Microsoft Edge Needs Sharpening

Category: Browsers

Windows 10 includes an “all new” web browser called Edge that replaces the much-maligned Internet Explorer as the default browser. Microsoft is hyping Edge as a revolutionary product, but so far it seems only half-baked. Here are my impressions of Edge compared to Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox...

On the Bleeding Edge of Browsing

Microsoft says in one breath that Edge was designed from scratch, distancing it from Internet Explorer. But in the next breath, the company says Edge is “based on” IE 11’s rendering engine. This is probably significant only to Web developers, but it shows that all Microsoft statements should be examined carefully.

Edge loads promptly enough, but not noticeably faster than its two main competitors. Edge’s economical use of system resources is pretty impressive at first glance. With each browser open and displaying the same two Web pages ( and, here is their approximate memory consumption (it fluctuates moment to moment). Edge: 11 MB; Chrome: 68 MB; Firefox: 177 MB.

Really, Mozilla: put Firefox on a diet, please! I launched Chrome with no extensions installed, so roughly 50 MB is about as lean as it’s going to get. Edge has a definite edge in memory conservation.

Microsoft Edge Browser review

But that may be because Edge is not yet finished. One of the three highly promoted innovations is unavailable in the Edge build that I received with my Windows 10 upgrade. “Reading mode,” which promises to strip non-essential distractions from a page, is missing. The book icon which appears near the top right of the browser is greyed out, non-functional.

Cortana, Microsoft’s personal digital assistant, works with Edge much as the “search Google for…” option does in Chrome (or “search Yahoo for…” in Firefox). “Highlight a word or phrase (on a Web page), press and hold (or right-click) it, then Ask Cortana to find out all about it,” says Microsoft. But when I tried it, the "Ask Cortana" option did not appear. A bit of poking around revealed that you first need to enable Cortana and set up a Microsoft account, if you haven’t done both already. Type “Cortana” in Windows 10’s search box and click on “System settings: Cortana” to get started on that.

A Bit Too Intrusive?

I have privacy concerns about Cortana; it collects a lot more data about me and my Web activities than is necessary to search Bing and tell me all about those highlighted words. During the Cortana setup procedure, I was presented with this:

"To let Cortana do her best work, Microsoft collects and uses information including your location and location history, contacts, voice input, searching history, calendar details, content and communication history from messages and apps, and other information on your device. In Microsoft Edge, Cortana collects and uses your browsing history. You can always tinker with what Cortana remembers in the Notebook, disable Cortana in Microsoft Edge, or turn Cortana off entirely."

If, after testing Cortana’s integration with Edge, you want to disable it, follow these steps: Open the Edge browser, click on the "More" button (three horizontal dots) at the top right corner, then click on Settings. Scroll down and click the "View advanced settings" button. Scroll down to the "Have Cortana assist me in Microsoft Edge" option and turn it off.

“Make a Web note” is a useful new feature found in Edge. Chrome and Firefox have nothing like it built in, although extensions and add-ons provide similar functionality. Click the pencil-in-square icon at the right-hand edge of Edge’s menu bar to activate the annotation menu. You can use the pen tool to write freehand; the highligter tool to highlight sections of a page in yellow; the eraser to undo such scribblings; the text-box tool to type a note and pin it anywhere on the page; and the clipping tool to snip and save a rectangular part of a page.

The “Share” button looks like three circles connected by curved lines; it lets you quickly email a page to someone or send it to Microsoft OneNote for collaborative sharing with a group. OneNote also requires a Microsoft account.

But Wait, There's More...

The ellipsis (...) at the far right of Edge’s window is the More button. It provides access to settings and standard browser options: open a new window or incognito window, zoom text, find text on a page, print, Settings, etc. You can also launch Internet Explorer if necessary, or send feedback to Microsoft from this menu.

That reminds me of another Edge annoyance. There's no familiar File/Edit/View... menu bar at the top of the screen. It's becoming common for apps to hide the menu, but pressing Alt-F, Alt-E or Alt-V would always make it visible. Not so in Microsoft Edge. So many of your familiar keystroke shortcuts won't work, and you'll have to dig to find the equivalent functions (if they exist). Major fail, in my opinion.

“Advanced Settings” is where Microsoft hides the options that it doesn’t want you to change. Here you can set your home page to something other than Microsoft’s “Hub” collection of tiles; specify a search engine that isn’t Bing; toggle Cortana on or off; block Adobe Flash content and popups; toggle saving of passwords and form auto-fill data; and so on.

The “Back” and “Forward” navigation buttons in Edge are major fails. In Chrome and Firefox, right-clicking on either button drops down a list of recent pages I’ve visited. I can select any URL from my history and jump right to that page. Edge makes me click backward or forward one page at a time to reach my destination.

Another feature missing from Edge is add-ons. If you use Firefox or Chrome, you can choose from hundreds of third-party extgensions to customize your browsing and add new features. Internet Explorer also offers addons, but they've never really caught on in that user base, and there are relatively few to choose from. Microsoft has promised to add support for extensions, but we don't know when that will happen.

Bottom line: Edge is not ready to be my default browser. I'll stick with Chrome for at least another 6 to 12 months. Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Microsoft Edge Needs Sharpening"

(See all 46 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

20 Aug 2015

I read as far as: "Microsoft collects and uses information including your location and location history, contacts, voice input, searching history, calendar details, content and communication history from messages and apps, and other information on your device. In Microsoft Edge, Cortana collects and uses your browsing history" and that was enough for me.

I will definitely NOT be using Edge or, most likely, Win 10 either.

