It was a week of ups and downs for Microsoft and Edge. First the company angered users by bolting buy now, pay later app Zip onto Edge.

Then, just days later, Microsoft tweaked Windows 11 to make it easier for users to change their default web browser.

Part of the Zip BNPL checkout flow in Edge

If you’re asking why a web browser needs a built-in tool like Zip, you’re not alone. Microsoft’s blog post announcing the arrival of “BNPL” in Edge has been met with a tidal wave of criticism. As I’m writing this post there are 12 pages of comments — and the vast majority are from users voicing their displeasure.

Several rightly point out that Edge, like the Chromium code it’s now built on, already supported extension. A Zip extension developed in partnership with Microsoft would have been far less invasive, leaving it up to the user whether or not BNPL functionality was worth always having at the ready.

Microsoft would likely argue that it’s trying to differentiate Edge from its competitors and online shopping is one way to do that.

The first stage of that push was adding a coupon-finding tool to Edge. It works like the Paypal-owned Honey app, automatically finding discount codes for the shopping websites you visit.

Edge browser built in coupon tool

Honey has tens of millions of active users. Zip reported 7.3 million in its quarterly report this July. Clearly there are plenty of users who find the two apps useful, and Microsoft may simply be betting that it stands to gain more users by attracting the average online shopper to Edge than it does by catering to the tech crowd.

While those folks aren’t fans of the shopping features, they are excited about Microsoft’s decision to make switching default browsers easier in Windows 11.

In a statement provided to Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet, Microsoft said it had “streamlined the ability for a Windows Insider to set the ‘default browser’ to apps that register for http:, https:, .htm, and .html.”

The change appeared in the Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 22509, which was released on Wednesday.

Microsoft routinely rolls out new features in Insider builds. Some — like this one — are driven by user feedback. That feedback and Windows telemetry are examined to determine whether the changes get delivered to all users.

The simplified default browser switching process seems like a safe bet to make the cut, if only to keep regulators from getting involved.

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  1. I wonder if there is a way for webpages to detect the existence of this configuration, before the user uses it, using frontend code.

    If it’s completely undetectable to a webpage, then this sounds like a neat feature. If it can be detected by a webpage before I use it, I don’t like it. A webpage being able to “feel” for this feature being enabled would be akin to a webpage being able to bypass my preference of disallowing 3rd-party-cookies. It would let a webpage target me as a user in ways that I don’t want.