Microsoft Edge

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Microsoft Edge, the default Home windows 10 net browser, is just not solely quick and compliant with fashionable net requirements, but it surely additionally affords some capabilities you will not discover within the competitors. Edge launched with fascinating instruments like webpage markup, built-in Cortana options, and a distraction-free Studying mode. Subsequent updates introduced further options, corresponding to Tab Preview, Set Apart, extensions, and e book studying. Even with out these tips, Edge is value consideration, and it is principally a pleasure to make use of. However Edge does not play nicely with some websites, and its extensions ecosystem continues to be small by comparability to extra mature browsers.

Edge is stripped clear of the offending code that made Web Explorer such a goal for malware. It is freed from ActiveX, browser helper objects, and VBScript assist. Moreover, Adobe Flash is now blocked by default. (You possibly can enable it.) Edge makes use of the brand new EdgeHTML rendering engine as an alternative of the maligned MSHTML, and the browser identifies itself to websites as suitable with the newest variations of Firefox, Chrome, and Safari. It makes use of the brand new Chakra JavaScript engine, which greater than holds its personal on the subject of pace.

Getting Edge and Beginning Up

There’s only one technique to get Edge: Improve your PC to Home windows 10. Doing so installs Edge as your default browser. As with Safari on iOS and macOS, you may’t uninstall Edge, however you may set up some other browser you want and set that as your default. The browser can also be the default on Home windows 10 Cell, and now you may set up beta variations for iOS and Android. When you want Web Explorer for a legacy web site or intranet that requires it, Edge’s menu contains an Open in Web Explorer choice. I examined Edge on a Floor Ebook with a Core i5 CPU and 8GB RAM.

Earlier than digging into all of Edge’s ample glories, here is a fast rundown of what is new for Edge with the Home windows 10 Fall Creators Replace:

Learn Webpages Aloud. That is helpful for ebooks, which you’ll be able to learn in Edge, and likewise for long-form articles.

Annotate Books and PDFs. Spotlight, underline, and jot margin notes simply as you possibly can in a paper e-book.

Pin Website Bookmarks to the Taskbar or Begin Menu. This revives a characteristic that was in IE, however did not make it to the early Edge releases.

Full Display screen View. This one additionally was out there in IE, in addition to in variations of Edge on the Floor Hub, and will have been out there in Edge from the beginning. You would at all times play movies full-screen, however now you may view any webpage that means.

Proceed From Cell. While you set up the Proceed on PC app on an iOS or Android gadgets, hitting the share icon permits you to robotically open Edge to the web page you are viewing on the cell.

Even Sooner JavaScript Efficiency. Edge already beat all different browsers on a number of benchmark assessments, however for the Fall Creators Replace, it will get much more JavaScript and reminiscence optimizations.

Extra HTML5 Help. CSS Grid Format and WebVR 1.1 WebAssembly, SharedArrayBuffer, and Atomics give net builders extra choices.

Edit Favorites URLs. Generally you save a favourite with a protracted particular tackle, however you simply need the principle web site. A brand new right-click choice permits you to edit away.

A Little Fluent Design. The title bar and tab preview space now sport Acrylic transparency, a part of Microsoft’s up to date Fluent Design System that is being step by step rolled out.


The general design of Edge is clear and flat, with easy 2D controls whose features are principally apparent. Tabs are merely squared off, with arrows on the left for navigating again and ahead, in addition to a refresh button that’s massive and appropriate for contact enter. You possibly can select between mild grey and darkish (practically black) interfaces. I want the latter as a result of it places the give attention to the web page fairly than the browser body. There are not any fancy theme backgrounds like these out there for Chrome and Firefox, although I believe solely a small minority use these choices in any case.

On the proper facet of the mixed tackle/search field are the remainder of the controls. Contained in the tackle bar, a e-book icon activates Studying Mode; a star lets you add the present web page to your Favorites and Studying Checklist objects. Clicking the Hub button, offers you entry to Favorites, Studying Checklist, Historical past, Ebooks, and Downloads. The instruments are rounded out with a Internet Notes pen button, the Share button, and an overflow button (the … button) that opens extra settings.

