Microsoft Previews Major Improvements Coming to Edge

Posted on June 9, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 70 Comments

Microsoft Previews Major Improvements Coming to Edge

Back in April, I outlined the many ways in which Microsoft Edge still came up short against its web browser competition. But in the most recent Windows 10 Insider Preview build, Microsoft has provided an early peek at improvements it will bring to Edge in the Fall Creators Update. Has the software giant finally closed the gap?

Not quite: There are still some important features missing from Edge, sorry. But I’m happy to see that Microsoft is finally addressing some of my big complaints.

You should check out Edge of 17(03): Microsoft’s Web Browser is Still Lacking for a more complete list of my issues with Edge. But here’s what Microsoft is fixing for the Fall Creators Update:

Pinned web apps in the taskbar

Internet Explorer and Chrome can pin shortcuts to web apps (really, any websites) to the Windows taskbar so that you can access them as if they were native apps. But Edge, inexplicably, has never offered this capability.

The good news: This feature is finally coming to Windows 10 in the Fall Creators Update. Now, you can pin any webpage to the taskbar from Microsoft Edge: Just navigate to the page in question and then select Settings and More (“…”) > “Pin this page to the taskbar.”

The bad news: When you open up a pinned web page, it just opens in a normal Edge web browser window, which includes the full browser UI (“chrome”) and displays any pinned tabs too. With Chrome, you have the option to create pinned sites that open in chromeless windows that more closely resemble native applications.

F11 full-screen mode

While Microsoft Edge actually does already provide a way to access a real full-screen mode, it’s so well-hidden and undocumented that most users don’t even know about it. (To access this mode, type SHIFT + WINKEY + ENTER.)

But with the Fall Creators Update, Microsoft will finally do what it should have done all along, and let users toggle this full-screen mode by typing F11. You know. Like every other web browser on earth.

You can also access this display mode from the Settings and More menu.

E-book annotation

As you probably know, Microsoft added support for E-PUB files to Edge, along with a new Windows Store-based e-book platform, in the Windows 10 Creators Update. In the Fall Creators Update, this functionality will be improved with the ability to annotate E-PUB files (including purchased e-books) directly in the browser. You’ll be able to highlight text in four colors, underline, and add comments.

PDF improvements

Today, you can view and annotate PDF files with Microsoft Edge. In the Fall Creators Update, you can access more highlight colors. And the “Ask Cortana” feature is now available in Edge, too. That means that you can now select text in a PDF, right-click, and select “Ask Cortana” to learn more about the selected term.

Final thoughts

These are obviously some much-needed updates, especially taskbar pinning and the F11 full-screen toggle. But Edge is still so lacking in so many ways. I can only hope that further improvements are coming for the Fall Creators Update.


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Comments (71)

71 responses to “Microsoft Previews Major Improvements Coming to Edge”

  1. Bdsrev

    I hope they don't "de-prioritize" Edge, it really is much better than Chrome in some important ways. If they keep trying hard, it could be the best Windows browser in a year or 2.

  2. SvenJ

    I have no generic issue with Edge, but have come across specific ones. Had to reset a password the other day, and was sent to a site via e-mail to do it. Naturally the site opened in Edge. There was a nice interface which defined the password requirements, length, special characters, etc. As you typed in your new PW, it checked of the requirements you had met, Pretty useful except it didn't work in Edge. Never accepted my new PW, because it couldn't validate the requirements. Pasted the link into IE and it worked fine. Have had other such, this doesn't work, experiences.

    I understand the problem is largely on the website, using 'features' that are likely not supported, yet or on purpose for security, but sometimes that is not usable. Not supporting a flash based something is usually an 'oh well, didn't need to see that'. Not being able to reset a PW would have been exceptionally annoying.

  3. Otto Gunter

    My #1 request is to save a bookmark (to the desktop, for instance) as a .url file, something IE has had for ever. Hopefully that ability will come soon too.

  4. rlcronin

    I don't get it. I'm perfectly happy with Chrome. Why would I switch to Edge? I did try it early on, but it was lacking so much that it was laughable. First impressions count.

