Microsoft Celebrates the One-Year Anniversary of Edge with New Themes, More

Posted on January 21, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft Edge with 10 Comments

One year ago, Microsoft launched a very incomplete new Edge for the masses. Today, Edge is in much better shape, and now it’s getting some new features too. Key among them are new themes.

“We’ve heard your requests to make Edge more personal with themes, and today we’re excited to announce that we’ve added over two dozen themes to the Microsoft Edge Add-ons site,” Microsoft’s William Devereux writes. “When you apply a theme, you’ll notice a new background on your new tab page. Your tabs, address bar, and other parts of the browser will also take on the look of the theme for a more immersive experience. We’ve even added support for vertical tabs, a new feature you Insiders have been helping us test.”

As Devereux notes, there is indeed a wide variety of new themes, but I hope you like Halo or other Microsoft video games, because that’s pretty much all I can see in there. More are on the way, of course.

“We’ll continue growing our collection of themes, and in the coming months we’ll be adding support for anyone to submit their own themes,” he adds. “Soon, you’ll even be able to select a theme color directly from the Edge Settings as well.”

And theme support isn’t the only new Edge feature that Microsoft is announcing today. Also new are:

Sidebar search. Now generally available in Microsoft Edge, Sidebar search can be accessed by highlighting a word, right-clicking, and choosing Search. A side panel will open displaying search results so you can get answers without having to navigate away from the current page.

Tab sleeping. Microsoft Edge will now try to boost browser performance by automatically putting unused tabs to sleep, improving memory and CPU resource usage. “When you have several tabs open, it will release system resources for inactive tabs to help power new or existing tabs as well as other applications, preventing slowdowns and sluggishness,” Microsoft says. “To get started, enable the sleeping tabs option in the browser Settings menu.” I recommend not enabling this feature if you rely on tabs keeping you up-to-date as I do; this screws with my email and RSS notifications.

History and tab sync. As I reported earlier, Microsoft is finally bringing browser history and tab sync to the new Edge.

Password generator. As with the new Chrome version released this week, the new Edge is picking up a password generator that will automatically suggest a secure password when you’re changing an existing password or signing up for a new online account.

Email from the New Tab page. Starting this month, you’ll start to see incoming emails from right on Edge’s New Tab page. There’s also a new Outlook smart tile, which displays your three most recent emails, and links for creating a new email message or meeting request. You will need to enable these features first: Open a new tab, select the plus (“+”) sign beside the quick links, and then find Outlook under Suggestions.

Automatic profile switching on macOS. Automatic Profile Switching finally makes its way to macOS this month, letting Mac users switch between work and home profiles automatically when visiting specific sites. You will need to make sure your organization enabled the automatic profile feature first.

Fluent Design icons. Microsoft Edge is finally starting to add some Fluent design system elements to its UI, starting with icons. In the latest version of Edge, you will see “subtle updates to icons in Microsoft Edge that are rounder and softer in appearance,” Microsoft says. “They are built from a consistent key-line and grid which allows for more visual consistency when scanning menus, lists, etc. This is just the beginning of our design journey and we’re already imagining how to bring Fluent design throughout our products.”

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Comments (10)

10 responses to “Microsoft Celebrates the One-Year Anniversary of Edge with New Themes, More”

  1. richardbottiglieri

    Nice! I typically bounce between Firefox and Edge, but these are some nice improvements. I'm not seeing history/tab sync yet on Edge Stable for Windows, but it's been there on macOS for a little while now. Best of all, the advances in Firefox and Edge have finally allowed me to ditch Chrome for good and remove it from my devices.

  2. compunut

    I haven't been keeping careful track of the progress on Edge, but what happened to vertical tabs? I remember seeing that they were going to add it but never saw an announcement that it went to the release version. Is it there or did they abandon the idea?

  3. madthinus

    Vertical tabs?

  4. tonchek

    I had to uninstall Edge from Android. Battery hog...

  5. byroncon

    Sidebar Search is a pleasant surprise. I never would have expected I would, but I use it a few times a day. Nothing world changing, but it helps with the little things (definitions, obscure references, etc).

    Unfortunately Tab sync is useless to me until it works on mobile. Research on a large screen, then refer to it on the mobile.

  6. curtisspendlove

    Dunno about anyone else...but I’m very much digging Edge. It’s my default on Windows and any Linux distro I can get it on.

    I still use Safari on macOS primarily due to optimization reasons. But I have Edge installed and use it for Chrome compatibility.

  7. j5

    It's come a long way in a short time. I remember all the outrage about Edge moving to Chromium, no competition, and "Google is winning." But for me, I was using Firefox as my daily driver back then and a lot of the education and school district websites (to check grades and kids accounts) wouldn't work or worked really bad on Firefox. So I'd have to install the district's apps or install Chrome JUST to check those education websites. And they were just as wonky on old Edge too.

    With Edge now ALL the sites I go to work as they're supposed to. I feel like Edge is faster than Firefox. It's actually more minimal looking than Firefox (talk about ironic considering it's a Microsoft product). Edge now compared to old Edge at it's latest stage is light years better!

    I'm curious if Google is worried at all about Edge now being able to start taking away some of it's users?

  8. b6gd

    My company just removed Chrome from over 6000 computers the first week of January. Edge was made the default browser in October of last year but we left Chrome around just in case.

    Not only was Chromed removed in favor of the new Edge, but Bing is the default search engine since we use Office 365/Sharepoint online etc and you can use Bing to search those resources. Users cant even change Bing. They can go to Google site to search.

  9. truerock2

    I have switched from Firefox to Edge.

    UserID/Password capture has improved tremendously and that was a major decision issue for me.

    I wish that the vertical Favorites bar could be moved to the left side.

    I wish that the width of the vertical Favorites bar could be adjusted.

    I'd like an option to specify a blank page for a new tab. I use the "Focused" option for now.

  10. davidblouin

    I use app mode a lot, my start screen is fill with them and for some site i even have more than one shortcut with each pointing to a different Edge profil and since upgrading to 88 those shortcuts are deleted on first open, i recreate them and it seems to work cause it automatically open them in app mode in the right profil but then i close them and open up again and they open on profil #1 instead of #2 or #3. Really not digging the upgrade. :(