In a design alternative that offers Edge maybe the cleanest look of any browser, the tackle bar does not show in any respect for those who use the search/tackle field in the course of the Begin/New Tab web page. You merely navigate to the tackle with out having to leap as much as the tackle bar on the window border. The tackle bar takes on the identical shade as the remainder of the toolbar till you faucet or click on on it, when it turns white like a standard tackle field utilized in earlier browsers. The Favorites bar does not seem until you flip it on in Settings, and you’ll select to indicate the Favourite web site icons with out textual content. You may as well select Paste-and-Go when pasting a URL from the clipboard, or Paste-and-Seek for copied textual content—issues I have been a fan of because the characteristic’s first look in Opera.

Residence and New Tab Web page. The default Residence web page reveals a newsfeed of the day’s massive occasions, the climate, your studying listing objects, your climate, sports activities groups’ scores, inventory portfolio quotes. A Residence button is non-obligatory on the principle toolbar. New tabs add a row of tiles linking to your most frequented websites. This default view is much more partaking and helpful than a browser that simply has a branded search field and nothing else on its new tab and residential web page. It is all customizable from a gear icon, and for those who’re not into Edge’s default, you may merely begin tabs with a clean web page or any webpage of your alternative.

Tab Pinning. When you right-click a web site’s tab and select Pin, you may at all times have it prepared for simple entry, with a small sq. tab on the left facet of the tab row. New for Home windows 10 Fall Creators replace is the flexibility to pin a web site to the Taskbar or Begin menu. You do that from a alternative within the overflow menu fairly than through right-click. The ensuing button will get the location icon, fairly than Edge’s, which is useful. One other comfort is the flexibility to right-click on the Again Arrow to see the final 10 pages considered within the present tab.

New Tab Methods. In Creators Replace, Microsoft has achieved fairly a bit with Edge’s tabs, which is especially useful to those that preserve a number of tabs open. The browser already confirmed thumbnail previews of your web site tabs once you hover over them with the mouse, however now a down-caret button permits you to present all of the preview thumbs without delay for simple skimming. I do want that you possibly can flip off the hover-over thumbnails, although, since they often get in the best way of browser management buttons.

The Set Apart icon on the prime left permits you to ship the presently open group of tabs to the background. Simply faucet the window icon to its left to reopen the set, favourite them, or share them. The tab teams you have put aside stay out there even after you shut down and restart Edge.

Tabs present a speaker icon when a background tab is taking part in audio, one thing pioneered by Chrome and useful for monitoring down noisy tabs. Sadly, you may’t silence the tabs with a right-click, the best way you may with Firefox’s equal characteristic.

Have Edge Learn Webpages Aloud. Beginning with the Fall Creators Replace, Edge can learn any webpage aloud. That is nice for when you might have a protracted article to learn however your eyes have had it with trying on the display for the day. Good-click wherever on a web page and select Learn aloud. The studying voice sounds surprisingly pure, too; it isn’t a monotonous robotic voice, however makes use of different intonation. You get three voice decisions: Microsoft David, Zira, or Mark, and you’ll pause or skip ahead and again paragraphs.

Books in Edge

Edge serves because the reader for Microsoft’s new e book initiative. The browser has lengthy been capable of show PDFs, however now you should purchase (or get free) precise ebooks within the Microsoft Retailer. There’s already an honest choice, with library of recent releases free classics. I downloaded Dickens’ Nice Expectations, and it seemed nice on the high-res Floor Ebook show. You may as well learn a pattern of a e-book before you purchase it.

Ebooks in Edge

You entry your bookshelf through the identical icon that drops down Favourite, Studying Checklist, Historical past, and Downloads. Identical to some other e book reader, it permits you to select fonts (together with writer defaults), set bookmarks, view the desk of contents, and search. You may as well search for phrases with Cortana through right-click or tap-and-hold choices.

One very cool choice is that Edge can learn the e-book aloud, in a collection of voice varieties, and with adjustable pace. As with all devoted reader, for traditional studying you may swipe backwards and forwards by means of pages or faucet the left or proper facet of the display. However in a means, I nonetheless want a separate app for book-reading. For instance, the Nook app that I exploit reveals the precise web page numbers, whereas in Edge (and Kindle) you solely see a p.c learn. It is also preferable to have the bookstore in the identical app because the reader.