    • ChristopherCollins

      In reply to rlcronin:

      You are so correct. I have stated many time that I think MS should have held onto IE until they had a new browser with feature parity... I only use Edge to cast things to my XBox 1 now and as luck would have it, they broke that on Creator's Update (from Edge).

      There is only one first impression. They would be better off finishing Edge, then renaming it. Edge = Intel Atom to me.

      From the beginning, I have thought they should have make a WebKit browser. Without cross platform syncing, you have nothing. People are not going to use different browsers all the way around. At the very least, they could have made a mobile 'Edge' on WebKit for syncing alone.

      Edge (to me) is Microsoft's biggest blunder since the Longhorn/Vista disaster story.

    • lvthunder

      In reply to rlcronin:

      Because Google needs competition in the browser space. Also remember that you can't use Chrome in Windows S. With how much hostility google has for Microsoft I doubt we'll ever see Chrome as a Store App unless Windows S is really successful and Google is dragged kicking and screaming.

  5. Waethorn

    Why is it that Microsoft is doing away with a lot of drag-and-drop functionality lately? Is this an API restriction, or are they just not bothering in their current apps?

    Why can't you drag-and-drop a website icon or tab to the taskbar to create the icon? IE used to allow you to do this.

    There's lots of places where drag-and-drop functionality like this would be the expected natural interaction method in Windows, but it seems lazy not to include it, and the number of times I expected it to be there, they omitted it.

    Apple even does this sort-of-properly with how you get application packages as a single icon the represents numerous files, and you drag-and-drop that icon into your Apps icon on OS X. To remove it, you drag and drop the icon to the trash bin, and the OS takes care of everything.

    I've always said that deployment tools would benefit from this. Wouldn't it be so much easier for OEM's to just take an ISO file, represented by an icon, drop some driver packages onto it, and maybe some preloaded apps, and BOOM, Windows does all the work to make a new installation image for you. That is what I was asking for, for years. And yet what I get is the OEM Express Deployment Tool that is anything but. They even had an awesome tool for Windows 10 when it was released that I used in place of the EDT, and then they pulled it and made newer builds incompatible with it, and reverted back to the old WinSIM program which doesn't support multi-arch image creation.

  6. abvogel

    My #1 thing missing is being able to turn a pop up into a tab. I use Dynamics CRM for work, and it will often have window popups with no navigation and no ability to open the link in a new tab. In Chrome it's great - right click, Show as Tab, and then I can drop it back in my main window. Edge and IE can't do this. When this feature doesn't exist, it's very noticeable as you end up having a lot of floating windows with no menu and no ability to group together.

  7. hrlngrv

    Gotta wonder whether all the added PDF functionality is the reason there's so little development of other features. For me, this is truly pointless because I have no intention of using anything other than desktop Foxit Reader because that has consistently done the best job of selecting tabular text to copy from PDF and paste into Excel, something I need to do several times a month given how I usually receive customer data. So much for work.

    At home, I'm odd and try to keep up on those few bits of NSF research I understand. I use Okular under Linux because it's the only document viewer I've come across which can handle XPS, PDF, PS and DVI and most image file formats.

  8. Bats

    I have said this before and I'll say it again (and I know I a right): If the Edge browser is not on Android or iOS, the browser has no chance whatsoever. Even if they browser version is a 1:1 duplicate, in terms of features with Chrome, it's going to work.

  9. doubledeej

    There's one feature lacking from Edge that drives me nuts every time I try to use it... being able to search for highlighted text. The Ask Cortana feature just isn't the same.

  10. Tsang Man Fai

    Oh... I didn't know the shift+winkey+enter full screen function!  I thought there has been no such function at all for two years.

    I wonder why they still haven't put this function in the "..." menu.  2 years... how come it takes 2 years to add a tiny UI element???

  11. Piras

    How about fixing the Favorites syncing situation. This has become a joke, close to two years after launch, it still doesn't work properly.

