Edge Browser: Finally Ready For Prime Time?

Category: Browsers

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.

Edge Browser Review - new features

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.

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Most recent comments on "Edge Browser: Finally Ready For Prime Time?"

(See all 22 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

22 Oct 2018

I find I have to use Edge to get some web sites which have occasional problems on Firefox to function properly. I can't be bothered to investigate the Firefox problems so just switch to Edge. I don't like Chrome as Google is just too pushy. I still use Firefox generally but wouldn't be unhappy if I had to use Edge all the time.
Incidentally I have just switched from a Windows phone to Android and wonder why the excellent Windows phone didn't catch on. Microsoft just don't seem to promote their products properly.

Posted by:

Kenneth Heikkila
22 Oct 2018

I use Edge when I have to- when a website won't load because even though I have white listed them in Chrome and Antiminer they insist I don't allow cookies. Like you I am too invested in Chrome to give it up so fat, but if too many banks "upgrade" to not allowing me to do my banking I may have to switch after all, though I might try Vivaldi more thoroughly first.

Posted by:

Nancy Wainwright
22 Oct 2018

Edge - advanced Microsoft says? So advanced I had to install a substitute icon for the missing, never to be seen again, edge "E"

I use Vivaldi. I.E. (doesn't function for all sites) and Brave

Posted by:

Jay R
22 Oct 2018

Hedge Fund. Edge Fund.Edge Funeral. If MS wasn't such an AH, I might try it. As long as there's an option, the option will always be chosen first. Unless it's Google. Psi.

Posted by:

22 Oct 2018

I was always on edge when I used Edge so I switched to the old familiar browsers. The same could be said of Windows 10 Mail, not much better than Pine that I uses to use back in the '80s.

Posted by:

22 Oct 2018

Still, nothing jumps out at me from "Tips" about saving in PDF

Posted by:

22 Oct 2018

I have tried Edge but it never seems to give me any reason to use it. So I normally use Firefox and sometimes Chrome. I have on occasion used IE when I encounter a strange site where nothing else works. I find tremendous differences in Internet speed when I test it using different browsers. And Edge fails to work for uploads when I use it on dslreports speed test.

Posted by:

22 Oct 2018

I switched to Vivaldi about 6 months ago and find its many unique features of benefit. It continues getting better.
Wish Vivaldi had an android version.
I never use chrome anymore for anything.
I dropped Firefox years ago.
I do use Brave when I am on my android LG phone.

Posted by:

22 Oct 2018

I don't care what Microsoft does I will never trust them. Windows 10 isn't ready for prome time so how can Edge be either.

Posted by:

22 Oct 2018

I don't know - maybe I'm just lazy but I've never tried any browsers other than Firefox, Chrome and Edge. I dropped Firefox years ago when there were all those issues and never went back, even though that's all supposed to be fixed now.
I have been using Chrome for the most part since then, but gee, it sure is pushy and invasive.
I got a new laptop a month ago that is running Windows 10 and I haven't bothered to install Chrome on it yet. I've been using Edge, and to my surprise I don't mind it a bit. My favourite feature? Reading View. Being able to read a webpage without a ton of junk cluttering it up is just the best thing that's come along in a LONG time! The search engine Bing could use a bit of work, though.

Posted by:

22 Oct 2018

dlc has it right. Once bitten, twice shy. I'll never use any Norton product. And Edge will have to be twice as good as Firefox to have me use it.

The nags MS have been using is working against it. The more nags I get, the *less* likely I'll ever use Edge. It's installed - but behind FF, Chrome and even IE.

Posted by:

Larry Selisky
23 Oct 2018

When it becomes [possible to organize Edge to what I want, not what MS says I need, then I'll consider going over. I don't need stories that belong in US, National Enquirer and People. I'd rather have NORMAL News and info that are actually useful.

When I can organize Edge like I can IE, it may then be useful. Categories are nice, not their mish-mash of stuff.

Posted by:

23 Oct 2018

What a bunch of faithful whiners who seem to continue believe their opinions count for more than simply a joke for others to laugh at. The basic fact is that Edge works just as Bob states so well. What browser you choose to use serves no valued position and has no relationship to the context of Bob's message.

Posted by:

23 Oct 2018

Very interesting that the last two message are dated 10-23 and it is still 10-22. Are those notes from the future??

EDITOR'S NOTE: No, my blog operates on Greenwich Mean Time. It's tomorrow across the Atlantic.

Posted by:

Beverly Chapin
23 Oct 2018

I've used Firefox for years but too many problems recent months so finally gave up after reading your review of Vivaldi. Had tried Vivaldi when it was an "infant" but it had too many growing pains, better now. I still much prefer Firefox - as it was - but they seem to have lost ability to fix it. Tried Opera few times but never liked it, still don't. Still working with Vivaldi but not really sold on it. Just call me frustrated! And avoiding WIN 10 as long as possible. Wish someone would produce a simple, basic OS and browser for home users with add-ons to choose for simpler interests.

Posted by:

Brummagem Flash
23 Oct 2018

My aversion to multi-process syncing remains: surely data security MUST be compromised by both Ggl and Ms using a single login for all processes on their platforms (if these are the right terms).
Oh, the arrogance of Ggl and Ms: claiming our data is safe with them!
I also abhor the auto-selection and opening of Edgee for Ms-hidden reasons, despite Firefox being selected as my default browser.
In much the same way, Ggl annoys me on my android phone: I don't want Google app(s) constantly being opened.
It seems to me that this sort of choice-limiting take-over of our computers and phones, by both Ggl and Ms, must make a large proportion of users want to avoid their products as much as possible!
No, I won't be choosing Edge or Chrome browsers; no matter how many rough edges are smoothed!

Posted by:

Vittal Baum
23 Oct 2018

Edge looks stodgy, I only use it for some sites which don't render well in Chrome, Firefox. Microsoft does not know the art of design. the Hardware design is good but its software icons etc .just plain suck. They need to 3D their icons. The reason OnePlus android sells so well here in India(Asia) is that the screen is AMOLED. The icons stand out fabulously.

Posted by:

24 Oct 2018

I agree with Tony's comment about Microsoft Edge storing confidential information. I will stick to using Chrome for e-mail, Firefox for general web browsing, and Vivaldi for special projects. NO! I will NOT use Microsoft Edge. I may need to use Internet Explorer only for certain special cases. Thank you for the informative article!

Posted by:

24 Oct 2018

I am quite happy with Opera. Big advantage with Opera is that it give me free automatic vpn. This enables my system to run with very limited amount of garbage clogging it up. It makes a huge difference.

Posted by:

top squirrel
25 Oct 2018

Bob writes that he's addicted to Chrome and it has been able to achieve majority status without it being preinstalled on new computers (as Microsoft browsers are). As if that means it's good.

I suspect part of the reason it is so widely-used is that most downloads of other software contain a box, already prechecked, that says "download Chrome and make it my default browser."

The long arm of Google extends, tweaks, and slithers away.

I downloaded Chrome when it was new but had a problem setting it up that was not soluble through any of their help links and there was no way I could contact them for an answer, i.e. they thought they had thought of everything and if you had a question it didn't answer, you can't reach a real person; go to hell.
So I uninstalled Chrome. But the first screen I saw was this weepy boo-hoo that bemoaned why, oh, why, after we've worked so hard, are you uninstalling us? Please tell us why, please please?
I told them why.
And I never looked back.
I don't care if they solved the problem or if you can now contact a human being if you have a problem the software doesn't answer.
I now refer to that browser as "Crime."
That and the James Damore matter tell me all I need to know about Google.
Them and Facebook.
Deal with either at your own risk.

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