Windows 11 kills the easy way to change your default browser – Brave and Firefox fight back
Windows 11 is already rubbing some users the wrong way. The new operating system makes it difficult to change your default browser. Microsoft apparently doesn’t want to open an easy path for users to ditch Edge in favor of other rivals, but browsers like Brave and Firefox are fighting back.
As spotted by Ctrl Blog‘s Daniel Aleksandersen, the developer of the popular EdgeDeflector application (a program that forces Windows to use your default browser), Brave’s v1.30.86 The update resolves Microsoft’s Edge interception scheme using code influenced by EdgeDeflector. Firefox can do the same with a future update.
Brave and Firefox prepare to fight Microsoft Edge
Microsoft is replacing links in the Windows shell with “microsoft-edge:” instead of using “https:”, explained Aleksandersen. Edge is the only browser that recognizes these links, so even if your default browser is Google Chrome or Brave, the Edge browser opens instead.
EdgeDeflector recognizes this and deters Microsoft’s interception by rewriting them as “https:” links. Therefore, your default web browser opens instead. Brave used similar logic for their recent update. “You no longer need to install EdgeDeflector if you are using Brave as your default browser,” Aleksandersen said. “This will appear as an option when you click on a microsoft-edge: link.”
Interestingly, Brave also plans to redirect Windows search links (which lead to Bing) to users’ preferred search engine. However, Aleksandersen disagrees with that one. “It’s a bit disgusting because Brave Software benefits financially from directing more research to its search provider partners and its own Brave Search portal,” he said.
Brave is the first internet crawler to tackle Microsoft’s link hijacking ploy. Other browsers can follow in Brave’s footsteps. Firefox, for example, is in the process of implementing a similar edge deflection protocol, but it’s still under review at the time of writing.
It will be interesting to see how these browser wars unfold. I’m sure Microsoft will be unhappy with Brave if it manages to redirect Bing-based Windows search links – and the Redmond-based tech giant might not agree to this change. If so, I’ll be there with my popcorn watching Microsoft, Mozilla, Brave, Google and many more fight for our attention.