    • MutualCore

      In reply to Piras:

      Or a Favorites manager in a separate window that allows me to easily delete batches of folders or re-arrange as I want easily like in Chrome/Firefox? I swear Microsoft keeps adding fluff nobody wants and ignores the core features that everyone needs.

      • Siv

        In reply to MutualCore:

        Correct, they still haven't added a right-click "refresh" option another thing all other major browsers do. I know it's stupid because you can press CTRL + R but my muscle memory from IE and Firefox has left me always right-clicking and it's so [email protected] annoying I just won't use Edge until they fix that!

  12. Jack Smith

    Why? That ship has sailed and MS is not going to get people to switch back from Chrome, IMO.

  13. Narg

    Only the pinned web apps appeals to me. The others in this list don't mean a bit to me.

  14. MutualCore

    I wonder when Microsoft will fix the delay in closing Edge when you Alt-F4 or hit the X button. It usually can take anywhere from 2-10 seconds before it closes. Chrome closes in a second every time.

  15. Jules Wombat

    We'll for many of us, since CU Edge simply Crashes every time its started. See user Forums.

    Perhaps Microsoft will consider fixing Edge crashes first. Deteriorating QA since Dona took over W10 Release cycles has damaged W10 reputation.

  16. hometoy

    Glad to hear Edge is getting improvements. It is far behind Chrome and Firefox, but what it does have is that it comes up quickly. I hope these improvements does not come at the expense of opening up speed.

    I use Edge for things like links in Email, Twitter, etc. but when I need to get work done on the web, I go to Chrome.

  17. boots

    "Internet Explorer and Chrome can pin shortcuts to web apps (really, any websites) to the Windows taskbar"

    Can someone explain how to add Chrome web apps to the Taskbar, I have not been able to work out how to do this. If I drag a link from Chrome to the Taskbar it just gets added to Internet Explorer's right click menu.

  18. Ekim

    The only "feature" they should be working on is cross-platform like the rest of their apps. Until I can get Edge from the Play Store on my Android phone, I will never use it as my daily driver.

  19. BMcDonald

    Are there any improvements in the area of leaving my bloody PDF file extensions alone - so I can use Adobe Reader as as lot of other normal folks would do?

    Nothing irritates me more that this useless browser constantly hacking and re-hacking my ability to use what I want to use to open and view PDFs.

  20. red.radar

    How about edge for iOS / Android. If for no other reason I get bookmark syncing.

  21. Ravi Tx

    But Chrome, inexplicably, has never offered this capability.

    Typo: you mean Edge

  22. david.thunderbird

    Nah, I'm feelin' edged out.

  23. SRLRacing

    I pretty much have always had to run all the major browsers and still do for web app compatibility reasons. In a given day I can hit Edge, Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer multiple times. I have found that I use Edge most the time but I'm not a major plugin user like I think Paul is and the ones I do use have all made it to Edge.

  24. dcdevito

    "But Chrome, inexplicably, has never offered this capability"

    I think you meant Edge :)

  25. harmjr

    Will this make it into the final version???

  26. BoItmanLives

    Being limited to windows 10 is the first thing they need to correct. So pointless.

    Needs to expand to windows 7, 8.1, Linux, MacOS, etc or Chrome wins by default.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to BoItmanLives:

      Windows owns desktop PCs, so Linux and macOS versions of Edge wouldn't add many users. OTOH, mobile Edge for Android and iOS could add tens of millions of users.

      • PeteB

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        Windows owns desktop, but Windows 10 does not - it'll remain stuck at 25%. So Edge not being on Windows 7 which has 50% of the market - and continues to grow - is a colossal blunder.

        Chrome, OTOH, works on Windows 7 beautifully. Microsoft actually discriminates against it's own operating systems.

        • hrlngrv

          In reply to PeteB:

          Do you recall GWX? MSFT would like nothing better than the kill off all older versions of Windows. Unfortunately for MSFT, Edge isn't as much of an inducement to move to Windows 10 as MSFT would have liked.

