser? If Edge was my default browser and I wanted Chrome to be the default, I wouldn't set it in Firefox. That's nonsensical and not something that any other type of software does. Being able to set any default within Windows and being able to set the current browser as the default within that browser makes sense and that is what Mozilla is asking for. That said, from what others have said, Mozilla don't make it easy to set defaults within Firefox, e.g. the search provider, so it does seem like they want to hold Microsoft to a higher standard than they hold themselves.
  • I think Android 11 (or at least Android on the Duo, not sure if that's standard Android 11 or the MS flavor) strikes a reasonable balance on this (but it could be cleaner): apps that want to change a setting can send the user to the relevant setting, but can't change it themselves. That seems right -- make it easy for the user to change if desired with a standard recognizable interface, but don't let apps change, because that opens up to all kinds of malware changing defaults or settings w/o user granting explicit permission for each such change.
  • I think you are exactly right
  • I mean it's not that hard to do. Mozilla could build their own operating system if they want to be up front and center.
  • Perhaps Mozilla would like to explain why they don't respect my default search engine choice when I install Firefox on a new device and sign in, or why they so frequently push their "refresh Firefox" prompt if you haven't used the browser in a while, which (if accepted) does the same.
  • Edge is brilliant now, I don't see a reason to use any other. But I do understand the right to choose. I choose Edge on my phone as well.
  • There is a right to choose but iOS, android, Mac os, chrome ect all have their own default browsers why is it only Microsoft that get the flack?
  • On Windows 11 we can now set the default browser in one click, and browsers can prompt users to set it in one click. Yet Mozilla doesn't exactly have the easiest one click solution to switching away from Google services when I install Firefox. I know they get billions of dollars in bribes to set Google defaults, so if Mozilla are harping on companies for not doing enough to make it easier to switch from defaults, maybe they should practice what they preach.
  • The new button does not change nearly as many protocols or defaults as the old windows 10 version.
  • "making APIs available for apps to set default that other Microsoft applications use" There are APIs - Microsoft should not have to hold Mozilla's hand. They should properly set the file and protocol associations for their software. The APIs to do this have existed since 1993 when NT was released. Either the person from Mozilla talking is clueless or they are trying to confused people and make it seem like Microsoft is the problem. The only restrictions on setting associations were security minded, which is good when malware likes to put a fake wrapper around browsers. Even with this in mind, Mozilla could still properly set the default associations for users.
  • Before asking too much for Microsoft maybe Mozilla need to get f*ck off and told themself to fix their Firefox browser which is trash now? Seriously, Mozilla Firefox are so trash now, it runs terrible with CPU usage being high, RAM usage almost on par with google chrome but with terrible website compatiblity too. Not to mention since Firefox working together with google to bring google ads which is straight slap in their face after telling people that their company is "focused on privacy". Good thing i already move from firefox since Edge Chromium alpha version released, i really don't miss anything from firefox at all, even if microsoft makes it hard to changes default browser or not it doesn't affects me at all.
  • I don’t think that is why people aren’t using Firefox. They just don’t have any other services, so you have very little reason to use their browser too.