Edge of 17(09): Microsoft’s Browser Edges Forward

Posted on August 3, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 31 Comments

Edge of 17(09): Microsoft's Browser Edges Forward

Each major new version of Windows 10 includes dramatic functional improvements to Microsoft Edge. And with each of these releases, I reevaluate this web browser to find out if I can finally use it regularly.

Sadly, it’s always fallen short, and then some. As I noted in Edge of 17(03): Microsoft’s Web Browser is Still Lacking, the … well, I guess that title kind of says it all. Despite years of improvements, Microsoft Edge has just never measured up to more mature browsers like Chrome or Firefox.

But hope springs eternal. And with Microsoft finalizing the Fall Creators Update as I write this, it’s time to consider Edge yet again. To make this happen, I’ll look at the complaints I made back in April and see what, if anything, Microsoft has done to fix those issues. The goal being that it’s possible that Edge could be improved enough so that I could actually use it.

Web apps. With Chrome, you can pin web apps to the Windows 10 taskbar, and I use some—like Google Inbox and Google Calendar—in this fashion every day. Microsoft has promised to support modern web apps and to let them integrate with Windows 10 in the future. That work is not happening in the Fall Creators Update. So while you can now pin websites to the taskbar from Edge, these shortcuts are just empty, and, when selected, the underlying site just opens in a new tab in your normal Edge window. That is not what I am looking for. Verdict: FAIL

Create desktop shortcuts. With Chrome and other web browsers, you can drag a site from the address bar to the Windows 10 desktop, creating a shortcut. Edge still does not support this in the Fall Creators Update. In Fact, if you try to do this, you’ll see a little “NO” graphic on the dragged item.Verdict: FAIL

General performance. Overall, Edge still works a bit more leisurely than Chrome, the web browser I prefer and use daily (both on PC and mobile). That said, Microsoft has addressed my issue with right-click menu performance in the Fall Creators Update. So I’m going to give Microsoft the rare thumbs-up here. Verdict: WIN

Favorites bar. I store my bookmarks in the Chrome Bookmarks bar, or what Edge calls the Favorites bar. Chrome gives me a lot of control over how this looks and works, and each item (bookmark or folder) can appear as an icon or as an icon with a label. In Edge, you can still only choose between icons and icons with text, globally. Verdict: FAIL

Mobile sync. Because Microsoft Edge only works in Windows 10, it is incompatible with the Android phones and iPhones that everyone uses. And that is a non-starter: When I sign-in to Chrome on my iPhone or Android handsets, all of my bookmarks, settings, and saved passwords come along for the ride. Edge still can’t do this. Verdict: FAIL

Extensions. Microsoft continues to add more Extensions to Edge, and there are now almost 50 available in the Windows Store. Granted, the number of quality extensions is low, and there are some extensions I use with Chrome that are still not available in Edge. But the core stuff is there, and it’s good enough. Verdict: WIN

Full-screen. With the Fall Creators Update, Microsoft Edge finally supports a normal (F11) full-screen page display mode. Problem solved. Verdict: WIN

Developer. Chrome offers an incredible F12 Developer experience that includes a Sources view that helps me pull images and other content out of websites. (I use this to grab full-sized images from Microsoft sites, for example.) Edge does provide its own F12 Developer Tools functionality, of course. But I still can’t figure out how to use it for this need. I am pretty sure it’s not possible. Verdict: FAIL

Notifications. Websites and web apps are increasingly using native app-like notifications to keep users up-to-date. Chrome supports this functionality fully. But only a tiny subset of the web can provide notifications to Edge. And they won’t work at all unless the site is open in a tab at the time. Microsoft says that this functionality is coming to Edge, but in a future update. Verdict: FAIL

So the FAILs have it, 5-3. But that’s still 3 WINs, for me, over the previous Windows 10 version. And it’s important to consider the relative pain of each of those FAILs. For example, the Developer bit is actually a big issue for me, and so is Edge’s inability to pin web apps to the taskbar in a way that works like native apps. But notifications are not; in fact, I routinely ignore website notifications in Chrome. Neither is the mobile sync stuff, at least for me.

(You may note that I’m not discussing too many new Edge features from the Fall Creators Update here. Honestly, most of that doesn’t affect me, positively or negatively.)

So it’s not as bad as it looks. And while I still can’t use Edge as my only web browser with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, Microsoft is (ahem) edging itself a bit closer with each release. And of course, thanks to my Windows 10 S experimentation this month, where I’m using Microsoft’s most limited Windows version for about half of each day, my Edge usage is actually skyrocketing.

You never know.

 

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Comments (31)

31 responses to “Edge of 17(09): Microsoft’s Browser Edges Forward”

  1. Avatar

    Brandon Mills

    The Web App and Notification fail seem like easy ones to remedy. Other fixes might require more work. I'd push web apps hard, since Chrome is going to offer straight up Android apps running in their OS, and web apps at least help deal with that problem in one way.

