When Microsoft shipped Windows 11 in 2021, it included several dark patterns that ignored users’ choices and made it harder to change defaults. Windows users had to change the default web browser for almost a dozen different types of web links: HTM, HTML, PDF, SHTML, SVG, WEBP, XHT, XHTML, FTP, HTTP, and HTTPS (as if anyone wants a different browser for HTTP and HTTPS pages). There was no way to change all the defaults all at once, you had to do it manually.


Windows 11 also gave you one single chance to change your defaults when you opened a new web browser for the first time. You’d see a popup, but it didn’t actually work unless you checked a tiny box that said “Always use this app.” If you missed it, you’d never see the popup again.

It seemed like things were improving. Months after releasing Windows 11, Microsoft relented and added a setting that opened things up a bit, letting you change your default browser all at once instead of going through 11 annoying drop down menus.


History fans will note this sounds a lot like the monopoly behavior that once landed Microsoft in court. In the ‘90s, the US Department of Justice sued the company for its efforts to stymie competition for Internet Explorer, the web browser Microsoft finally retired last year.

In the 20 years since, the Department of Justice largely stayed out of tech competition issues. But recently, the DOJ signaled a renewed interest in digital monopolies with an antitrust case against Google. Microsoft isn’t the only game in town any more, which could make it a less attractive target for regulators, though it’s still worth $2.2 trillion. But here we are with more Windows browser shenanigans.