Recently Microsoft launched the first preview of their Edge browser with extension support. As a genuine nerd, I finally decided to put the Edge to the test.
Microsoft Edge is free to use for a while now and I still haven’t heard any fuss about it. After testing it for about 10 days now, I made a verdict. I haven’t tested any extensions yet – If you are eager to try it yourself, Microsoft prepared some instructions to get ahead. Microsoft Edge is great to look at. It has a quite good design with a smooth functionality. The choice of icons make sense and so does the basic framework. Some functions have really surprised me, but those might be attractive for a very specific type of users. Microsoft claims that is faster than Chrome and Firefox browser and so far I can’t really deny it. For measuring they used Octane 2.0 speed test, owned by Google – I like that move – Big balls! 🙂
Cast to device feature
First to mention is definitely a “Cast to device” feature. I know those features can be integrated with extensions in other browsers, but already built-in function is somehow making me happy. I have my TV connected to my router by wire and sometimes I enjoy to watch some movies I have on my PC. This feature is not only enabling to watch videos from a selected website with a couple of clicks, it allows users to cast any content from a website like Facebook posts, videos and photos to a device. It’s great to watch some documentaries from YouTube or even listen to music from YouTube playlists. The transition between videos is automatic and a bit too slow for my taste, but that’s probably not the Edge issue. Just try to turn off the TV box while casting if you don’t want that TV channels are making noise between the transition to another video. If you have a chance to connect devices to cable, the performance should be better than over WiFi!
Make a web note feature
The other feature worth mentioning is “Make a web note”. After testing that one my mind crossed a thought how good would it be to have that one about 10 years ago, when I was cropping photos from print screens while making homework seminar papers for school and later at the faculty. Great feature for basic drawing, highlighting and adding content to a website print screen. Simple cropping is already saving your choice to a clipboard and is ready to use for pasting it in any other suitable software or saving to OneNote. All I’m missing here is options feature for saving to a folder as well.
I also like the developer tools (F12). The overview over a code, especially CSS styles is much more convenient for an eye than in Chrome. Kudos for that! Just after I wrote the last sentence and closed a developer tools section I found a bug – I have no idea what happened and why, but I can’t close it (The developer tools section). Anyhow, I’m sure they’ll fix it.
Besides what we mentioned, there isn’t much more to be stoked about. But that doesn’t mean that Edge is a lousy browser. The fact is we are spoiled enough to be indifferent to functionality that we already expect from a browser that is coming from the biggest software company in the world. I’m not sure what their goal with that browser is, but for a perfect feature functionality, they’ll have to stretch their working hours.
There was a bit frustration when I started to work with “favourites” links on a favourite tab. Importing the favourites from Chrome wasn’t making me any trouble and I must say it worked smoothly! Good job! Although I must admit that using those gave me some second thoughts about switching to Chrome. And another thing about importing: Favourites from Chrome with no names (just icons) were excluded.
Here’s what bothered me about the Edge;
I’m having favourites links organized in folders like that:
- Opening a folder has a slight lag. (I’m using a solid SSD disk with 8GB of RAM so the infrastructure of the PC shouldn’t be a problem)
- I can’t open a new tab from a folder menu while holding down a CTRL key. Once clicked it closes back in. In the case of opening a few more links, I have to open a drop down for every link. Sucks! If you’re using a middle mouse button it works fine, but CTRL key would make my worries go away when I’m on a laptop without any mouse nearby.
- Right click options on a link from folder would also help when I want to open a link in a new tab for example (or open in new window, or copy a link, etc.)
- “Working surface” where the content is shown could use a few more pixels in height. I like the design of a big and clean buttons they used, but working surface is more important to a user, I think. While working on a big monitor that isn’t an issue but while using a 13-inch laptop it forces me to find alternatives (read: Chrome). I like the slim scrollbar on the right, though!
- Drag and drop link to a folder to favourite bar. Common guys! That’s a “must have” feature!
- I’m also missing an automated opening of the folder while crossing over with a mouse cursor.
- CTRL + T. I would really appreciate it if I could start typing a URL right after I use that shortcut, without having to click on the search field. That would make me much happier.
Oh, and let me emphasize that; Edge is a Windows 10 browser! For now – Linux, Mac and Android users won’t be able to use it on their OS platforms. They are not denying that it’s won’t be made for other OS as well, but surely, I haven’t found any information that it will be made in near future.
“Right now we’re building Microsoft Edge for Windows 10, we’ll see in the future if it makes sense for other platforms” #BuildTour
— Michael Gillett (@MichaelGillett) 18 May 2015
There is no doubt that Microsoft has made a huge leap forward building a new browser for Windows. Internet Explorer is becoming more or less a shadow of the past and I’ll miss it. It was my first choice to use it when I had to download Firefox Mozilla or Google Chrome. 😉
The edge itself is OK. It’s fast, well designed and it has great features. With Edge extensions in the future, it might seriously endanger Chrome dominance on the market. All I’m afraid of is that performance of extensions might demand too much of PC juice (RAM) and there might not be many of those to choose from. RAM demand is already making problems to Chrome users and I’m a bit sceptical how the Microsoft developers will handle that problem for the first time. Anyhow, first things first they say. In overall, I must say that I’m satisfied with Edge functionality but because of my spoiled nature, I’ll have to wait for an upgrade. If Microsoft is able to add before mentioned features and if extensions will run smoothly and there’ll be many to choose from – they’ll buy me. I’ll say bye to Chrome and welcome the Edge into my life.
Here is a statistics from browser usage around the globe for the last 3 months (from Dec 2015 to Feb 2016):
Sitepoint.com has created some nice tables that show how the trend of browser usage is moving. Edge is already gaining some speed while IE is losing it rapidly. Chrome is still grinding it’s way forward dominance and it doesn’t seem anything is stopping it. Safari has jumped a little, while Firefox is losing the competition for the first 3 spots. We’ll see how it goes from here. Edge has a potential and I’m looking forward to see it.
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