Setting Chrome as the default browser on Windows has become complicated

Chrome Edge

Have you ever taken advantage of Google Chrome’s easy-to-use tool that allows you to make it the default browser for your Windows computer without having to open your PC’s app settings? Unfortunately, if you have, there is some bad news. Microsoft‘s most recent update has introduced a frustrating bug that only goes away if you switch your default browser back to Microsoft Edge.

The April Windows update, KB5025221, has caused a lot of trouble for enterprise users, according to Gizmodo. Since July 2022, Google Chrome has offered a function that allows users to change their default browser with a single click, typically located at the top of the window or in the browser’s settings menu. However, since the April 2023 Windows update, enterprise customers have been encountering difficulties. The Windows Default App settings page opens every time Chrome is opened, forcing the user to close the settings page.

Microsoft’s Latest Update Causes Default Browser Issues for Google Chrome Users


One frustrated user wrote on the Microsoft support forums, “After today’s cumulative update for Windows 10 and 11, 2023-04, every time I open Chrome, the default app settings of Windows will open. I’ve tried many ways to resolve this without luck. This is happening to all users with the update.”

Another user on the r/sysadmin subreddit found that just clicking on a link shortcut was enough to trigger the issue. “If Chrome is set as the default browser clicking on the link shortcut will open the link in Chrome. But also open the Windows settings on the default apps,” the user, azaaza0909, writes. They also note that it doesn’t happen if they change the default browser to Edge.

While enterprise users seem to be the most severely impacted by this bug, consumer versions of Windows 10 and Windows 11 have also been affected by the April update, although its impact is more annoying than actively frustrating. The update has disabled Google Chrome’s ability to set the default browser through the browser itself. Going into Chrome’s settings and attempting to set the default browser will force the Default App settings to open. But it will not change anything. Users must navigate down the app list, select Chrome, and at the top click the button that says Set Default.

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However, clicking the Set Default button in the Default Browser menu in the Settings menu on Microsoft Edge will reset the default browser to Edge. So, is this a matter of Microsoft dinging its web browser rival? There’s no way to assign that kind of motivation to a company of many thousands of people. But it’s unlikely that the issue with Default Browser-Gate is purely malice on Microsoft’s part.

Default Browser-Gate: Microsoft’s Latest Update Affects Google Chrome Users

Google Chrome

Users can set the default app on Windows by toggling switches. The OS’s registry file system records the default app for opening files with specific extensions. Google must edit the OS registry files to set Chrome as the default web browsing app. Programs often do this when installing or uninstalling components. It’s not usually as easy as a single button click outside of a Windows settings menu.

Changing your default web browser within the browser is usually safe. Good information and software security are preventative. Microsoft wanted to keep registry changeable actions within its own settings system. Microsoft’s system is more secure than some future versions of Google Chrome.

Edge is compatible and understood by Windows OS developers. They can work together internally to create a safe way for Edge to do things. Third-party apps typically require higher level privileges. Microsoft’s control of both actors in the exchange makes it easier to maintain security.

Therefore, it’s possible that Microsoft is acting petty and making it just a little bit harder to use its competitor’s product while making its own much easier as an alternative. However, it’s also defensible from a security perspective. In the end, it’s likely a little of both.

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