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Mozilla bypasses Microsoft, makes it easier to set Firefox as default browser in Windows

Mozilla Firefox logo on a dark background with some orange color below

Changing the default apps such as browsers in Microsoft Windows 10 is not a straightforward process. While this means that users have to jump through extra hoops to set up, let's say, Mozilla Firefox as their default browser, it also means that vendors such as Mozilla face more competition from Microsoft's own offering, which is Edge. The bad news is that in Windows 11, this is becoming even more cumbersome for end-users and vendors as the OS requires users to change the default browser for each type of extension individually.

Clearly tired of Microsoft's antics, as hinted by the company previously, Mozilla has now decided to bypass the Redmond tech giant's UI altogether. As reported by The Verge, Firefox 91 (which was released on August 10) now allows you to change the default browser directly from within the browser itself, instead of guiding users to the Settings app in Windows.

This has essentially been done by reverse-engineering Microsoft's own one-click process for Edge, such that it works for Firefox too, and does not require user interaction beyond a single confirmation click. You can see it in action, courtesy of The Verge, below:

A GIF showing Firefox being made the default browser

A Mozilla spokesperson stated that:

People should have the ability to simply and easily set defaults, but they don’t. All operating systems should offer official developer support for default status so people can easily set their apps as default. Since that hasn’t happened on Windows 10 and 11, Firefox relies on other aspects of the Windows environment to give people an experience similar to what Windows provides to Edge when users choose Firefox to be their default browser.

On the other hand, Microsoft has cautioned that this is not a "supported" methodology to change default apps in Windows as it circumvents the anti-hijacking protections the company baked in to the OS against malware.

As of now, the method works in Windows 10 and Windows 11. It will be interesting to see if other vendors also decide to take a leaf from Mozilla's book, or if Microsoft puts a stop to this - without coming in the crosshairs of antitrust authorities, that is.

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