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posted by martyb on Friday August 20 2021, @12:46PM   Printer-friendly
from the tigers-never-change-their-stripes dept.

Windows 11 Is Making It Absurdly Difficult to Change Browsers
In a page ripped right out of the '90s, Microsoft reminds us that it's still engaging in the browser wars.

[....] there have been plenty of chances to dive into the OS to see what's next from Microsoft. And there's evidence of the same old story. Namely, Microsoft wants to make it hard for you to use a browser that isn't Edge.

The Verge reports on how convoluted the new process is to change the default browser in Windows 11. Like in Windows 10, you'll get a prompt when you click on a web link asking you to choose an app. But unless you specifically tell the system that you'd like to switch browsers, it will assume you're okay with Microsoft Edge as the default.

[....] It gets worse: if you don't remember on the initial pop-up, you'll have to dig into the settings to change the default app for every specific file type. This can get tedious! It means you'll have to tell Windows which app should open an HTM, HTML, PDF, SVG, and XHTML file—and that's only a sampling of the file types that a browser can open. Additional screenshots show Windows 11 still nags the user to try Microsoft Edge when switching browsers.

From the same people who brought us IE 6, the bane of web developers everywhere, now comes Edge — the browser with the swirl toilet flushing icon.


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  • (Score: 4, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 20 2021, @02:27PM (11 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 20 2021, @02:27PM (#1168836)

    I'm so fucking tired of this incompetent journalistic sensationalistic bullshit. A handful of alternative browser makers make a public statement, and automatically every tech news outlet and his dog just repeat verbatim the narrative without any verification or nuancing.

    First of all: Windows 11 makes changes to the way every application handles associations, not just browsers.

    "Absurdly difficult" ?? Settings, Apps, Default apps. Then select your application, and select which extensions in the list are to be associated with it. How "absurdly" difficult is that ? Granted, in Windows 10, there was one less step because Windows automatically associated every extension to your app, but that led to some undesirable consequences in some instances. One could argue the new way Windows 11 handles this gives the user more control, not less.

    How may of these tech site journalists actually have a working copy of Windows 11 ? Well, I have, and it's my daily driver.

    And how many of the Windows bashers that replied to this thread so far have actually used Windows 11 ? I'll give you a rough estimate: None.

    Now, I have no doubt that my post will soon be downmodded to hell in the blink of an eye. After all, anyone who's not adhering to the "Windows is shit and Microsoft is evil" narrative must be silenced, regardless of wether their comments are based on actual, first hand experience, right ?

    Starting Score:    0  points
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       Flamebait=1, Insightful=1, Interesting=1, Informative=5, Overrated=2, Total=10
    Extra 'Informative' Modifier   0  

    Total Score:   4  
  • (Score: 2) by ElizabethGreene on Friday August 20 2021, @03:16PM

    by ElizabethGreene (6748) on Friday August 20 2021, @03:16PM (#1168851) Journal

    AC your experience matches mine. They could combine the associations for It does seem a little silly not to combine http and https but it's not a terrible experience.

    (Disclaimer: I work for Microsoft, therefore my opinion is invalid.)

  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 20 2021, @03:54PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 20 2021, @03:54PM (#1168861)

    It is not about control. It is about ease of use. There are a lot of file types associated with the browser. Being able to individually associate each one with a different browser is definitely more control, but it is a terrible user experience. Any remotely competent UI development team would have said "Do we really need all this complexity?" If the answer was yes, then they would have built a system based on progressive disclosure, where there is a control to switch default browsers, which changes all file types associated with the browser, and then also having a separate page that allows control on a per file type level.
    The fact the Microsoft chose to do it this way reeks of a deliberate choice to make it harder for the user to do something because it reduces Microsoft's control.
    A deliberate choice that Microsoft has made in the past, and has been prosecuted for making in the past.

    • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 20 2021, @05:58PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 20 2021, @05:58PM (#1168939)

      And allow the user/administrator to create 'logical groups' for file associations, and as an added feature, allow the export/import of groups from a textfile for easy recreation on a new system. Another useful feature would be the ability to have multiple groups with overlapping file associations and trigger the 'open with' dialog for those apps until/unless a primary default is selected.

      That said: I can't even be bothered to use the modern bloated linux distros anymore. I'm back to use my 90s style desktops full-time with a windowmanager that can run in 64 megs of ram and occasional gratuitous use of enlightenment 17-2x when I want to game/web browse and have an on-screen fps meter/compositing.

