I want a different default browser setting for tiled WinRT apps than I do for app in the legacy desktop environment. Is this possible?

I'm playing with windows 8, and one thing I've noticed is that by default the metro/winRT apps respect my choice of Chrome as my default browser. That's probably a good thing for the default, out of the box behavior for Windows, and it's definitely what I want for normal desktop apps.

However, I've found this doesn't hold up for metro/WinRT/tiled/modern UI apps. I think the transition between the desktop and metro sections of Windows is a jarring user experience. I want to minimize this, and so I'd like to keep WinRT apps entirely in the the WinRT modern UI world, including when opening internet links. Instead of opening in my default browser, I want them to use the metro IE10 (or eventually metro Chrome or Firefox). This only holds for the RT apps. Desktop apps should continue to respect the traditional default browser setting. Can this be done?

One browser that supports different personalities/operating modes depending on the source would be an acceptable compromise.

  • The Chrome dev channel version now supports metro. Does that satisfy your metro integration needs?
    – rakslice
    Jul 14, 2012 at 5:02
  • It would if it knows to be in metro mode when opening a link from a metro app and desktop mode when opening a link from a desktop app. I still want the desktop mode much of the time. Jul 15, 2012 at 4:27

3 Answers 3


Sadly, this cannot be done. In Windows 8, the default browser (one set to open HTML links) is the only browser that can run in metro mode. If you set Google Chrome as the default browser, IE10 will no longer open in metro mode, it will just open in desktop mode. So the default desktop browser automatically becomes the default (and only) metro browser.


One could write a .NET app that:

  1. Catches hyperlink triggers.
  2. Identifies the apps from which the hyperlinks are opened.
  3. Detects whether the app is running in Metro mode.
  4. Temporarily alters the Windows default web browser setting accordingly.
  5. Releases hyperlinks in the new default browser.
  • One could not write an app like that because the default is protected by a cryptographic hash. You can no longer programatically set the default yourself in Win8. Mar 7, 2013 at 0:14
  • @Brian To protect against malware?
    – mcandre
    Mar 7, 2013 at 17:37
  • Malware and aggressive browsers Mar 11, 2013 at 17:39

Unfortunately this is not possible as there are no 2 browsers in desktop and metro. Basically what happens is that the metro versions of IE and Chrome are only a UI shell. The rendering engine is shared with the desktop version.

Because these are "hybrid apps" you cannot choose different ones for the desktop and "metro" because they are basically the same apps.

  • 1
    To clarify, not all of what is said here is exactly true. It's one install for each app, yes, but they do hold their own settings between Metro and Desktop versions because of the Metro sandboxing rules. (Although, for IE for example, that wrap OS level properties like Connection info, it's a hybrid of where settings are stored.) I'm not sure if the original ops question is solvable or not though.
    – Mufasa
    Oct 28, 2012 at 6:57

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