Home windows 10 Fall Creators Replace added a few very fascinating options to the e book characteristic: Full display view and the flexibility to mark up and add notes to books.


An Extensions choice in Edge’s overflow menu hyperlinks to the Home windows app retailer, from which you will get extensions for the browser. I examined it by putting in one I contemplate important—LastPass—in addition to the Web-profit-model-killing AdGuard extension. There are additionally extensions for Adblock, Amazon, Evernote, Microsoft Translator, OneNote, Pinterest, Pocket, and more. Some recent additions include Dashlane, Grammarly, 1Password, and Norton Identity Safe.

Extensions in Edge

At the time of this writing, there are 71 extensions. Though it’s still not a long list, those are some heavy hitters that will make the browser appealing to more-demanding users. In a way, I like that the list seems highly vetted and useful, rather than being a free-for-all of unnecessary and sometimes risky choices in the much larger extension galleries. Thousands are available for Firefox and Chrome, by contrast.

Coding for IE’s extensions uses the same web technologies as Chrome does (HTML and JavaScript), and Microsoft says converting existing Chrome extensions will be trivial. In fact, W3C members are working on a Browser Extension standard, which Microsoft aims to support.

Edge’s Extensions don’t show up in the toolbar as icons by default, but require you to either open the overflow menu, where you’ll see your installed extensions at the top, or to right-click on a page to see an extension icon. In an extension’s Settings panel, though, you can click on “Show button next to address bar” if you want to always have access to it. From that icon, the LastPass extension lets me do all the typical LastPass things—auto-filling username and password, generating a password, and filling forms.

Reading View

Reading View in Edge is similar to a feature found in Firefox and Safari, and it’s a godsend with today’s ad-infested web, especially if you’re reading online news or information sites. You can choose from three looks in Settings: Light, Medium, and Dark. The last is great for night-time web reading when your eyes are nearly shot. There are also four font sizes to choose from, but you can zoom a Reading view page to any size you like.

Reading view is only available for article-style pages, and seeing those without ad pop-overs and auto-playing videos is very refreshing. You see its book icon animate, as if flipping through pages, when you land on a site that it works with. I actually prefer the way Firefox’s similar feature works, though. You can control its appearance in similar ways with a slide-out left-control bar, saving you a trip to Settings. Unfortunately, some sites have gotten wise to Reading mode and disable the feature, and you can’t use Read aloud in Reading view.

Reading View in Edge

Reading List, Downloads, History

The Reading List feature has nothing to do with Reading mode or the e-book reader; instead, it’s a second way to save sites you’re interested in for later perusal. Choosing the Reading List icon instead of the star shows a thumbnail of the page you want to save. You can also save pages in your Reading List for offline viewing on the airplane.

To view your actual Reading List, you use the same three-line menu button you do for Favorites, History, and Downloads. The list of sites you marked shows thumbnail images, with a large thumbnail for the top item on the list. This panel is not the only place you see the list: You also see it on the browser’s useful New-Tab page. The feature could be very useful if you read long articles that require more than a single sitting.

The Downloads panel works as similar features in other browsers do. You get an indication here if a download is suspect. One of my downloaded files was followed by, in red type, the message “This program is not commonly downloaded and could harm your computer.”

You can view visited sites from the last hour, today, yesterday, last week, or older. Something I miss here, though, is the ability to search within your history, and there’s no full history window like that offered by Firefox. But if you start typing part of a page title in the address bar, it drops down in the address bar’s list of visited sites.

Cortana Integration

This is one of my favorite things about using Edge. Most browsers let you search based on selected text with a right-click option, but Edge puts a twist on this, with Cortana integration. When you right-click on selected text, you see an Ask Cortana choice, and instead of opening a new search page, you see a sidebar with a definition, photos, or relevant web results, often from Wikipedia. Not having to switch tabs is a real boon over the course of a day.

The Cortana integration takes another form, too. Sometimes she suggests a modern Windows app if there’s one for the site you’re viewing. She can also offer directions and a menu if you land on a restaurant website, or a coupon if you’re on a shopping site.

Cortana Edge Integration

Cortana in Edge can also find information on photos. Just right-click a photo on a webpage, and the service can sometimes find facts on the photo and related images.

