Given up on Microsoft Edge

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So after a year of using Microsoft Edge, I have gone back to Chrome. The main reason for it is because i’ve found Edge to be really unstable, but after switching, I realize that Chrome isn’t quite the clear-cut winner either. I’m writing this to share my experiences with the two browsers.

Speed.

Google Chrome feels….kinda slow? Microsoft Edge is screaming fast and Chrome almost feels pedestrian in comparison. Indeed, browser benchmarks show that the race for the fastest browser is sort of a tie between Edge, Chrome, and Opera. In any case, speed-wise, going from Edge to Chrome isn’t quite the upgrade it used to be.

Memory Usage.

Chrome has clearly improved it’s memory usage over the gap year I’ve ignored it. Chrome’s task manager continues to report the “full” memory usage of the individual tabs, but there’s clearly some optimization going on, because looking at the individual processes of Chrome.exe in Windows’ task manager reveals a smaller memory footprint for tabs left in the background.

As a result, Chrome is able handle way more tabs than Edge does on my PC. Edge also uses more memory per tab, worsening the issue. Edge also unloads/suspends tabs in the background sometimes, but the behavior of that is unpredictable. Edge also appears to be not able to plug memory leaks from some complex webpages, and leaving such a tab open with the webpage in the background will just cause its memory usage to balloon over time without your knowledge. Edge will sometimes unload/suspend the tab – but only if you’re lucky

Nonetheless, most of the time, Edge is fine, until you somehow run into the limits of 8gb of RAM.

Stability.

There is no contest. I’ve run into websites in Edge that simply do not play nice, the tab would keep crashing and reloading itself, until it eventually gives up and displays the “there seems to be a problem displaying this page” message. Sometimes this will take the entire browser down, sometimes the browser closes itself for no reason, and sometimes, the browser will freeze up momentarily. These momentary freezes completely mar up an otherwise screaming fast browser.

I’ve also had this problem where sometimes, the browsing history simply will not show up, and sometimes only it will only show *some* history (!).

None of this happens with Chrome, and even when it does, it’s rare.

Scrolling.

I’m singling scrolling performance out in particular because of how god damn good Edge is with it. It’s almost as if you’re using Safari on a Mac. When I left Chrome a year ago, it didn’t even have smooth scrolling. Chrome seems to have decent scrolling now, but it can be choppy on certain websites. On Edge, smooth scrolling is almost always 60fps smooth, even when the page is unresponsive (?!). It’s almost as if the page’s scrolling render is running on a different thread or something. Don’t take my word for it: open the most complex webpage you know of in Edge, scroll around, and compare it with Chrome. Night and day.

Font rendering.

When I left Chrome a year ago, Google was still working on implementing DirectWrite font rendering, and so it wasn’t enabled by default. You could enable with a flag, but it caused stability issues. DirectWrite font rendering in Chrome appears to be enabled by default now. Fonts looks much better, but I am still seeing blurry and jagged fonts. Much better than what it used to be…but it can be better.

Chrome has historically bad HiDPI support before they dropped support for XP, and so I suspect all this would look better at 100% display scaling, but of course, i’m on a modern laptop and I actually need 125%. Would love to do 150%, but that would f%^k up other programs on my computer.

Edge’s font rendering is flawless in comparison. You’d really have to nitpick to find what little problems it has, given if you could even spot them to begin with. It’s really this little bit of eye-candy that gives Edge that modern browser look IMO, more than it’s UI. It’s the way it makes webpages shine……..when it doesn’t crash.

Features and Extensions.

I’m not even going to pretend that Chrome isn’t the clear winner here. Chrome also makes me realize how much I actually miss a browser that syncs with my phone. Logging in with my Google Account in Chrome makes all the magic work, and it actually feels worth it, unlike logging in to Edge with a Microsoft Account.

Chrome also has a bookmark manager – wow! – something which I can’t believe Edge doesn’t have.

Edge has Web Notes – wow! – which I almost never use. It’s a flagship feature of the browser which I think might have been better off being a part of the Windows Ink Workspace and Photos app (which supports ink now) instead of being a browser feature.

Edge also has some extensions now – wow! – and I think people will find that it covers some basics, like uBlock Origin, RES, Ghostery and Tampermonkey, but it doesn’t cover some other basics like LastPass (EDIT – I was wrong, Edge has LastPass!) As some of these important extensions found their way into the Windows Store in less than a year, I think this situation will improve really quickly in the next few years, and all the basics that people expect should be covered. For now, people that need many extensions are going to find it lacking. People like me don’t use extensions, even on Chrome, so the lack of extensions never bothered me.

What I think will bother people, is the lack of cross-device sync and the lack of a f*cking bookmark manager. Seriously! Microsoft, what the f*ck.

CPU usage and impact on battery life.

Some people think this is a weird thing to bring up when comparing browsers, but I think impact on battery life is something people should care about. Chrome and Edge appear to have similar CPU usage when idle, and watching HD video, but when doing heavy surfing and multitasking (multitabbing?) in the browser, Chrome hits the battery much harder than Edge. Both Edge and Chrome report similar CPU usage in Task Manager, but Chrome makes the processor step up it’s p-state more frequently, even hitting the boost clocks, something which rarely happens when using Edge.

It is to be noted that a year ago, Chrome used to make the fans on my laptop come on pretty often, but that seems to be a thing of the past, and it’s a little more reasonable now. However, from what I can tell, you lose around 30 to 50 minutes of battery life when using Chrome compared to Edge. My laptop also runs warmer. Ugh.

Conclusion

I think the lack of a bookmark manager, along with reliability and stability issues of Edge really set it back. While you get better memory usage on Chrome, you also lose battery life, and lose smooth scrolling. Edge gives you amazing font rendering but you lose Google Account sync. It feels like a bit of give and take on both sides, and the gap between Chrome and Edge isn’t as far as what people may think it is. However, the scale tips in Chrome’s favor because going with Edge makes you give up features that people consider rudimentary, such as reliability+stability, and a bookmark manager.

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