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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