Microsoft Edge 75 First Impressions

Posted on March 24, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Cloud, Windows, Windows 10, Windows 8.1 with 50 Comments

An early build of the Chromium-based version of Microsoft Edge has leaked, giving us our first opportunity to see what Microsoft has been up to. It’s incomplete, and is missing many classic Edge features. But it’s also familiar for the majority of people who currently use Google Chrome. And that alone will make the transition a seamless one.

In fact, when you think about it: Getting Chrome users to move to the new Edge is more important than attractive classic Edge users. After all, Chrome is dominant online, while Edge usage hovers in the 3-4 percent range.

Getting past that, there is the problem of naming. Many are using silly names like “Chredge” or “Edgium” to refer to the new browser. And the term “Chromium-based version of Microsoft Edge” is obviously pretty ponderous. So I went looking for any hint that Microsoft might brand this thing differently just to make it obvious which was which.

I didn’t really find anything obvious; even the icons are identical. But where the classic version of Edge that will ship in Windows 10 version 19H1 (1903) is currently identified as Microsoft Edge 44.18362.1.0, the leaked build of the Chromium-based version of Microsoft Edge identifies itself as version 75.0.107.0. So I will refer to this new product as Edge 75 here.

As noted, Edge 75 is very obvious a version of Chrome/Chromium. It looks like Chrome, behaves like Chrome, and appears to perform like Chrome. The similarity is immediately obvious, visually—Edge 75 utilizes the same Material Design-inspired rounded corners on tabs and the address box—but it of course also extends down t the product’s very technical foundation. (Even its casting ability will be Chrome-based and not use Miracast as with classic Edge.) So I’ll leave the surface-level stuff to others, and focus on a few more important points.

First up is the browser’s support of Progressive Web Apps (PWAs). I assume this was a driving force behind the move to Chromium, and Google has done a great job of making PWAs feel like native experiences, and not just on its own platforms but on Windows and macOS.

Twitter is the obvious way to test this functionality. On Chrome, when you visit the PWA version of Twitter, you’re provided with an Install link in the menu. I fully expected to find this option in Edge 75, but it’s not there. Instead, Edge 75 treats the Twitter PWA like any other web page. So you can pin it to the desktop and access it like an app. But it doesn’t identify the PWA correctly. In this case, it’s not too harmful, as you’d want/have to be online to use Twitter anyway. But that could be a problem with other PWAs.

The good news? If you know where to look (try navigating to edge://apps), you can configure a pinned web page to open as a window, so that it doesn’t open in a normal browser tab, just like in Chrome.

This makes for a much more seamless experience, because any web page pin can be made to look like a real app. It works just like it does in Chrome. (And will presumably sync your pinned pages and PWAs across devices using your Microsoft account.)

Which brings me to item two: Your Microsoft account (MSA). As I discussed in Is Microsoft Edge on Chromium a No Brainer? (Premium), one of the issues for Chrome users moving to Edge 75 is that the integrated online account in the browser will be your MSA, not your Google account as in Chrome. So those who have been saving and syncing passwords, bookmarks, form data (including payment information), and other things via Chrome will need to import that all to Edge 75 and then use that browser going forward.

Looking at this first Edge 75 build, you can see that your MSA is tied to the browser, and it provides a simple interface for managing the browser profile that is tied to your MSA. This includes the expected interfaces for passwords, payment info, addresses, and more.

Given this, I’ll need to experiment with how—or whether—that data can be integrated into Android. One of the nice things about using Chrome today is that password information synced through the browser to your Google account is then made available for signing into native apps in Android. It is possible for third parties to replace Google’s handling of this sync. But I don’t believe Edge mobile can do this yet. I will keep researching this.

For those hardy classic Edge users, the first thing you’ll likely notice—beyond Edge 75’s depressing similarity to Chrome—is that many core Edge features are missing in Edge 75. This includes tab management features like “Set these tabs aside,” the ability to add handwritten notes to webpages, Reading view and its integrated Learning tools, e-books, and much more. I expect at least some of those to make the transition. But it’s likely that the first release of Edge 75 will be a subset of the functionality of classic Edge.

That said, it will also bring the best of Chrome to Edge. This includes a wide range of functionality, but the neatest thing I’ve found so far is that you can enable third-party extension stores, browse to the Chrome Web Store, and then install any Chrome extension you want. For me, this is a crucial step towards changing browsers. And I’ve already installed Momentum, my preferred new tab experience.

Given all the silence around this release over the past few months, I had worried that things hadn’t progressed very well and that the first public release would be a mess. But now that I’m using Edge 75, I feel good about the future again. This is almost good enough as it is, to be honest. And anyone comfortable with Windows Insider builds should have no trouble using this alongside other browsers even in its current state.

I’ll keep using it.

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Comments (50)

50 responses to “Microsoft Edge 75 First Impressions”

  1. Avatar

    christian.hvid

    Typo: by "superset" you probably mean "subset".

  2. Avatar

    skane2600

    Twitter is the obvious way to test PWAs because there's so few well-known sites that support them.

  3. Avatar

    Tony Barrett

    Is anyone else slightly uneasy about Microsoft's methods and practices they're using at the moment? They seem to fail with pretty much every home-grown solution they've tried, so now act as a parasite on other platforms - leaching off other vendors hard work, using moderately devious methods to get users to switch to or use their services etc. Maybe it's just me, and I guess this is a cut-throat business, but MS don't seem to be able to succeed with their own tier 1 bespoke platforms, so they feed off others.

    • Avatar

      mstrzelecki

      In reply to ghostrider:

      They are trying to become more "app" oriented, so their stuff can run on most platforms

    • Avatar

      mestiphal

      In reply to ghostrider:

      They'll have a really hard time getting me to go back to their services. with just pictures my onedrive is full, meaning all their other services that sync with onedrive are completely useless since there is no room for them to sync.


      After buying my Android phone and learning about their ecosystem I have already uploaded all my music to Google Play Music, and all my photos to their Google Photos cloud services which officer 50,000 songs and unlimited pictures upload limits.

  4. Avatar

    Passinttd

    Has there been any information on group policies for the new Edge browser?

  5. Avatar

    Todd Logsdon

    So I take it this means I can finally use LastPass in Edge75 now? I've been avoiding using Edge in my new machine as I setup all my logins with LastPass and was bummed to learn it only worked in Firefox or Chrome because of Edge's extensions policy or something.

  6. Avatar

    mstrzelecki

    I wonder if it'll be supported by the Windows 10 account sync feature

  7. Avatar

    Chris Payne

    Please proofread your articles. Many typos that any basic spell checker would have caught.

  8. Avatar

    sevenacids

    The thing is, and I brought this up before: I don't see a reasonable argument why anyone would switch from Chrome to Edge just because the browser is Chromium-based now. Edge, as a brand, has left a bad taste in the mouth of many Windows users from the beginning, its logo looks just like a modernized version of IE and people carried over all of their bad associations with it as well. So, where's the benefit? Honestly, I don't think that dumping their own engine, for better support of PWA or whatever (it's not like EdgeHTML doesn't have any support for PWAs, it's on a dead-end now only because they dropped it) will come to the rescue. And as a software developer, I don't really like to see the reduction of the browser landscape to a single engine, in control by a single company (de facto). We already had this with Microsoft in the past. I hope Mozilla can keep up, because if not, I view a single engine as a serious threat to the remaining openess of the web, and when I look around, it shocks me and I don't understand how people who once stood up against such monopolies could have become so naive.

    • Avatar

      skane2600

      In reply to sevenacids:

      I think the integration of Google services such as gmail was the driving force behind Chrome's adoption. I don't think the average user had anything against IE or Edge just as I don't think they will care about whether Edge is Chromium-based. These issues are inside baseball.

    • Avatar

      byroncon

      In reply to sevenacids:

      Isn't it for enterprise? With the rendering engine being built already, they can focus on value add to enterprise. Enterprise would love a tightly controlled MS browser which renders and performs as well as Chrome. I don't know the area well enough to argue if it can't be done already with Chrome, but MS will make a Chredge implementation even easier.

      • Avatar

        skane2600

        In reply to byroncon:

        Possibly, but enterprises that have been using Chrome for years probably have figured out how to configure it to their satisfaction. They might also fear a divergence between Chrome and the new Edge. As you probably know, software design boundaries aren't always cleanly observed, so changes to the UI or lower-level code can sometimes affect each other.

    • Avatar

      codymesh

      In reply to sevenacids:

      so basically you're saying that new Edge is not better than Chrome because of the logo.

    • Avatar

      bill_russell

      In reply to sevenacids:


      The difference these days are two major renderging engines are open source and attempt to follow standards. In the days of IE that was it and it was both closed source and non standard.

      Also, there is Apple's Webkit, which I believe is open source as well.


      Personally I use firefox lately, mostly because it has a few features I like that are not on chrome. I assume MS's engine must simply have been bad and they gave up. With that much influence and about 800Million potential users and practically begging everyone to use Edge, they couldn't make a dent. I know the time I upgraded to win10 at work, I had to use Edge initially and there was some major rendering bug with it right off the bat. Well, I was able to download chrome or firefox with it, anyway.


      Why can't Edge at least be released to the open source community, with all the "open source love" they have? They just released calculator to open source.


  9. Avatar

    bbold

    I can't wait to try it! Will Windows Insiders get first dibs or will they create a separate team to test?

  10. Avatar

    danmac

    I also downloaded the leaked version and I did have an install link under the App sub menu.


    Worked for Twitter and YouTube. I think I'm switching from Firefox

  11. Avatar

    Simard57

    you mention "the integrated online account in the browser will be your MSA, not your Google account as in Chrome" - is there a reason it cannot be both? my email clients manage multiple accounts, why not my browser? why must it be tied to a single account?

  12. Avatar

    Simard57

    Paul you say "you can enable third-party extension stores". Is that consistent with S Mode? Are extensions a malicious vector? S-Mode restricts executables to the store - aren't extensions executables? did you install the extension while in S Mode?


  13. Avatar

    Caradog

    I can see a lot of work for MS web devs to make their pages work in Chromium (unless the leaked version fixes this). E.g., go to https://account.microsoft.com/billing/orders in chrome and you get, at least I do, "Something went wrong". Do it in "old" Edge and it works.


    P.S., Firefox works too...

  14. Avatar

    jecouch66

    I don't know Paul, "Getting Chrome users to move to the new Edge is more important than attractive classic Edge users." If they are really attractive, like, say, Kate Beckinsale attractive, I might be more interested in them than a browser. That could just be my serendipitous nature though. ;)

  15. Avatar

    jamJAR

    Had to laugh when I read "attractive classic Edge users".

  16. Avatar

    amosclan

    Disappointed. Came here because I thought Paul wrote 75 first impressions. :)

  17. Avatar

    Dan1986ist

    Considering those like Paul, Brad, among others have gotten a hands-on look at Chromium Edge recently, when will we all get to install and try it out? I'm aware of the Microsoft Edge Insiders site and one can sign up for information on it, but will that have a download link for Edge via the web once everyone gets to try it out?

  18. Avatar

    theory

    Thanks Paul, exactly what I was looking for. But man, do you need a copy editor. It was difficult to read due to all of the typos and what must have been spell check related unfortunate word choices.

  19. Avatar

    snow.steve22

    Another question: Does "Edge 75" install over "Traditional Edge" or can they exist side-by-side? (I gather the icons look different right now,)

    I'd have to think long and hard before I could just flush Edge (the original) away and replace it. I count on it too much to give it up completely. My setup is too cumbersome to switch over to a different system to get back to my current comfort zone and be productive again. Also, will it persist when a fresh feature update comes in?

  20. Avatar

    dcdevito

    I can't wait to switch from Brave on all my devices to Edge.

    • Avatar

      kjb434

      In reply to dcdevito:

      Edge on Android is great and currently syncs with Edge on Win 10. As long as this seamless transitions to the Chromium based version I will be a happy camper.


      PS: if you want to all the good stuff in Brave, just use uBlock Origin extension in Edge which will also be available in the new Edge.

  21. Avatar

    jbinaz

    I'm an "attractive classic edge user." At least according to my wife! ?

  22. Avatar

    techguy33

    Where's the value-add that makes it a compelling switch for Chrome users? Other chromium-based browsers such as Brave differentiate themselves with a privacy focus. What is Edge 75's differentiating focus? Or is the choice between Chrome and Edge 75 the difference between a Mercedes and a Mercedes with a different logo bolted on?

    • Avatar

      warren

      In reply to techguy33:


      The Mercedes analogy doesn't really work.


      "Google Chrome" is a layer of proprietary, closed-source stuff on top of "Chromium". This includes the auto-update mechanism, crash reporting, A/V codecs, DRM, and integration with Google services.


      Microsoft has got their own versions of all those things already built into Windows. If you're looking for a positive here, it means you won't have extra services like "Google Crash Handler" running on your machine 24/7.


      Edge also traditionally has had some features that Chrome lacked, such as being able to draw on web pages for annotations... pinning individual web pages to Start / Taskbar, and the ability to run individual tabs in their own VM.


      So if you aren't really invested in Google services beyond Chrome, then Edge will probably be a better choice. Unless Microsoft continues to only update Edge with new features in conjunction with feature updates..... if they do that, avoid it.


      Or maybe just switch to Firefox regardless of what happens with Chrome and Edge.

    • Avatar

      jecouch66

      In reply to techguy33:

      I believe Microsoft considers out of the box functionality the value add. You as an end user can start Edge, install your extensions, and begin browsing. Edge begins it's 'Life Of Browser,' happily mistaken for being the new Search messiah. Theoretically, anyway. But, if MS is to take a bite out of Google dominance, they have to start somewhere. Who knows, they might get it right this time.

  23. Avatar

    dontbe evil

    “Chredge” or “Edgium” ... never heard of these, probably paul knows more when comes to make fun of MS ... but never try to do the same about google or apple

  24. Avatar

    AlexKven

    As long as they still use the "e" logo, it'll still be internet explorer to most people.

  25. Avatar

    SvenJ

    You think 'leaked' is the right term? Seems that every major tech news venue 'has gotten their hands on a copy.' Seems a lot like the Apple 'leaks' we see every year.

  26. Avatar

    madthinus

    I like what Opera has done with chromium. You don’t use Opera and not think it is not Opera. It has an identity and features that is unique. Pop out video is something only they do on the desktop and it is amazing.


    My first choice for a browser remain Firefox. I find it handy to use multiple browsers. Opera is my default gmail and YouTube browser. I use twitter and Facebook in Edge. And everything else I use Firefox.

  27. Avatar

    Jeff Fodiak

    How will battery life compare with the current Edge and Chrome? Will Edge lose its battery advantage? Edge 75 doesn't seem to be built on UWP.

  28. Avatar

    locust infested orchard inc

    Quote by Paul Thurrott, "...there is the problem of naming. Many are using silly names like "Chredge" or "Edgium" to refer to the new browser...the leaked build of the Chromium-based version identifies itself as version 75.0.107.0. So I will refer to this new product as Edge 75 here."


    One can always count on Paul to sift through the madness and impulsiveness of others regarding matters of technology, where Paul reflects before arriving with a sound proposition.


    (Should there be any doubt, my comment is genuine).

  29. Avatar

    locust infested orchard inc

    Quote by Paul Thurrott, "It [Edge 75] looks like Chrome, behaves like Chrome, and appears to perform like Chrome."


    Nothing could be further from the truth with regards to the incessant and unabated data heist from all the users of Chrome.


    The prospect of Edge 75+ being the first mainstream browser to use the Chromium code without fear of data leakage, shall hopeful bring about a significant reduction of Chrome's percentage share of the browser market on Windows PCs. This may have a knock on effect with Windows Edge 75+ users opting to use Edge on their mobile devices for the purposes of syncing bookmarks, etc., thereby supplanting Chrome as their browser of choice, thus potentially resulting in a fall of Chrome usage on mobile devices too.


    If Paul's quote given above was in reference to Chrome (rather than Edge), then the exact quote with just a single word substitution would eloquently and succinctly describe Chrome, i.e.,


    'It [Chrome] looks like [a] Chrominal, behaves like [a] Chrominal, and appears to perform like [a] Chrominal.'

  30. Avatar

    hrlngrv

    Call me paranoid, but the only browser I'll use for online payments is Firefox.


    Can Blink-based Edge use any & all Chrome extensions?


    As for names, focus on the rendering engine: Bledge.

  31. Avatar

    amdman2017

    I've been using MS Edge since Windows 10 Came out, I like Edge, my primary browser, and use Chrome about 10 percent of the time depending on if I need to use it for something, but that is rare.


    Most of the time I hardly stop using MS Edge


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