Microsoft… taking it to the Edge
No — not talking Edge from the awesome rock band U2…. No this is is about Microsoft Edge. I know its been a year almost since the release of Edge but I wanted to share my .02 about the newest browser in the race. It stands to pick up a big and much needed update in the Windows 10 Anniversary Update which will come out this summer. (Currently in beta for both slow and fast ring Windows Insiders).
Internet Explorer was a mess. Microsoft knew it had to do something to it in order to inject enthusiasm back into their browser. Chrome & Firefox were continuing to erode at the dominant browser with each passing month. Microsoft tried to do something with IE in Windows 8.. but much like the beleaguered Operating System.. it had two sides. A “Modern” side that was accessed through the tiles interface and the traditional desktop location. It was kind of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. The modern one was more touch-centric- ideal for tablets or convertibles- but confusing to anyone with a desktop. It didn’t work. IE was becoming more bloated and lacked many of the more modern features that we have come to love from browsers such as Chrome & Firefox. Microsoft’s answer was to build a brand new browser that would only run in Windows 10. Microsoft Edge was born.
Microsoft Edge showed a lot of promise in early testing. It was fast.. faster than IE and in some tests faster than Firefox or Chrome. Microsoft laid out a timeline for it, and let the world know IE was going away. It had served its purpose for 11 versions.
My Take on Edge
I really wanted to use Edge as my daily driver browser. I made it my default in the early testing of Windows 10, and remained that way for a while. I really liked the speed – I even recommended it to a lot of friends and family. I stand by that recommendation for most users. Edge is quick, fluid, and renders pages beautifully. Especially if you have 1080p or 4K monitors. I think for most Windows users it works fantastic. I am a fan of the dark layout and the minimalistic UI which I think helps to speed it up. The reading mode beats any other browser’s reading mode, Cortana is built right in to the browser offering coupons, directions, and help. Really the only problem I have had with crashing is because of Adobe Flash based sites (the browser builds Flash right into it) but in my mind most sites should phase out flash in favor of the much more modern HTML5. The browser just works, it stays out of your way and does not intrude, presenting the content as designed up to the latest web standards. I think browsing will get even better with it as more sites begin the transition to more modern code. A page built in 2000 that looks bad in Edge is not Microsoft’s fault.
Here comes the but….
All this being said. I recommend and use Mozilla Firefox for more advanced users. The reason being? Add-Ons and cross-platform sync. I use LastPass as my main password management utility (for more sensitive stuff I use KeePass as it stays on my desktop at all times) and I pay extra for the ability to use LastPass on my Android Phone, my Ipad, and multiple desktops. This being said there is not an add-on for LastPass at this point. See below for the coming Edge features. No add-on support is huge for me, as it requires leaving the browser and opening LastPass separately. The other item I mentioned is cross-platform sync. With Firefox I sync my bookmarks between my various devices, and as I mentioned I have three different OS types. I can create a bookmark on one and within no time it shows on the other two. At some point I can see Microsoft addressing that and releasing Edge to mobile devices beyond the Windows ecosystem. But that is purely speculation and I need something now. Another minor item is the inability to pin sites to the browser or to the taskbar a la Chrome and Internet Explorer.
Coming Soon to a browser near you
Microsoft has already rolled out Edge updates to the Windows Insider program of which I participate in actively. Features coming in the anniversary update include Add-On support, pinning tabs within the browser, web site notification integration, and Windows Hello login support. The add-on support will be limited at first with add-ons being available to download in the Windows Store. One of the add-ons coming this year among others is in fact LastPass. No timeline has been given on availability nor do we know the complete feature set. I look forward to testing it out, but I won’t be uninstalling Firefox anytime soon. The feature list looks good and since Edge is 1.0 product you know it will get better with time. Even the November update added some key features that were missing at shipping. No word on when/if Microsoft will ever release a version of Edge for Android or iOS but I don’t see a reason for them not to. It should be all a part of their new services based mission. If they do and the add-ons work as good or better than Firefox, I may be making Edge my daily driver.