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Neither Firefox nor Internet Explorer requires admin to set as default. Why does Chrome require it?

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What basis are you making this under? That was not my experience, and I have reinstalled it numerous times over the few years I have used it. –  nerdwaller Dec 2 '13 at 18:58
    
The simple answer is that Chrome installs in such a way where the profile is NOT connected to the user. Firefox actually requires proper permissions to be installed as a normal User, because the Firefox profile, is connected to the User profile itself. What is the purpose of this question? If you are trying to block this behavior there are better ways to prevent it. –  Ramhound Dec 2 '13 at 19:02
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There are multiple ways to associate file-types and protocols with a program. For something complex like a web-browser which can support several file-types and several protocols, there are numerous settings that have to assigned to make it the default browser. Worse, there are numerous other hooks into the system that a browser can set these days such as making a buttons in the Start menu, shortcuts in the taskbar, integrating with the shell and email clients, and so on.

So there are quite a lot of different settings to be modified, mostly in the registry, a few in the file-system. Some are mandatory (e.g., http protocol, .url shortcuts, .html files, etc.), but others are optional. As a result, some browsers will set some which others don’t (few, if any, configure set every single possible setting).

Some of these numerous settings are in user-accessible places while others are in areas that require higher privileges.

In addition, Windows essentially duplicates a lot of things on a system-level and a user-level. For example, you can set some things to apply to individual users or to the whole system (or both). Not surprisingly, changing a system-level setting will require administrator permissions.

Obviously Chrome configures some settings that require extra privileges and/or modifies both the user and system versions of some settings.

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If you want to know specifically which privileged values it sets, then you can use Process Monitor to observe what file and registry changes it makes when you click the Make default button. –  Synetech Dec 3 '13 at 6:20
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