Web Notes

Have you ever wanted to share or save a webpage with markup and comments? Web Notes may be Edge’s flashiest feature, and it is cool, but I must confess that I haven’t used it much in the real world. That may just be a matter of learning a new behavior instead of simply using my Snagit hotkey for all screen capturing. To get started, you tap or click the pen-and-selection-box icon. This turns the top browser border purple and adds several markup tools: a pen, a highlighter, an eraser, a note box, and a clipping tool. Each of these works fine with a mouse, but it’s more fun to use your finger with them on a touch screen.

Edge Annotation

When you’re done marking up and trimming a page to your heart’s content, you can either save it as a OneNote page or share it out to an email address, to another app, to a social network, or to basically any app that accepts shared images. If you save it as a OneNote page, you can give others editing rights for some collaborative editing. An email recipient simply gets a JPG image with a subject line combining Web Notes with the page title. It’s a well-done tool that I’m sure many will find useful.


A main goal of Edge is to be faster than competing browsers. How fast? On some widely used benchmark tests (including Google’s own Octane 2.0), it actually beats Chrome, which many perceive as faster than everything else. In general, Edge feels snappy, even though some sites these days are tuned for the search ad company’s browser.

Performance is most easily and repeatably measured by JavaScript benchmarks. Of course, browser performance involves more than just what shows up on synthetic JavaScript benchmarks, since loading webpagesrequires multiple components aside from JavaScript. HTML and CSS parsing, network interaction, prioritization of which content is loaded first, prefetching, handling mouse moves, DOM events, painting the window with content, and caching strategies all play roles. Effective use of graphics hardware acceleration is another consideration. Note that I no longer test startup times, since all browsers on modern hardware start up in just a couple of seconds.

Browser Performance Benchmark Tests

Click to enlarge.

My test Surface Book features a Core i5-6300U CPU and 8GB RAM. I clear all browsers’ caches, quit all other apps, and removing all extensions before testing. I run each test five times, throw out the highest and lowest results and average the rest.

JavaScript Benchmarks. SunSpider, formerly the best-known JavaScript benchmark, has been superseded by JetStream, which combines routines of the former SunSpider with some in Octane along with others from LLVM and Apache. While Octane tests for peak performance and Sunspider tests for performance on average representative sites, JetStream aims for a balance.

For a few years, Internet Explorer took top place on SunSpider; the new test version is designed to be more real-world, so it takes a lot longer to run, and actually runs through its 39 tasks three times. Its result is also now a “bigger is better” score, whereas it used to report elapsed time in milliseconds, which meant that lower numbers were better. Edge marks up a decisive win in this benchmark.

WebXPRT, from Principled Technologies, contains six HTML5 and JavaScript-based workloads: Photo Enhancement, Organize Album, Stock Option Pricing, Local Notes, Sales Graphs, and Explore DNA Sequencing.

Unity WebGL, FishGL, and PenguinMark. I use the updated Unity WebGL benchmark, from the well-known game-engine developer to test WebGL performance in browsers. It runs through a slew of gorgeous 3D and 2D content, complete with physics, animation, and skinning, and then spits out a final number, for which higher results are better. Opera kicks an error when you first load the benchmark, then runs it without further issues.

FishGL and PenguinMark are a Microsoft benchmarks testing WebGL, CSS, and more. FishGL displays a frames-per-second reading while running. The number goes up and down at first; I wait till that number stabilizes and report that. PenguinMark mostly generates a lot of snow using HTML5 Canvas, and you can clearly see which browser can produce the most snow on-screen the fastest. That would be Edge by a humongous margin, presumably because it accelerates a specific Canvas operation used in the benchmark.

Memory Usage. I first tried testing RAM usage by loading my five browsers with 15 media-heavy tabs and checking their memory usage in Task Manager. When I left this setup running overnight, only Edge was still functioning properly: Chrome simply had shut down, Firefox displayed an error message, and the other two showed blank screens.

I then eased the test up a bit, only loading 10 tabs and letting the browsers settle for 15 minutes. The Chromium-based browsers aggressively freed up memory, but then the sites in the tabs weren’t immediately accessible; I had to wait for them to load. Edge took the most memory, but all the sites were visible when I switched around tabs.