Posted by:

J Russell
20 Aug 2015

I too found Edge to be a bit lacking at first. And yes while it is true a few things are missing I discovered that by putting the Favorites Bar on the Menu of Edge, all was well. I can easily go to my usual Home Page with all the features I favor. I'm thinking instead of starting out being cluttered,Microsoft will build on Edge gradually and hopefully, with care, and allow the cream to float to the top. I feel they are taking the right approach, for once, building on a sound foundation. Time will tell.

Posted by:

20 Aug 2015

Well, I appear to be in the minority here, but I think Edge is just fine. I tried 'Reading View' after Bob's observation and it works beautifully on my version. Come on guys, give it a try. You might find that it's actually rather good (like most of Windows 10).

Posted by:

Smoky Lowe
20 Aug 2015

I have 10 on two computers and I like it. I have kept internet explorer and done away with edge, it is not at all good nor needed. Several things I have disabled and 10 still works well, much better then vista or win8.1, thank you keep up the great work your people do, for us.

Posted by:

Jack Parks
20 Aug 2015

I agree with you totally. Microsoft will never get A browser right because they do not care what the user wants they just try to put stuff in the browser to try and con the users into crap that they can get more money out of them!!!

Posted by:

20 Aug 2015

I'm ready to try Edge just to see if I can escape the problems with Firefox and Chrome locking up because of script running or with Flash.

Posted by:

20 Aug 2015

Uploaded 10 from 7 on two computers. HP Photosmart 7520 printer continued to work fine on Dell laptop. Spent hours trying to get HP 8610 printer working on an HP computer. Then two hours with Microsoft technician taking over computer and failing to get it to print. Gave up, went back to 7, and printer works fine. Others having same problem?

Posted by:

20 Aug 2015

I cannot understand why so many people still bother with MS products and all the crap and restrictions that must be accepted when you BUY a MS product. UBUNTU is a 'free operating system' which one can install and install again, and again, and again... without restrictions. It does not tie you down to any particular hardware and/or architecture on which it is installed. Moreover, most programs that the average user needs are available in UBUNTU free of charge.

Posted by:

20 Aug 2015

Is there somewhere on Edge Browser that I can download zip files etc, to where I want them to go and not in the Edge Download folder ?

Posted by:

20 Aug 2015

I do not like Edge at all. I tried to transfer all of my favorites over from IE11. The supposed transfer went quickly and said it was finished, but none of the favorites moved over to Edge. I have been reading other comments saying that the transfer could be in another folder somewhere. I am not going to even try and find that. It is back to IE11 for me. Microsoft has a lot of work to do on Edge before I will ever consider using that again.

Posted by:

21 Aug 2015

Wow, Edge is one of a very few things in Win 10 I can deal with. I really don't have much problem with it except: if you stay in a motel or use Wifi that you have to sign in on, try and find the sign-in page. Surprise! It's on Internet Explorer. And just try to find that!
But on the whole Edge is one of the least offensive features of Win l0, which I detest beyond belief. I lost a laptop and had to replace it, and the only ones I could find had 8.1 with an upgrade to 10. Which means there is no way for me go back to Win 7, like all my other computers. What the blank happened to Windows Essentials!? The photo editor was the best feature of ANY version of Windows, and now that's gone. When my last Win 7 Desktop dies I'm an Apple user.
I am fervently rooting for MS to go bankrupt as it so richly deserves.


Posted by:

John Booth
21 Aug 2015

I ran 10 for a week. would have been nice but couldn't get bookmarks to work in edge. messed up mu pc in a few places. to many updates. fix it before you push it. I feel it was released to soon. it needed more beta testing.

Posted by:

Bob K
21 Aug 2015

Reading view works great in my version. It presents a clean page minus all the ads.

Posted by:

21 Aug 2015

I find in EDGE the web pages load much faster than in Chrome. And it has happened after I installed win 10.Is there any connection or is it only a coincidence?

Posted by:

21 Aug 2015

"Reading mode" works fine for me. The only thing that I find to be an extreme pain in the head is that I cannot import 'Favorites' - there is a link there for sure, but every time I try it I get a message that tells me "Couldn't import favorites".

Apart from that, I think Windows 10 is a huge improvement over 8.1.

Posted by:

Dennis Reynolds
21 Aug 2015

I for one love Windows 7, and have it on my desktop. I did however upgrade my laptop to Windows 10. Disable wifi sharing, and you can tweak other settings as well, and I've enjoyed using Windows 10 and Edge. So far, no problems. Like everything new, you have a learning curve. There's good and bad like every other browser and operating system. My first impression is that I like it allot !

Posted by:

John F
23 Aug 2015

Edge definitely has potential. Liked it at first.. fast and memory efficient. Don't care about Cortana and other cloudy crap but ... NO BOOKMARK MANAGER...??? Really? I guess I'll stay with Chrome for now.

Posted by:

Norman Rosen
24 Aug 2015

Have Win 10 on a lap top. Your comments about Edge are correct, what a disappointment. I still can not get it to change the home page. I will keep Win 7 on my main computer for awhile longer. Truthfully, I see no real advantage to Win 10. I am not interested in tiles.

Posted by:

Roy C
24 Aug 2015

Using W10 and Edge for nearly 3 weeks. No real problems except from Seagate who tells me their Seagate Manager Software for my FreeAgent external drive will not work with W10 -- recommends I use MS File History, or back up manually. (No promise of fix to their SW.)
Response to Nezzar re: Printing from Edge: Print Command is found in "more" (...) button at top right of page.
So far I really like W10 and Edge. Not using Cortana.

Posted by:

24 Aug 2015

I like Windows 10 so far.
I agree with everything you have said about Edge. I get my searches from Cortana directed to Chrome.
Works fine..

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