Wait, what? In Windows 10 S, you’ll be stuck with Microsoft Edge as default browser
Thinking about purchasing one of Microsoft’s snazzy new Surface Laptops, running the company’s freshly introduced Windows 10 S operating system?
Keep in mind that you won’t be able to change the default browser from Microsoft Edge, and in that browser — as well as Internet Explorer — you won’t be able to change the default search engine to, say, Google.
“Yes, Microsoft Edge is the default web browser on Microsoft 10 S. 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. Additionally, the default search provider in Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer cannot be changed,” the FAQ states.
“The default search provider in Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer cannot be changed.”
This is in line with how Microsoft envisions Windows 10 S usage. This particular version of Windows will only let you use apps that are in Microsoft’s App Store, making it a lot more restricted than regular Windows, but also somewhat improves security and performance of the OS. As Microsoft puts it in that same FAQ, “by exclusively using apps in the Windows Store and ensuring that you browse safely with Microsoft Edge, Windows 10 S keeps you running fast and secure day in and day out.”
Users will be able to change this by switching to Windows 10 Pro, but this will only be free if you’re a student or, if you’re not, only until the end of 2017. After that, the upgrade will cost $49.
This sort of thing brings to memory Microsoft’s woes in the European Union. The company had to pay billions of dollars in fines in the last decade, as the European Commission had determined the company had been abusing its dominant position on the market by forcing Internet Explorer down consumers’ and developers’ throats.
Truth be told, other companies have similar restrictions in certain cases: You can’t, for example, change the default browser from Google’s Chrome on a Chromebook — though that’s largely due to the fact that Chrome essentially is the operating system on a Chromebook. You can, however, change the default search engine on a Chromebook.
But it’s still a big deal; the first thing I do on a fresh installation of Windows is switch the default browser to Chrome, and I’m sure many other users do the same. Chrome currently has a towering 59% market share according to NetMarketShare, compared to Microsoft Edge’s 5.6%. On the search engine front, Google has an even bigger share, at 79.8%, compared to Microsoft Bing’s 7.1% Percentages aside, it’ll be interesting to see the reactions from real-world users when they realize they’re stuck with Microsoft’s Edge and Bing as defaults.
We’ve reached out to Microsoft about this decision and will update the post when we hear back from them.