Standards and Compatibility

Edge is a big step above its IE ancestor when it comes to support for new web standards. The latest version that came with Windows 10 Fall Creators update adds support in its Chakra JavaScript engine for the JavaScript functions WebAssembly, SharedArrayBuffer, and Atomics. And the EdgeHTML 16 page layout engine adds support for new CSS features, including Grid Layout, object-fit, and object-position. Edge includes built-in support for Flash and PDF viewing. You can see demos of many of the new capabilities, along with performance tests, at the Edge Test Drive site. And you can see the list of ongoing support additions on the Platform status website.

Edge now also supports asm.js, a Mozilla initiative that allows near-native code execution. It does so very well, as you can see in the Unity WebGL benchmark above, which uses the standard. It also now supports WebRTC for real-time communications. This technology allows Skype-like communication using a webcam and microphone within the browser. (In fact, you can actually run Skype itself inside the Edge browser.)

For a comparison of web technologies supported, the HTML5Test website awards points based on the number of functions recognized by a browser, with a maximum of 555. Edge now gets 478 out of a possible 555 points in my testing on the site, making it highly compatible with modern web standards compared with IE, which scores 312. Safari on the Mac only scores 407, but still manages to work just fine with most sites.

On another compatibility test, Edge fares less well, but so do the other browsers: The CSS3 Test awards Edge only 48 percent for new standards support; Chrome gets 59 percent, while Firefox bests them with 67 percent. One very cool standard has been promised for Edge by its developer: WebVR support. Just as it sounds, it allows the browser to support virtual reality headsets.

Security and Privacy

Edge offers significant security advantages over IE. Like Chrome, it runs in a sandbox, just as every modern Windows Store app does. This means browser processes are isolated from the rest of the system, so site code can’t mess with the rest of your PC’s operation and other programs. It also maintains IE’s SmartScreen Filter, which blocks known malware-harboring sites and flags suspicious downloads. Also, by simply omitting ActiveX, VBScript, and Browser Helper Objects, it gives hackers less opportunity to wreak havoc.

It’s worth noting that Edge got top marks in tests by NSS Labs of phishing and SEM (socially engineered malware). According to the study, “Microsoft Edge demonstrated the highest protection against phishing attacks throughout the test, blocking an average of 92.3% of phishing URLs.” By comparison, Chrome had an average block rate of 74.5 percent, and Firefox achieved 61.1 percent.

One security option that Edge is alone in offering among browsers is biometric site login using Windows Hello—the same face or fingerprint method you can use to log in to the PC. Right now, the only site that I could find that uses this feature is a proof-of-concept site, but the idea of not needing to type in site passwords is very appealing.

On the privacy front, Edge, unfortunately, dispenses with IE’s Tracking Protection feature, which prevented unwanted sites from sharing your browsing information with other sites. It doesn’t offer tracking-protection in its private browsing mode as Firefox does, nor a built-in VPN as Opera does. For more on Edge security, check out an article by PCMag’s guru, Neil Rubenking outlining Edge’s security: Microsoft Edge Brings Bigger, Badder Security to Windows 10.

What’s Still Missing?

Edge, like the rest of Windows 10, is dubbed a service, meaning it’s a moving target, with continual updates that bring new features and capabilities. That’s a good thing in Edge’s case since the still somewhat-immature browser lacks many of the tools found in Firefox and Chrome, not to mention those found in the extras-focused Maxthon, Opera, and Vivaldi. I’ve already mentioned the lack of search in the History panel and the short list of extensions. Another small gap is that you can’t right click to save an image as your desktop wallpaper. The picture is getting better, though, as Fall Creators Update’s addition of full screen webpage viewing shows.

The Edge in Web Browsing

Edge is a significant improvement over its predecessor, Internet Explorer, in both speed and standards compatibility. Its top performance on several benchmarks and its lightweight, clear interface make it well worth a try. Updates in Fall Creators make it even more worthy of being your go-to browser. I haven’t run into much in the way of site incompatibility (all browsers trip up occasionally), but Edge still lacks some niceties found in PCMag Editors’ Choice, Firefox, which provides a more full-featured browsing experience with a vast collection of extensions.

For a visual run-through of some of the features that make Microsoft Edge unique, read 12 Reasons Microsoft’s Edge Browser Rocks.

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