  27. SherlockHolmes

    Taskbar pinning is much needed? By whom? I use PCs over 20 years now and never had the need fo pinning a website to the taskbar. I have the feeling that MSFT doesnt know what they would like Edge to be.

    • prettyconfusd

      In reply to SherlockHolmes:

      I remember pinning a few sites back when they launched the feature - and built jump lists etc. into the sites I was making around that time, and then doing the same with live tiles and RSS feeds for Windows 8.1. But yikes, I don't think I've ever used them - And for me there's even less reason to since there are official apps for Windows 10 for most of the things I use.

      Still, Edge needs to feature match Opera, Firefox, Chrome, *and* mobile Safari before it will be seen as a viable option for many people - and right now it doesn't.

      I like Edge, it's simple, fast, and getting better every update. But I still need to jump into Opera for some stuff (online banking, for example, just won't load properly in Edge - and I know that's the problem with the people who made the site, not Edge - but it's still a problem that Edge ultimately has to fix).

  28. mejason83

    I don't see how they can ever compete when Edge updates happen twice per yr. They need to somehow decouple from the Win10 releases and iterate faster.. Way faster.

  29. ChristopherCollins

    Have they fixed casting media to your device from Edge (ie, XBox One)? They broke it on Creator's and I don't know that they realize many people were using Edge for that feature only.

  30. mrdrwest

    Did they fix the "Cast media to device" feature? Edge 1703 doesn't see the XB1. MS confirmed the bug.

  31. Nyghtfall

    Frankly, I don't see any incarnation of Explorer or "Edge" ever retaking the market outside of businesses or Grandma's house until MS finally turns it into an open-source app so people who know what they're doing - and care - can turn it into something that can actually compete with the likes of Chrome and Firefox. I haven't used an MS browser since Firefox was released in 2002, and I've never seen a compelling reason to try one again.

  32. frand771

    I really tried to give edge browser a chance but i can't because sometimes it's laggy. I mean sometimes just opening a new blank tab is frustrating, it takes 1-2 seconds. Chrome in the same computer is instant. Some webpages can freeze, and my lastpass extension doesn't work anymore. Microsoft should implement a way to totally reset Edge but i didn't find the way to do that. If someone knows how to do that please tell me. For the moment i'm an happy chrome user, because it's incredibly fast and IT JUST WORKS.

  33. mattbg

    I could have sworn the "pin to taskbar" feature was supposed to come in the current Creators Update :)

    Does this mean we'll be able to have a "Pinned Sites" section in the context menu of the Edge taskbar icon like Chrome, IE, and others have? Or just pin one icon per site directly to the taskbar?

  34. polymath

    if the... "a future" is like Chromebooks,, ie, a browser, webasm & web hardware then we will see argumentation of the browser and links with the Assistant. I quite like the ePub with its Speak out loud, quite useful.

    If BRIDGED apps don't take off then we are back to the world wide web and Microsoft Edge

  35. madthinus

    Try using edge without Cortana and experience the real hell that is this browser.

  36. prettyconfusd

    Re: full screen mode. I wonder how this will work in tablet mode when there's no physical keyboard to F11. I'd hope we'll see a return to the swipe in menu mode from metro IE11 to make it more touch and pen friendly.

    • RedSign

      In reply to prettyconfusd:

      There is a clickable icon in the browser menu (those with the three dots) that can be used for that in tablet mode.

      • prettyconfusd

        In reply to RedSign:

        That's how we can get into full screen mode sure, but once that menu has vanished, how do you bring it back using only touch?

        Unless they expect you to swipe the taskbar into view, open the touch keyboard, switch to the full layout touch keyboard, and *then* tap F11 just to switch tabs or view favourites?

        • LemonJoose

          In reply to prettyconfusd:

          I just tried full screen view in Edge in tablet mode using the full onscreen keyboard and Winkey + Shift + Enter.  It's easy to go back to normal view.  Just swipe the title bar down into view at the top and tap the Restore View button (diagonal opposing arrows) in the top right next to the Close button (x). 

  37. Matt Lohr

    I think of Edge as the Chrome bootloader.

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