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Dr Spin on Friday August 20 2021, @10:29PM

      by Dr Spin (5239) on Friday August 20 2021, @10:29PM (#1169071)
      It is about ease of use.

      Whatever Windows is about, "ease of use" is not in the top 1,000.

      I used Windows 10 for the first time yesterday. I have not used Windows since XP. I found the experience similar to trying to organise the garden during a dog fight.

      You go round and round in loops making no progress at all.

      As I have said many times since Windows 1

      • if you use dropdown menus with English words in, only English speakers will know what the options are.
      • OTOH, if you use Icons, no one will know what the options are, probably even after they have tried all of them several times. Icons work reasonably well for three options: Ladies, Gentlemen, Dogs seems to work quite well on most toilets, all though I prefer our local "Women, Men, Amen". Not sure why pictures were required. IME they are of no use to blind people.

      Having a mess of squares on the screen which move around while you are trying to click them might be a way to amuse 5 year olds, but to an adult who is trying to install a printer, they just instil rage. I thought CUPS was annoying, but at least it is possible to make it work. Its not just "WTF did they do with/to Start", finding downloads, or indeed any part of the directory structure is near impossible. You are conned into signing your life away to a multitude of irrelevant institutions just to clear the crap off the screen, and you appear to need administrator privileges to open files you don't even want open. I am not surprised people accidentally install malware. I am surprised anyone manages to get a laser printer to work.

      I told the owner of the offending/offensive machine they should get someone else to help them or I would install BSD 2.11 on it. And had a very large brandy.

      --
      Warning: Opening your mouth may invalidate your brain!
  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Runaway1956 on Friday August 20 2021, @05:04PM (5 children)

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Friday August 20 2021, @05:04PM (#1168899) Homepage Journal

    "Absurdly difficult" ?? Settings, Apps, Default apps.

    Nice. That's how it's apparently supposed to work.

    For some reason, I decided to play around with Win11 in virtual machines. I've installed half a dozen (or more) machines now. In one machine, it works as you say it should work. In another machine, it simply doesn't. You walk through the steps, close all the windows, and you believe that $favoritebrowser is now default. Right up until you click a link somewhere, and Edge pops up again.

    Yes, it's absurdly difficult to customize Win11 to your taste.

    Oh, wait - did you think that Edge was the only application to do that? Believe me, there's more.

    How about you fire up DISM, and uninstall some of the baggage? Guess what - you've got to turn off updates, or all the baggage will be tossed right back at you. OK, maybe not all the baggage, I've not seen XBox crap reinstalled, but you get the idea.

    And, privacy? Win11 is the most invasive operating system I've ever seen. We only thought that Win10 was bad.

    --
    Through a Glass, Darkly -George Patton
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 20 2021, @06:24PM (4 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 20 2021, @06:24PM (#1168953)

      And, privacy? Win11 is the most invasive operating system I've ever seen. We only thought that Win10 was bad.

      Would you kindly elaborate?

      • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Runaway1956 on Friday August 20 2021, @06:59PM (3 children)

        by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Friday August 20 2021, @06:59PM (#1168966) Homepage Journal

        Start with all of the telemetry of Win10, and add a little more.

        Throw in an IE-like browser that is embedded into the system, and impossible to uninstall by any means. The browser reports things that telemetry misses. That browser defaults to Bing search, Bing maps, Bing everything, and it is difficult to change them. (As I pointed out above, not every installation is equally difficult to change defaults, but the default is to be difficult.)

        Add a dozen desktop applications (XBox, Voice, Camera, chat, and more) all designed to keep you inside the walled garden - and make each of them report usage back to Microsoft.

        Mind, now, that this is Win11 Pro. People running Pro have tools available that they are expected to know how to use, starting with DISM. Wait for the Home edition, the Ultimate edition, and whatever else Microsoft decides to offer. Users won't have all the tools available in Pro, such as group policy editor, to mitigate the spying. Worse, users won't likely know how to use such tools if they are available.

        Back to Edge for a moment. Do a fresh install, fire up Edge, and do a search for "download Firefox". Number one top hit (from Bing) will be, "Microsoft recommends that you use Edge as your default browser to keep you safe on the internet" or words to that effect. FUD is just FUD.

