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Windows 10 S Won’t Let You Change the Default Browser or Search Engine

Tom Warren writing for The Verge:

In a FAQ for Windows 10 S, Microsoft admits “you are able to download another browser that might be available from the Windows Store, but Microsoft Edge will remain the default if, for example, you open an .htm file.” This means if you click a link from another app, or open a link from an email then you’ll be thrown into Microsoft Edge, even if you wanted to use another browser. It’s not clear if Google will even bring Chrome to the Windows Store, but if it does then it might be a pointless venture as it won’t be fully functional without being the default browser on Windows 10 S.

Likewise, Microsoft is also crippling its own Edge browser. The default search provider in Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer in Windows 10 S cannot be changed. Bing will be the default, and Microsoft is preventing users from switching to Google or other search providers for some unknown reason.

It’s not an “unknown reason”. It’s an obvious reason: they want more people to use Bing, and if they can only use Bing from Edge’s search feature, more people will use Bing.

Let’s compare and contrast these restrictions with iOS:

  • Both allow alternative browsers, but only from their respective app stores.
  • Neither allow alternative browsers to be set as the default web browser.
  • iOS does not allow alternative browsers to use their own HTML rendering or JavaScript engines — all iOS web browsers must use the system’s version of WebKit. I don’t think this is the case for the Windows App Store, but I’m not sure. Update 1: I was correct, third-party browsers can use their own rendering engines in the Windows App Store. Update 2: That’s true for the regular Windows App Store but for Windows 10 S, apps are restricted to the system HTML rendering and JavaScript engines, just like iOS.
  • iOS defaults to Google for web search, Windows 10 S to Bing. But iOS lets you change the search engine to Yahoo, Bing, or DuckDuckGo. Windows 10 S doesn’t let you change it.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017