Edge Browser: Finally Ready For Prime Time?
Microsoft released its all-new “Edge” browser in July, 2015, to very little fanfare. The nicest thing reviewers could find to say about Edge was, “It’s better than Internet Explorer.” After more than three years of work, there are some noteworthy improvements, but it's still a hard sell. Here is what's new and notable in the Edge web browser...
What's New in Microsoft Edge?
Everyone who has watched "The Princess Bride" movie knows that one should never get involved in a land war in Asia. But the folks at Microsoft responsible for Edge apparently never got the message.
After three years of toil, Edge has achieved only 4.3% market penetration, according to the latest figures published by StatCounter, a figure that hasn’t changed since September, 2017. And that's with the advantage of shipping as the default browser for Windows 10.
According to those same stats, more than 80 percent of users are switching to Google Chrome or Firefox as soon as possible after encountering Edge, even though Microsoft advertises it as faster and safer than its competitors. But Microsoft is not ready to give up on Edge. Its latest version, 44.17763.1.0, was released October 2, 2018. The size of that full version number, “44,” implies the staggering amount of effort that has been poured into improving Edge – or, as some might say, making it usable at all.
But there are some bright spots. Edge can now remember your name, address, phone number, etc., and fill in online forms automatically with a single click. Saved data can now be edited and managed. So can payment details linked to your Microsoft account.
Auto-playing multimedia, especially audio data, is finally addressed in this version of Edge. Right-click and select “Mute Tab” to silence the current tab. From Settings on the main menu, select Advanced and look for the “Media Autoplay” dropdown menu. “Limit” blocks anything with auto-playing sound in it. “Block” stops any auto-playing media, with sound or without. Edge warns that this may cause some sites to break, ignoring the fact that any site with auto-playing files is already broken.
One nice feature for those who use both mobile and desktop devices is the ability to view a website on your Android or iPhone and then continue on your PC. You might find this useful if you're viewing a page on your smartphone and want to see the full desktop version, or just enjoy it on a larger screen.
Reading, Writing and Customizing
Microsoft Edge has text-to-speech capability, so it can read website content, PDFs, and e-books out loud. Voice Settings let you move to the previous paragraph, pause, or change the voice and speed. You can also highlight or add notes to PDFs and e-books, that you can refer to later.
Edge’s Hub has been redesigned to great effect. The Hub is central to the Edge experience; it’s where your Favorites, reading list, list of downloads, and other vital things are found. The new design breaks things up into intuitive menus and submenus, making it much easier to find and manage what you want. The individual menus contain more helpful details now.
Overall, Edge’s options are more neatly organized and can be further organized by the user. A “pin” function forces particular submenus or items (like downloads) to stay on-screen. You can collapse menus and submenus by clicking the down-arrow at the top of a menu.
A lack of extensions has long hobbled Edge. Finally, some decent ones are appearing, including Grammarly, Pocket, AdBlock, LastPass, 1Password, and Office Online. Click the three dots icon on the right end of the menu bar and select “Extensions” way at the bottom of the dropdown list.
I am still not ready to part from Chrome; certain extensions and integrations with other Google products stand in the way. (See Ten Years of Google Chrome (And Why I Cannot Quit) for the details.) But Edge has made great strides towards becoming a worthy competitor for general-purpose browsing.
Microsoft provides a pretty good guide to everything that’s new in the latest release of Edge. I look forward to reading your comments about which ones are most important to you.
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 22 Oct 2018
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Edge Browser: Finally Ready For Prime Time? (Posted: 22 Oct 2018)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved