Living on the (New) Edge: What’s Missing

Posted on April 15, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft Edge, Windows 10 with 23 Comments

Whether you’re coming from classic Edge, Chrome, or some other browser, the new Edge is probably missing a feature you need.

That’s understandable, as Microsoft has only been publicly testing this browser since last week, and probably won’t finalize the first shipping version until late 2019 at the earliest. But the absence of even a single missing key feature can make or break your experience. Which is why most people probably won’t want to dive into the new Edge at this early date despite my belief that this product is important and will ultimately benefit all users.

To me, the biggest issues right now are all related to sync.

Microsoft has disabled Google account sync in the new Edge and has replaced it with Microsoft account (MSA) sync. That makes sense, but it’s also incomplete. Today, you can only sync Favorites (bookmarks), and then only between instances of new Edge on Windows 10.

So what’s coming? Lots. Soon, you’ll be able to sync extensions, browser history, settings, open tabs, personal information for forms (addresses, phone numbers, and so on), and passwords too. That syncing will one day extend to the new Edge on Windows 7, 8.1, and Mac, and it will work with Timeline in Windows 10. It will one day include mobile Edge. And those in corporate and educational environments will be able to sync through Azure Active Directory (AAD) instead of MSA.

You can get around a lot of this by doing a one-time import of your personal data from your current browser, as I noted in Living on the (New) Edge: Getting Started last week. But this browser can’t ship publicly until it has a complete sync experience. That’s pretty much job one.

Microsoft has highlighted a set of areas in which it will focus on the initial shipping version of the new Edge. These include accessibility, ARM64 compatibility, authentication, battery life, editing, fonts, layout, (smooth) scrolling, security, tooling, touch, and web standards support.

Few of these are in the product at the time of this writing. But you can enable smooth scrolling, and another useful feature, Dark mode support, using the edge://flags/ interface. And that’s an interesting place to look if you’re looking for future feature support. (I’ll be writing more about this interface soon.)

Some of these features are works in progress, Microsoft says. It is actively working on adding support accessibility technologies like Microsoft UI Automation (UIA), a high-contrast display mode, Web VTT-based captioning support, native caret browsing, and Windows Text Services Framework support. And it is likewise just about ready to ship a native ARM64 version of the browser for Windows 10 on ARM PCs.

Other expected features will take a bit longer. Microsoft specifically calls out smooth scrolling and battery life improvements, noting that it would like to help all Chromium-based browsers have the smoothest scrolling experience and best battery life.

Beyond this, of course, is a long list of features that are unique to classic Edge. I first voiced my concerns for fans of classic Edge last week, noting that many of these features—which include its tab management functionality, Favorites pane, Reading list, ebooks support, smart pen-compatible annotation capabilities, and more—will likely never be ported to the new Edge.

In its announcement of the first Edge Insider Preview release, Microsoft did say that the early builds we’re now seeing are focused mostly on fundamentals and that it “will be refining the feature set over time based on the feedback we receive.” I’m not so sure about that: I think the feature set is pretty much set in stone, frankly, and that Microsoft already knows exactly what it will provide in the first shipping version of the new Edge.

But this is your chance to prove me wrong: If you are a fan and user of classic Edge and would like to see your favorite key features make their way into the new Edge, you should let Microsoft know. Being Microsoft, it never explains how you might do that, so I’ll tell you: You need to visit the Microsoft Edge Insider Preview forums and let Microsoft know what you expect. A thread called We’re Listening! is a good place to start. But also check out the Discussion space, and if you don’t see the issue you want being raised, you can start a discussion yourself.

You can also install the new Edge and then use the Send feedback (smiley face) icon in its toolbar. This is geared mostly towards describing a problem you’re currently experiencing. But you may find it useful for dropping Microsoft a quick note to let them know how you really feel.

I’ve already seen many changes since that first release a week ago, mostly for the good. For example, Reading View is there now. The workaround to changing the default search engine from Bing is no longer required. And a change mid-week last week broke the display of the Momentum new tab extension I prefer, but I see this morning that it’s already fixed. Nice.

I’ll keep reporting on important changes to the new Edge as Microsoft refines it, of course.

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Comments (23)

23 responses to “Living on the (New) Edge: What’s Missing”

  1. Aaron44126

    One thing I noticed people complaining about is the download experience. It works just like Chrome's. (Files automatically download to the "Downloads" folder, unless you hit a toggle in settings to prompt for the download location every time.) Classic Edge and IE users are used to being offered up the option to "Open" a downloaded file rather than "Save" it, which will dump the file in an unknown temporary location to (presumably) be cleaned up later, automatically. There is presently no option for this in Chrome, the file will always be dumped somewhere where you have to sorry about cleaning it up.


    For those like myself coming from Chrome or Firefox, they're already used to the current behavior, but for those coming from the Microsoft IE/Edge track, I can see how it would be an unwelcome surprise to have this option dropped.

  2. dcdevito

    I miss editable search engines (custom), the ones that allow you to hit ,Ctrl+ L + keyword + tab’. Without it I cannot use this browser.

  3. anderb

    How about giving Google and their real customers (i.e. advertisers) the finger and allow users (i.e. the product) to block autoplay completely?


    Google's stance on autoplay is like Microsoft's stance on Windows 10 updates: we're never going to give you what you're asking for but here's a convoluted alternative that's slightly less annoying than the current approach.


  4. lankyguy

    Thanks for the article. Any word on whether it supports extensions / add-ins like LastPass yet?

  5. dvdwnd

    If only the new Favorite sync will be better than today's. It's a complete farce now, where no two devices of mine have the same set of Favorites. Add to that periodic wipes of everything. The only way from here is up, so....

  6. PcGuy8088

    I haven't stored passwords in a browser for a very long time as I use a password manager. However push notifications from some websites do not work and MS has confirmed this is an issue. I have the Dev and Canary both installed however if you initially install Dev one has to set up and configure all your extensions manually and those extensions last week at least, were not being synced up to MS. This meant that if you wanted to see if Canary fixed an issue then the reconfiguration of your extensions and other settings had to be redone all over again.


  7. mattbg

    Does the Reading View still scroll sideways?


    While I very much like how Edge renders text, I never liked the look or side-scrolling behavior of the Reading View. Even Kindle lets you scroll books vertically now.

  8. mjakubicki

    When I installed Dev Edge, I already had all favorites , passwords, etc. on it the same like on Chrome

  9. chrishilton1

    One of the key missing features in education is reading mode, and is touted by Microsoft as one of the key education features in Windows 10. With this mode teachers only press on button to turn a page into an ad free page, safe to show a class of students, away from ads and dubious pictures a teacher would have to spend time before hand vetting.

    • mattbg

      In reply to chrishilton1:

      The 2nd last paragraph mentions that Reading View is back.


      I don't think Chrome includes this (for perhaps ad-related reasons), so that's a big improvement. There are plug-ins, but the quality is variable and some depend on the Mercury API which is going offline this month.

  10. JHeredia

    As someone who wasn't using Chrome, I really appreciate this series of articles and your articles on the potential enormity of this new Edge. I've been using it since it was leaked and have certainly found it to be superior. Thanks for the recommendation of Momentum as well, this new tab page is what I always wished classic(?) Edge had.

  11. RobertJasiek

    I won't use Edge at least until Windows telemetry becomes opt-in. Before, I distrust Edge and expect its unlawful privacy violation. Setting a different standard browser and protocol and blocking Edge in the Windows firewall have been insufficient: Edge still connects to Bing when clicking some links in the Windows settings. Next, I will blacklist Edge in Software Restriction Policies even for admin accounts and see whether that helps to silence the evil.

    • warren

      In reply to RobertJasiek:


      Where do you work, Robert?


      Just so the rest of us know never to apply there. You sound like a terrible IT administrator.

      • RobertJasiek

        In reply to warren:

        Instead of personal meta-discussion and personal attack, tell us how to completely confine or permanently deinstall Edge in W10 Pro and what would be wrong with using SRP for that purpose.

        • Todd Northrop

          In reply to RobertJasiek:

          You would probably uninstall Edge in the same manner that you would uninstall Safari in MacOS or iOS.

          • RobertJasiek

            In reply to Speednet:

            In W10, uninstalling Internet Explorer means that the installers remain. However, there is no simple uninstalling procedure for Edge. MS treats it as if it was an essential part of the OS.

            • RobertJasiek

              In reply to RobertJasiek:

              There are many up- or down-votes but few reasons. E.g., what are the down-votes for my last message for?

              It is a fact that, in W10, uninstalling Internet Explorer means that the installers remain, such as Program Files \ internet explorer \ ieinstal.exe or Program Files (x86) \ internet explorer \ ieinstal.exe or System32 \ ieframe.dll or SysWOW64 \ ieframe.dll.

              It is a fact that MS treats Edge as if it was an essential part of the OS: there is no uninstaller available from Programs | deinstallation, there is no feature removal option from Progams & Features, program files are protected by system ownership and access rights.

              The last time I deleted such a program manually, Windows resurrected it automatically. So I do not know whether manual taking ownership and access rights and deletion of Egde would have a permanent effect.

              It is a security gap that a program starts whose usage has been deactivated by assigning a different standard browser.

              It is a security gap that Windows violates its own firewall with respect to an applicaton (Edge). The firewall rule is: Outbound All_Profiles Active Block %SystemRoot% \ SystemApps \ Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge_8wekyb3d8bbwe \ MicrosoftEdge.exe Any Any TCP Any...

    • Stooks

      In reply to RobertJasiek:

      Either stay on Windows 7/Opera or whatever or move to Linux.....or remove your tin foil hat. The rest of the world will move along.

      • RobertJasiek

        In reply to Stooks:

        I used W7 until my old PC died. Current hardware does not fit well to W7. Moving to Linux presumes more time than currently I have, greatly restricts hardware choice, might not work with my scanner and presumes finding replacements for specialised software for which I do not know whether I will find some.

        Yes, I do use other browsers. That does not mean that I might not have an opinion on Edge. There are only a few reasonable browsers, which all change. New functionality / design can eliminate some from one's choice. Therefore, there should always be alternative choice. However, Microsoft's anti-privacy politics introduce further unnecessary restriction of remaining choice for everybody who cares.

        Rhetoric tricks (assigning your opinion to "the rest of the world") do not win arguments. In fact, usage statistics show just how relatively unpopular Edge is. For a preinstalled, all-intrusive browser, usage is embarrassingly low. Being intrusive is part of the problem.

        IMO, Edge has the nicest GUI of all browsers but GUI cannot bribe me to overlook data abuse.

        • Stooks

          In reply to RobertJasiek:

          "Being intrusive is part of the problem"


          That is so completely wrong as 60+% use Google Chrome.


          You need to "Follow the Money".


          In 2018 85.4% of all Google Revenue came from Advertising. They are so successful in this endevor because of the mountains and mountains of data they collect from their free data collection tools....aka software. (Android, Chrome, Chrome OS, Search, Gmail, Maps, YouTube etc.). Google barely makes any software or hardware that they actually sell or make revenue off of.


          Microsoft collects data to make their products better and I take them at their word. Yes they have an ad business but it is what 1.2% of the revenue? That is becaue they make products, software/services mostly but hardware as well.


          At work we use Chrome. Not becaues we want too, but because so many of our web based business apps both on prem and in the cloud work best with the Chromium engine. The vendors request that we use it.


          Unless Google jacks up Chromium on purpose, we are going to move to this new edge (we are all Windows 10 at this point, 5000+ desktops) and ditch Chrome. We use Office 365 so the Microsoft account tie in is huge, not to mention I bet they will have way better GPO's than any other browser.

  12. LuxuryTravelled

    Leaving the legacy Edge UX behind does seem somewhat odd, given their efforts in replicating the current design across both iOS and Android.


    I have more experience with Edge on iPad and I think that the current design trade off is absolutely correct. Its familiar enough to be Edge, but isn’t. At minimum there should should be some flexibility around favourites.


    Should add that Sync doesn’t work for me between Old Edge and iOS - completely useless, so I hope the new sync update when it comes for new Edge works better.

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