Some Thoughts About Microsoft Edge and Updating

Posted on May 1, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 60 Comments

Some Thoughts About Microsoft Edge and Updating

A new report suggests that Microsoft will finally take the long-awaited step of updating its Edge web browser through Windows Store. This is the right thing to do, but then that’s always been the case. Is this a case of too little, too late?

“According to internal sources, users will finally be able to get updates to the Edge browser via the Windows Store, which will allow Microsoft to add new features more frequently,” Neowin’s Rich Woods writes in his report. “The change [happens] in September, when the next feature update to Windows 10, codenamed Redstone 3, is released.”

As you must know, I’ve been calling on Microsoft to do this for almost two years now. And to be fair, the software giant has long intended to do this, and for the reason that Rich states: Once Edge servicing moves into the Windows Store, Microsoft can update it far more frequently that it has so far.

So let’s check the score. To date, Microsoft has shipped four major Windows 10 releases, each of which has come with a major Microsoft Edge release.

In the same time period—July 2015 through March 2017, Google shipped 14 versions of Chrome to its stable channel (meaning actual public releases that everyone gets): Chrome 44 arrived in July 2015, and version 57 arrived this March. (Google is currently testing version 60.)

So there’s the score: 14 to 4.

No, most of these Chrome releases were not as “major” as the four Edge releases. But they didn’t need to be, as Chrome is more mature and functional than Edge.

And let’s be honest: Those Chrome updates, despite the frequency, were far less disruptive than any one of the Edge updates. This is true because Edge updates are tied to the Windows servicing schedule, but it’s also true because each Edge release was a major functional upgrade with tons of sometimes confusing new features.

I’ve written some version of this story several times already, of course. In fact, I often feel like I’m yelling at an oncoming tsunami, unaware that my increasingly shrill complaining will do nothing to stop the obvious future that is crashing down around me.

The logic which I apply to such matters can sometimes be countered by information I don’t have. Microsoft has, for example, occasionally confided to me that there are real, solid reasons they do the things they do, that life is often more complex than the black and white way I can see things.

I get that, actually. But I’m confident of two things here: One, that Microsoft could often do itself a favor by explaining itself better. And that, in this case, there is no excuse.

See, here’s the problem, and it’s irrefutable.

Microsoft introduced a brand new, standards-compliant web browser in mid-2015. This browser, Microsoft Edge, came into a world in which its then-current browser, Internet Explorer, was viewed with either open hostility or outright ambivalence by virtually everyone who used it. More important, this new browser arrived woefully incomplete and needed to be updated rapidly, not slowly.

But that’s not what Microsoft did. Microsoft tied Edge to Windows 10, guaranteeing that it would never be updated quickly. This move also guaranteed that Edge would be a non-event in mobile, which is where the majority of web browsing occurs today. Put simply, Microsoft did the opposite of what it should have done. And I don’t see anything it does now with Edge making a difference. This browser will never be popular.

Worse—especially for those who do want to use Microsoft products and services—it’s still too damn easy to identify a laundry list of features and functionality that are still not available in Microsoft Edge. So despite those admittedly major updates, Edge is still very broken.

We’re just a few months away from the Windows 10 two-year anniversary. And Edge is still very broken.

 

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Comments (60)

60 responses to “Some Thoughts About Microsoft Edge and Updating”

  1. webdev511

    Yes, it should have been decoupled at RTM or the very latest TH2. While Windows 10 may use the Edge engine to render somethings, that should mean you just completely stop updating the browser. Yes some features might need actual testing, but why not have an insider's program for Edge?

  2. ponsaelius

    Or Microsoft could do what they did with Internet Explorer - download it from their website or push it with Windows update.


    The store doesnt matter in the context of updating.

  3. EZAB

    Paul don't forget about Mozilla Firefox. The current version is 53.0. I use it and it's not that bad. I do not use Google, period.

  4. HoloLensman

    "So there’s the score: 14 to 4."


    Higher does not equate to more improvements, only faster releases. Lower is better. So Edge is +10. I think that 2 to 4 updates per year is enough. Chrome, sadly, ceased being usable 3 or 4 years ago. I hope that Edge never becomes anything like Chrome. The current version of Edge, unlike Chrome, is a very good browser. A few more UI tweaks is all I want.

  5. rameshthanikodi

    Web notifications in Edge are a joke. It doesn't even look like Microsoft is serious about providing the best experience for web apps, leaving the door open to Google once again. Instead they have Web Notes - woohoo! - and new features like being able to read EPUB files and setting tabs aside. Plus now we know they are doing additional work to make the browser an app, something which should have been on day 1. The whole thing reeks of mismanagement. God save them.

