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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Comments (38)

38 responses to “Hands-On with Microsoft’s New Edge Browser Built on Chromium”

  1. jlmerrill

    "by clicking the three dots in the top right and clicking install app"


    Don't see this in Chrome on my PC.


    

  2. Daekar

    If the new Edge is good enough, there will be no reason to install Chrome.


    Brad,

    Does it support multiple identities?

  3. CaymanDreamin

    Brad, does it have pen support for PDFs?

  4. Paul York

    Don't suppose they are implementing MRU tab ordering for ctrl+tab, are they? Drives me bonkers that atl+tab is MRU for window switching, but ctrl+tab is sequential for tab switching. Only Firefox now even allows it as an option.

  5. nbplopes

    Incredible how Internet Browsers in the Windows PC is still major prosumer interest ... thing.


    This, keyboards and calculators ...

    • codymesh

      In reply to nbplopes:

      it is the out-of-the-box browser, and if IE and Samsung Internet has taught us anything, it's that people do use the inbox browser. So it matters. Doesn't matter if prosumers don't care

  6. codymesh

    Looks surprisingly...compelling. I'm not a big fan of how Google has slowly blurred the line between my activity in the web browser and my activity in google services, switching to Edgium will make the distinction a little more clear (although Windows now also records OS activity for Timeline), pffft


    I just hope Microsoft doesn't mess it up by adding superfluous features to it, or god forbid, they fork it. Keep it nice and lean, and just cover the basics. Better yet, enable apps to tap into the engine so that developers no longer have to package their own engines in their apps.

  7. Greg Green

    So what happens to all the edge cruft? Does that eventually get weeded out?

  8. HellcatM

    Brad, the question I have is how is it with memory? With Edge it would use up a lot of memory when I had a lot of tabs open, so much so it would bog down my system quite a bit. This would make the difference if I use it or not. Sometimes I'll have 20-40 tabs open and if it slows down my computer to an almost halt, I'll stop using it. If its good with memory, I'll be happy. Right now I'm using Vivaldi and Opera and both are good with memory.

  9. petrolemo

    Great but will Edge stop deleting all my favorites every few months for no reason? If so I'll consider moving back to Edge.

  10. brettscoast

    Thanks Brad its a solid if unspectacular start for the new edge browser will be interested in yourself and Paul's comments posts going forward as to how well it stacks up against firefox and chrome

  11. justme

    I've never understood the fascination with pinning websites to your desktop to turn them into "apps." While I've done it a couple times, I always end up just going back to the browser. Might just be the way I use my desktop (I tend to have a clean desktop and use it as a workspace.) I also tend to not run 'apps' on my PCs (programs yes, apps in the traditional sense, no. I will go to a webpage every time over a PWA) Not a criticism, just an observation. I have no doubt lots of people do it, nor do I doubt that they (like yourself) find it hugely useful.

  12. nfeed2000t

    I think we all expect the browser to perform well. What I care about:

    Will syncing and password management will work as well as chrome?

    Will production releases include versions for Windows, Mac, AND Linux?

    Will there be any privacy improvements?

    Will there be any more bloat added Chrome?


    Initially the the Settings look cleaner and easier to navigate and read than Chrome.

  13. Bdsrev

    Brad, does it have the same integrated ad-blocker as Chrome on by default?

  14. MikeCerm

    Does syncing let you set a passphrase like other Chromium based browsers, or is Microsoft getting access to your full web history and passwords if you enable sync?

  15. LurkingGrue

    Yeah, call me when they add tab containers like in Firefox. (Probably the best new browser feature ever)


    Until then Edge is going to keep being the browser I used to install stuff after a first install of windows.



    • MikeCerm

      In reply to LurkingGrue:

      I love Firefox and that is a really nice feature, but Firefox needs a lot of work in other areas. Proper touchscreen support would be nice, and stop storing passwords in plaintext. I use a password manager for most things, but it's helpful to be able to store some passwords in the browser. The Master Password is feature is helpful, but too annoying.

    • Daekar

      In reply to LurkingGrue:

      This is the one feature that will keep me with Firefox. I have 4 identities for different organizations I have to keep separate.

  16. martinusv2

    Cool, what I love from Edge is scrolling smoothness and quality of text. Do you see the same thing so far in the Chromium version Brad?

  17. Dan1986ist

    Wonder if the public release of Chromium Edge for testing will be out around the same time as Windows 10 Version 1903's RTM ?

  18. MikeCerm

    How is the font rendering -- good like old Edge, or blurry like Chrome?

  19. flying_maverick

    What's the URL to download?