        Then search for chat applications, such as Hexchat. You've grown somewhat accustomed to Microsoft referring to applications as "apps". So, you want Hechat. You click on the github link, and you see "windows 10 app". Click on it because "app", and you're taken to the Microsoft Store. Here, you learn that you can download it for $9.99. But, I thought Hexchat was free? Free as in beer, and free as in rights? Gotta scroll down a bit to find the disclaimer that Hexchat is free, and payment is optional. But, back to Github. You can download "Win7+ installer" for Hexchat. Yeah, it works, but I was mislead for a short bit because "app". But, Microsoft owns Github, so putting up some psychological guidance to purchase a free application from the Microsoft store makes sense. And, either way, you can be sure that you are being tracked and logged, and Microsoft knows exactly what is installed on your system.

        It goes on - but I haven't actually documented anything at all. Each person has to experience Win11, and make up their own minds. Personally, using Win11 as a daily driver would drive me bonkers.

        --
        Through a Glass, Darkly -George Patton
        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Dr Spin on Friday August 20 2021, @10:32PM

          by Dr Spin (5239) on Friday August 20 2021, @10:32PM (#1169074)

          You've grown somewhat accustomed to Microsoft referring to applications as "apps". So, you want Hechat. You click on the github link, and you see "windows 10 app". Click on it because "app", and you're taken to the Microsoft Store. Here, you learn that you can download it for $9.99. But, I thought Hexchat was free? Free as in beer, and free as in rights? Gotta scroll down a bit to find the disclaimer that Hexchat is free, and payment is optional.

          And you are surprised mass shootings are a thing in America?

          --
          Warning: Opening your mouth may invalidate your brain!
        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by EEMac on Saturday August 21 2021, @03:29AM

          by EEMac (6423) on Saturday August 21 2021, @03:29AM (#1169160)

          Add a dozen desktop applications (XBox, Voice, Camera, chat, and more) all designed to keep you inside the walled garden - and make each of them report usage back to Microsoft.

          This is experienced computer user thinking. "I know what I want my computer to do, get this other crap out of my way."

          Novices and several other types of people are more likely to think, "Look at all the neat stuff that comes with my new computer!"

          If it helps, I'm firmly in the experienced user camp. I stifle my nerd rage multiple times a month to keep using Windows. But Microsoft does this for solid reasons.

        • (Score: 2) by corey on Sunday August 22 2021, @10:04PM

          by corey (2202) on Sunday August 22 2021, @10:04PM (#1169690)

          Thanks for the run down, that was interesting (you’re already at +5). I think Win10 is to be my last at home.

  • (Score: 2) by vux984 on Saturday August 21 2021, @09:24PM

    by vux984 (5045) on Saturday August 21 2021, @09:24PM (#1169401)

    Actually this is ALREADY in windows 10.:
    Settings - Apps -> Default Apps, scroll to the bottom past the option to set "email", "maps", "music", "web" ... and there are three "advanced" options:

    Choose default apps by file type --> to get a list of filetypes and the option to set the app for each
    Choose default apps by protocol --> to get a list of protocols and the option to set the app for each
    Set Defaults by app --> displays a list of apps, select one, click manage, get a list of filetypes and protocls supported by the app* and gives you the ability to set them all.

    This last option makes it pretty easy, select firefox, select manage then select everything supported by firefox to go to firefox.
    When I click Firefox it lists:

    .htm, .html, .pdf, .shtml, .svg, .webp, .xht, .xhtml, HTTP, HTTPS, MAILTO

    most are set to Firefox, .html is set to Visual Studio Code, .pdf is set to acrobate reader DC, .svg oddly is set to Edge, .webp oddly is set to chrome, and MAILTO is set to Outlook.

    I doubt I've ever clicked a locally saved .svg or .webp file or I'd have pointed them at something else by now.

    ** I'm not clear how it "knows" what file extensions and protocols a given app supports, to create the list. A database?

    I admit I generally liked the "shortcuts" in windows 10 to switch all the handlers for "Email" or "Web" or web or "Video" but it never caught everything, and you still needed to go into the more advanced panels even to switch fairly common stuff like PDF. (or remap it via the right-click menu -> Open With -> tick "Always" method). At any rate, if this is what counts as "Absurdly difficult" then just give up at life, I don't know how you operate a can opener or tie your shoes.