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How Windows 10 Makes It Harder For You To Use Non-Microsoft Apps

Web browsing. Email. Calendar. Microsoft’s Windows 10 defaults to Microsoft’s own choices, and makes it harder for non-Microsoft apps to compete.

How Windows 10 Makes It Harder For You To Use Non-Microsoft Apps

Most Windows users don’t use Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser (or “Edge,” in Windows 10), which means at some point they checked a little box to use Chrome or Firefox as a default, so it would automatically open email and web links.

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Now, Mozilla CEO Chris Beard has issued an open letter to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, pointing out that Windows 10 has made it harder to change apps away from Microsoft’s new Edge browser in an update that also makes it harder to switch from Microsoft’s default mail and calendar apps.

As he explains in his letter:

We appreciate that it’s still technically possible to preserve people’s previous settings and defaults, but the design of the whole upgrade experience and the default settings APIs have been changed to make this less obvious and more difficult. It now takes more than twice the number of mouse clicks, scrolling through content and some technical sophistication for people to reassert the choices they had previously made in earlier versions of Windows. It’s confusing, hard to navigate and easy to get lost.

Namely, companies like Mozilla can no longer automatically preserve user defaults between a Windows 8 to Windows 10 upgrade. It’s up to the user to make those choices in the menu system.

But worse still, Microsoft has added a strange, second level of complexity to change any app to a Windows 10 default app. Now, you not only check the old “make this app my default” box that we’ve known for years. From that dialog, you’re then ushered to a special settings menu with all of Microsoft’s app defaults. And here’s the kicker: Even though the user has already chosen to switch a non-Microsoft app to their default, they need to re-select it again from a list. See the full process in action here:

The Verge speculates that the update could have benefits to security, but Microsoft made no mention of such in their contentless statement they’ve offered in response to Beard’s letter.

While decisions around default web browsers and other apps might seem like a very small quibble of design, this particular topic has gotten Microsoft in trouble in the past with both the U.S. and U.K., when they prevented computer manufacturers from pre-installing web browsers that would compete with its own Explorer.

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About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company. He started Philanthroper.com, a simple way to give back every day.

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