Microsoft’s Edge Browser hasn’t fared the best in terms of adaptability. Though equipped with a few nifty features, the browser proved hard to compete with the web browser market. Compatibility issues and lack of extensions prevented the masses from adopting the Edge Browser. But over the past year, Microsoft announced that its working on a new version. One that was powered by Google’s Chromium. Now the new browser is publicly available for download. Here’s what you need to know.
What the new Edge Browser offers
If you’ve been using Google Chrome, Microsoft’s new Edge Browser shouldn’t feel too different. Granted, there are few features missing such as history sync and extension sync. But beyond that all your other settings can be imported just fine. Thankfully, the browser also supports Chrome extensions. So you’re not really going to miss out on those either. Then there’s also Microsoft’s version of web protection which it provides through Microsoft Defender SmartScreen.
In terms of design, the look and feel eerily reflects that of Chrome. This makes sense as the company would want users migrating from other browsers to find the transition as smooth as possible. But where Edge sets itself apart from the likes of Chrome lies with soon-to-be-launched features like Collections. “Integrated with Office 365, Collections makes it easier than ever to collect, organize, share, and export web content to Word or Excel”, says Microsoft. Additionally, the new browser also supports Internet Explorer mode. This is where businesses can load legacy IE websites inside Edge itself.
Microsoft also seems to be taking web tracking seriously as well. The browser’s tracking prevention comes in 3 levels. The “Basic” setting will block only known harmful trackers. The “Balanced” setting will also block trackers from sites you haven’t visited, and content and ads will be less personalised. The “Strict” level will take it up a notch and Microsoft notes that parts of certain websites might not work as expected. Furthermore, you can add your own websites to a blocked or exceptions list.
But beyond these few differentiators, there’s also the trust factor to consider. It comes down to who do you trust more with your browsing data? Part of the answer to the question depends on perception. So while it helps to have the better rapport when it comes to data and privacy. It also helps to enable users with better options on how they want their data to be handled. The new Chromium based browser doesn’t answer all your privacy concerns by any means. But the few options available to the users are a step in the right step.
There’s more on the way
Of course, Microsoft is planning to introduce more features in the coming future. The missing history sync and extensions sync is a start. But a feature that Edge users will find new is the ability to install websites as native apps. Essentially this would allow you to install a certain website as an app, have it show up in the Start menu and even run in its own window. This isn’t a new feature for Chrome users. But Microsoft is keen on making these web apps seem more native to Windows.
There are also few other old Edge features that we’re yet to see on the new version. Tools like the ability to annotate with notes, comments, take selective screenshots and share them via other apps, are handy features to have.
There is also the Collections feature that should be available in an update soon. This would be particularly useful if you spend a lot of time using Microsoft products like Office.
Should you make the switch?
At launch, Microsoft’s initial target will be enterprise users of Windows and macOS. The company also hopes to update Windows 10 users automatically with the new version in the next few months. Regardless, users can manually download and install the browser right now. In time, Microsoft will likely build this into a future Windows 10 update. Chances are we’ll see this update as part of Windows 10X for dual-screen and foldable devices.
Right now, the experience on a browser like Chrome and the new Edge Browser isn’t all that different. From compatibility to browser speeds, the new one ticks a lot of boxes. As of right now, you won’t miss out on much if you switch to the new Edge. But you’re not going to get a ton of new features either. Not immediately anyway. Question is, do you like Microsoft or Google better?
In case you’re still not sure of making the switch, we recommend you give the new Edge browser a try. In case you’re curious, there are quite a few other viable alternatives out there too. For instance, the Opera Neon and Firefox Quantum are interesting takes on the average web browser. There’s also the UC Browser for those of you looking for a decent mobile browsing alternative. But probably our favourite of the list is Brave.
Whichever option you opt for, its clear that the Microsoft Edge browser is no longer that handicapped browser it used to be. Building the browser from scratch with Chromium may have been a wise choice from the tech giant. Whether it will bear fruition, is yet to be seen.