Hands-On with Microsoft’s New Edge Browser Built on Chromium

Posted on March 23, 2019 by Brad Sams in Microsoft with 38 Comments

Late last year, Microsoft notified the world that its browser, Edge, would be switching to the Chromium engine. Up until today, this browser has been locked behind the walls of Redmond but that I have managed to get my hands on the bits ahead of its release.

Upfront, this feels a lot like Chrome with Microsoft polish on top of it. But not even a lot of Microsoft polish as it doesnt have an fluent elements to it, but it does integrate with your Microsoft account. Further, there is an ‘on-boarding’ experience as well that helps you import your Chrome and other browser settings and configurations.

As I have said before, extensions will be supported from both the Microsoft store and the Chrome store. With a simple toggle switch, you can install native Chrome extensions in Edge without many issues. For me, Grammarly worked fine, but I am having trouble making 1Password work correctly.

When it comes to features, Edge has the one critical item that always kept me crawling back to Chrome. If you are on a webpage, you can easily turn it into an app, by clicking the three dots in the top right and clicking install app. This is huge, as it allows me to turn Google Calendar, Tweetdeck, and a few other pages into applications on my desktop that makes my workflow, a lot easier.

And for those curious, there is a dark mode for the browser.

Doing a very simple and non-scientific test, I opened classic Edge, new Edge, Chrome, and navigated to TweetDeck – a webpage that is typically considered heavy on resources. After letting them sit for five minutes after a fresh restart, you can see the results below (new Edge is in the middle).

As you would expect, the browser is fast and works quite well. Even if you were a fan of classic ‘Edge’, you will find a number of performance improvements with this new browser. And the fact that extensions work, scrolling is smooth, and you have tab customization options, I can seriously see myself switching away from Google’s product.

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