    Deal with the web as it is, not how you wish it was.

  6. irfaanwahid

    I personally don't mind Edge getting updates twice in a year, provided they're big updates and closes the gap faster than their competition. One of the features I miss so much is RSS feed, which IE supports. I wonder what has taken them so long to at least bring features which Edge's father IE has supported for years. Bookmarking is still terrible.


    I believe there is focused team working on Edge alone, what takes them so long? Or are they working in parallel with other developments, I fail to understand why Edge isn't a priority.

    • illuminated

      In reply to irfaanwahid:

      One of the big reasons could be Windows platform. Edge is UWP (universal windows platform) app and UWP is half-baked. When I try to use UWP just for "fun" I find all kinds of weird things which is to be expected from newly developed giant piece of software with enormous number of APIs. Maybe we should consider Edge as Microsoft's attempt to test their APIs. That test just happens to be a web browser.

  7. Chris Blair

    I may be weird, but I use both Edge and Chrome almost every day. I prefer certain aspects of each. In any case I don't consider Edge broken.

  8. chriswong13

    Yeah, it's been out for a couple of years, I there's still no sort option for favorites in the Favorites bar. So many simple things that could easily be taken care of with a number of incremental updates...

  9. IanYates82

    On my Intel compute stick (1st gen) I've found chrome can just be too heavy to the point where the system will freeze the mouse for a few seconds. Edge, now with ublock origin added (godsend!), has become the best thing on there. On everything else though, at the moment, I'm still using Chrome.

  10. edboyhan

    I take exception to the fact that Edge is "broken". It's the only browser I use on all my W10 machines. In many ways it behaves better than Chrome. Certainly in my preferred work style of keeping lots of tabs open Edge has a real performance "Edge" over Chrome -- and with the set tabs aside feature (once you get the hang of how to use it effectively) running with 30-75 open tabs works really really well on Edge.

    Yes Chrome updates frequently, and with every update some aspect of something on my high dpi displays breaks, and endless tweaking ensues to get back to something reasonable. I've never had that problem on Edge.

    There are, however, some interactive web pages (most embarrassingly on the MS partner sites) that don't render/work correctly (they do on IE12).

    OTOH, I agree with you Edge should just be a UWP app with an update cadence completely disconnected from the W10 cadence.

    While we're on the subject of apps, I use outlook.com for email. I access it both from the outlook.com web page, and the email UWP app. One of the frustrating things is that both these clients have slightly different capabilities, and quite different UI's. I wish that both had identical feature and UI parity.


  11. Ugur

    The part i don't get is how MS intends to get any high market share when their browser is not on all platforms.

    One of the main reasons i use chrome is because i can sync things like open sites/tabs across all my devices

    • illuminated

      In reply to Ugur:

      Why do you think MS intends to get market share? To me it looks like they are deliberately trying to minimize it. Edge is UWP app which mean Windows 10 only. It would not even run on older windows version. High market share my a##

  12. Whiplash55

    Updating more than once or twice a year is a no brainer, the new Edge is competitive enough for many users but lacks a lot of features advanced users. I still use Chrome, Firefox, and Opera and they all have more features than Edge. Ublock Origin is now available and it's regarded by many as the best ad blocker out there so that's a plus. The app that annoys me the most is Groove, still can't buy music or subscribe to podcast like the old (and still excellent) Zune app...

  13. JanesJr1

    I'm not normally a Polyanna, but I have to say, I have all the browsers and as Edge matured, I switched back and forth. But more and more, I keep coming back to Edge, because it's just faster and a lighter battery load. That matters a lot more to me than the occasional freeze-up or missing tab feature. That's what really affects productivity. (And BTW, Edge DOES have a full-screen toggle, win-shift-enter.)


    I guess I wish it were cross-platform, and had more bells and whistles, but not because I really need those things. It's become software that I rely on, and I want it to be successful so I can keep using it.

  14. johnlavey

    I have used them all: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Vivaldi, Safari on my Apple devices...and Edge. I am devoted to Chrome because it just works better.


    I like Edge. The pages load faster than the other browsers. I WANT Edge to work flawlessly because I like it. The fonts, the settings, the features are good. But invariably as I am using Edge and I am confident that it's great and works better than any other browser....something happens: minor inconveniences.... a pane moves, a save-as freezes, a favorites group disappears. These 'minor' inconveniences scare me. So I stop using Edge and go crawling back to Chrome. Chrome gives me confidence and almost never disappoints.


    But I know I will go back to the Edge again and hope it's better than when I used it last week. Enough to keep me there. I hope I won't be disappointed.

  15. GarethB

    8-9 years ago I recall almost identical urging of Microsoft to look at the iPhone tsunami. They replied with "the iPhone validates their smartphone goals" or some similar bulldust. We know now what we suspected then - they didn't have times to dawdle and get it right in a few years.


    This looks very much the same. Microsoft fiddling whilst their browser marketshare burns. We're *2* years after Win10 (and Edge) rollout and they're still planning for this change in coming months?


    Seriously?

  16. Awhispersecho

    I mostly use Edge now. Loads fast and I have so many Windows machines that I like the bookmark syncing. Except on phones, because you know. Not 1 device can sync with Edge on Windows Mobile 10. Drives me insane. I have 6 Windows 10 devices in my house and my Edge bookmarks sync between all of them. Yet, none of them will sync with Edge on Windows phone.


    Speaking of bookmarks, there's still no logical, good way to organize bookmarks. Why we can't organize bookmarks like we could in IE is beyond me. It's awful. I use it because I am a glutton for punishment and I refuse to use anything Google related.


    I do use Firefox occasionally and every couple months or so I give Opera a shot. I have tried a handful of other lesser known browsers as well but at this point I need to choose my battles. I'm just tired of everything with MS and tech in general being a fight. So I've surrendered, I've been beaten down and now with adguard installed, I use Edge mostly because I no longer have the energy to keep looking for something better.

  17. chrisrut

    A very sad state of affairs indeed. Somebody, somewhere, thought it was a good idea...

  18. Lewk

    I'm often confused by these articles as most people I know and talk to are using Edge as their main or only browser.

  19. Jeff Jones

    I feel like someone behind the scenes said "I don't care what other browsers can do, give me something no one else is doing".

    So we ended up with a browser than can view web pages and has quirky features that no one else would bother to implement.

  20. wright_is

    One thing to bear in mind is, that Edge gets monthly security updates and some of the Chrome updates are security updates as well. That doesn't excuse Edge's situation, but you are comparing apples and oranges a little.

  21. slerched

    "Those Chrome updates, despite the frequency, were far less disruptive than any one of the Edge updates."


    I guess this depends on your perspective. For normal home users, maybe. For Enterprise, where some things just matter, let's talk about one that just happened: Flash content disabled by default.


    I love it. It makes sense. It means less opportunity for malware and other poop. But to a user who expects an internal, Intranet service to just work, without having to educate a body of regular users, it's disruptive as all hell.


    And to most users, who don't follow change logs, they just know their pages don't work, and call help desk. We don't manage Chrome anymore, we just let it update, and it's bit us in the ass at least twice in the last year alone.


    So it depends on how you define disruptive. I'm not saying Edge will be better, but I'm pretty sure changes in either could potentially be a lot more disruptive than you give credit.



  22. Jules Wombat

    Since Creators Update corrupted Edge for me, it crashes every time, with no obvious fix from Microsoft. So Microsoft cannot seem to deliver robust web Browser anymore, have moved on to Firefox.

    Users cannot uninstall, or attempt reinstall of Edge, because Microsoft cannot code a basic web browser anymore.

    My recommendation is simply to give up trying to develop a web browser.

  23. illuminated

    Edge is crashing constantly on my system now. It just quietly closes no questions asked. I used it for a few months but now I just have to go to Chrome or Firefox. I sincerely hate this.

  24. Viktor Navarro

    Edge is a slow buggy mess, at least for me. None of the news and articles about this new development mention anything about separate Windows Store updates for Edge are going to be any better than the useless updates we've been having so far for the entire system. I guess it's still impossible to uninstall it as well.

    It's Windows Phone all over again.


  25. Omega Ra

    An example. Yesterday during the EDU stream, I was trying to watch in Edge, things were choppy and the sound was weird...switched over to Chrome...buttery smooth. I really keep trying to like and use Edge (using it right now as I type this) but Microsoft is not making it easy. Once they uncouple it from Windows (assuming this is true) then perhaps it will be more viable...but who knows.

  26. harmjr

    I don't think Edge is "broken" but that Edge is still in Beta form. It still missing the best parts of a browser.

    You know on Android you have to download Chrome from the Google Play Store I think Microsoft should do this.

  27. 880510

    Edge is the best tablet browser, IMO. I much prefer it to chrome and safari. In desktop mode I use edge first, with Chrome as backup, for the inevitable site that doesn't work with edge. Chrome on my android is not as easy to work with touch. Safari on my iPad has more issues with sites than Edge. This is my impression as I don't keep stats ?

    Really liking reading list built into Edge.

    What I do wish is that Microsoft didn't market Edge as the next best thing since sliced bread, because although I prefer it, I can understand why people don't particularly like it as desktop environment and marketing it as the best choice makes it look worse.

    Opinions are my own. And my real opinions, not representative of the company for which I work.

    • Polycrastinator

      In reply to 880510:

      This. Rendering on Edge is great. Touch response and use on Edge is great. It's maybe because I don't use a lot of plugins (uBlock Origin and LastPass only), but it's fine for my needs. I do occasionally bump into sites that don't work, but it's increasingly a rarity for me.

  28. Bdsrev

    But the version of Edge in the creators update is excellent... certainly far better than Firefox.


    A much smarter and better change would be, allow ALL Windows 10 users to test the Beta version of Edge, no Windows Insider builds necessary. Simply install Edge Beta from the Store app :)

  29. lwetzel

    This may be a tad off topic but here goes. Didn't MS add a reset for Edge somewhere in the Settings? I have been looking to find it and it may be old-timers but I was sure it was introduced at some point.

  30. Shmuelie

    The problem Microsoft has with updating Edge rapidly is the same one the have with updating IE rapidly: App dependency. Every UWP apps that are build using the JavaScript bindings against UAP depend on it for rendering. That includes almost all the "built in" apps like Mail. This means updating Edge it tied to update UAP and the bindings against it.

  31. Darmok N Jalad

    Edge will never amount to much as a Windows-only browser. Considering MS has already done the unthinkable and put Office on iOS and Android, why is it so hard to make its browser cross-platform?The competition (Firefox, Chrome, even Opera) has a browser on the major platforms, and it's no secret that people do a lot of browsing from mobile devices these days. With W10M going backwards, there is basically no mobile browsing with Edge, and I think enough people like syncing across devices. I know I use it all the time, so why would I ever use Edge?

  32. mbszyma

    I agree with all your thoughts about Edge as a consumer. But maybe we should be thinking more in terms of an Enterprise. The Enterprise has used and is captured by applications tied to IE. To move them off an insecure/old IE to a more modern browser Microsoft may have established Edge as a replacement. Edge appears to focus on two points. The first is standards implementation. That will insure that any new Web application can be used by any browser including Edge. The second focus is security. If Edge is “integrated” into the operating system and can use some of the security features of the OS, Edge should be more secure overall. Think of this as embrace and extend strategy. 

  33. JerryH

    From what I recall - and I don't have a link as this may have come from a face to face meeting or some such - the plan was to update Edge features only through the store. This is a subtle difference meaning that the rendering engine, javascript engine, security sandbox, etc. would continue to be updated only with Windows upgrades. Features such as things like Favorites handling, etc. that can be handled in the Edge app itself and not in the various engines and Windows components would be updated via the store.

    • Elindalyne

      In reply to JerryH:

      They can't really update the rendering engine or javascript engine w/o changing how UWP using the WebView control work, and it would be a bad idea to do that outside of a Windows version release. Not that UWP has a lot of devs, but that would drive me batty if it were to happen to something I was working on.


      Oh wait, it happens all the time with web development.

  34. Bats

    Wait...I don't understand, how does Edge being tied to Windows 10 make it a "nonevent" in mobile? Not only does Microsoft have to explain things better, but so does Paul. After all, Chrome is tied to ChromeOS in Chromebooks, but is also available for every operating system. Why can't Microsoft do the same thing. That's just bologna from both Microsoft and Paul. If that is really the case for Edge,...then UNTIE it. It's just software.

    All the major websites today (ALL OF THEM, as 100%) has restructured their website to consider the mobile device. In actuality,...apps today, are nothing more than an shell for the company's website, just like AOL was a shell or a UI to navigate the web. If Microsoft can focus on EDGE to be on both smartphones as well as desktop then they have a fighting chance or take marketshare away from Chrome. If Microsoft can focus on that, instead of the silly NONFACTOR about battery life, then Edge can be relevant to both the user and DEVELOPERS. Duh....

  35. Roger Ramjet

    I hope someone was fired for the Edge debacle. I still use it today, stubbornly, but it is clear it should not have been released until it was ready. That is just extremely basic i's and t's. Why would you drive away loyal customers into the arms of a waiting competitor in that way? And still today, right now a few minutes ago, I go to a run of the mill website and it advises me to switch to either chrome or firefox because Edge does not support x or y see it below:


    Due to technical limitations outside our control, the Edge web browser doesn't support interactive sheet music files. We recommend using Chrome or Firefox to access awesome features like transposition and playback.


    If schools in #MicrosoftEDU will be encountering stuff like these, how frustrating would the experience be to use the forthcoming Windows Cloud, or what is the benefit to Microsoft to go through all that trouble, set a default brower, and have all of the students simply switch to Chrome???

    • illuminated

      In reply to Roger Ramjet:

      Interactive sheet music files are very important for average internet user I guess :)

      Edge is "modern" app that runs in a sandbox. It is unable to do a lot of things due to API limitations. Switch your students to Chrome and just live with it until Microsoft figures out how to make "modern" apps that can get out of sandbox.

  36. Waethorn

    Making the HTML rendering in the browser the same one that is used for compiled web apps makes about as much sense as using IE4 as your file browser.

  37. PlistConverter

    It is never to late, but they should have develope Edge as an UWP app from the start of Windows 10...

  38. Simard57

    Edge being confined to the Windows platform seems to make it hard to compete with with Chrome that is on all platforms.


    I do not read much in the Apple-centric world but do they get bashed for Safari being confined to IOS and MAC OS? Granted they have a solid performer in the iPhone but it doesn't compare to the Android market share.

    • Darmok N Jalad

      In reply to Simard57:

      I don't think they do. At one time, there was a Safari for Windows, but it must not have been worth the effort to continue, as it has been gone for years. You can use Firefox or Chrome on all Apple devices as well, but on iOS, they are just wrappers over Safari that sync appropriately.

    • Ugur

      In reply to Simard57: I have both Windows and mac computers and yeah, pretty much noone i know minds Safari not being available on Windows or Android.
      I don't think Apple cares much either, because they don't strive for biggest market share with it.
      I also don't mind about that much myself, there are some things i use Safari for when i'm on the mac, and for most others i use Chrome there, too.

      But yeah, if MS actually cares about the market share of their browser, they sure should have a great version competitive with Chrome on iOS and Android and maybe even on Macs, too.


    • nbplopes

      In reply to Simard57:


      No. It has to do with the user culture I guess. Technical people use whatever browser is better for development, usually more than one. Regulars user just don't want the browser to slow down, crash, or eat too much energy out of the battery, Safari is a strong performer in that regard. If it was not, users would probably use something else.


      The best thing of using a combination iOS and OS X devices is that security credentials is shared across all devices through the iCloud (Keychain). does the same as LastPass but its far simpler to use as it is transparent, but only works within Apple devices.

  39. dotjko

    But how many times has Edge been patched over the same time period? Every month, I'll bet. It's not Edge's fault that Google doesn't know how to patch Chrome and therefore has to release a new "version" every time they need to close a security hole. 14 versions over that time period doesn't sound "stable" to me.

    • Darmok N Jalad

      In reply to dotjko:

      Yeah, they use an odd naming convention, but it doesn't really matter to everyday users. Chrome updates itself in the background, so most users would be unaware that anything has changed, and the revision number has no meaning to anyone but Google and the person troubleshooting it. It's really that way with all the browsers now. You don't get to chose the version when you download and install it.

  40. Larry Davidson

    "my increasingly shrill complaining will do nothing to stop the obvious future that is crashing down around me"

    I feel the same way every time I encounter any update. When I "upgraded" to a Surface Pro 3, it took over a year of wrangling with MS and five replacement machines (6 total) before I finally received one that was not defective.

    Also, being forced to "upgrade" to Office 2013 (desktop) and eventually with Outlook.com syncing through Microsoft Exchange, my contacts bred like flies--to the point that some contacts duplicated 20+ times and other contacts did not duplicate at all. It has now been a year and a half that I have enjoyed the duplication "upgrade" issue. After untold hours dealing with MS tech support--working up to tech Level III with endless hours on-line and multiple emails--and several attempts by MS to modify Office 2013 and/or Outlook.com, it appears that MS has finally (2 days ago) effected the "fix".

    Life was so much simpler back in the halcyon days of Win XP, IE, and Office 2003.

  41. MutualCore

    The biggest reason I won't ever use Edge as my #1 browser is not features missing, but the fact that I am Google's slave.

  42. Bdsrev

    Edge gets patches and fixes every patch tuesday, sometimes more frequently than that, so Edge gets updated just as frequently as Chrome. Chrome has a silly version numbering system likely conceived by a marketing team to make it seem like a brand new version comes out every 6 weeks, but it's very misleading

  43. Fuller1754

    The browser I use most has far less market share than Edge. Market share isn't everything.

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