  2. Avatar

    hrlngrv

    Myself, I use a lot of automation with Firefox: iMacros and Fireform. I've tried iMacros with Chrome, and it just doesn't work as well. Firefox is still my go-to browser. I use Chrome on my Chromebook. I finally gave Opera a decent trial, and it seems as fast as Edge with a better (for me) UI. For me, all are preferable to Edge, not least because those other 3 work the same under Windows and Linux.


    Finally, until copying portions of PDFs and pasting into Excel or other external programs is as reliable from Edge as it is from Foxit Reader, I won't be using Edge for PDFs. As for eBooks, I haven't gotten into them. Part of that is that reading computer screens for prolonged periods just doesn't work for me. My brother-in-law has a Kindle Paperwhite, and that's what I'd use as soon as I decide to give up real books.

  3. Avatar

    madthinus

    Why can't we just decouple Edge from Windows. Infact, why can't most if not all of the app update stuff be decoupled from Windows 10. Update those every 6 months and the base OS every year.

  4. Avatar

    fbman

    I cant bring myself to use edge as my daily browser, I properly could... as I dont really use extensions, only my ad blocker and edge has one in the store. I use firefox as my daily browser, maybe its habit, I dunno. I really have no complaints with it.


    I dont use chrome as I am not a huge google fan and i dont really use any of there products besides google maps.


    • Avatar

      Brian Burke

      In reply to fbman:

      I use edge quite a bit because of the MSRewards you get for using it and a couple of real pain in the butt sites that I forgot the passwords for that I haven't bothered to reset. It works for the most part just fine but as an IT professional I can never recommend it to anyone ever because this is the internet and your product shouldn't have the problems it has in this day and age.

  5. Avatar

    MutualCore

    I still want Edge to come to iOS & Android.

  6. Avatar

    Waethorn

    Big bag of fail. Got it.

    • Avatar

      NazmusLabs

      In reply to Waethorn:

      Actually, I am not sure about a big bag of fail. Edge is like the opposite of what IE was. Edge is actually a good browser in a general sense. However, as paul notes, and to which I agree, Edge lacks a bunch of little things that add up to make it hard to use. There is not one single thing with Edge that makes it hard to use. It's a bunch of small things. So I would edit your metaphor to be a bag of many marble sized fails.

      • Avatar

        hrlngrv

        In reply to NazmusLabs:

        . . . Edge is like the opposite of what IE was. . . .

        So kinda like Goldilocks: IE is too bloated and insecure, Edge is too minimal and restrictive, but Chrome (Opera, Firefox, . . .) are just right.

        Anyway, if there are enough marbles (little fails), they can still fill the fail bag.

  7. Avatar

    Watney

    If only the Lastpass extension didn't crash Edge

  8. Avatar

    Spineless

    I think Paul is being generous when he gives Edge's Favorites Bar a "Fail". It honestly should be an Epic Fail. It's 2017, and this is what we have to use for Favorites? When Favorites editing first appeared in Edge in prior RS3 builds, I figured it was a work in progress. I never would have guessed that this would be the extent of what would be delivered in RS3. And how about expanding a folder from a folder on the Favorites bar? Because everyone wants to see their favorites truncated and unreadable?

  9. Avatar

    Spineless

    Edge's F12 Tools equivilent to Chrome's Sources is Debugger

  10. Avatar

    johnbaxter

    Paul, indeed, likes Chrome, and the way he appears to use his machines, it's pretty clear that Chrome is the better browser for him.


    I won't use Chrome (my advanced GooglePhobia problem). Edge and Safari work fine for me with their respective OSs, with Firefox available as backup for sites that choose not to support standards.


    Different ways to use the machines likewise explain why an extra Win 10 update per month requiring reboot doesn't bother me at all whereas it leads to several days of Paul rants.

  11. Avatar

    bbold

    I use Edge 24/7 and for my needs it is fantastic. I've only had issues with 1 or 2 sites, and with all the web browsing and sites I visit daily for both work and school, it has been wonderful. Both my work 'blackboard' site and my many work sites work just fine. Extensions have grown and I agree, especially re: bookmark issues and pinning web pages that open corectly. So far, though, for me, an A+!

  12. Avatar

    xankazo

    Edge since the CU has become my daily driver. In fact now I only have Edge and Firefox on my main PC. This combo works perfectly for me.

  13. Avatar

    Vidua

    > I use this to grab full-sized images from Microsoft sites, for example.) Edge does provide its own F12 Developer Tools functionality, of course. But I still can’t figure out how to use it for this need. I am pretty sure it’s not possible.


    Well, you're wrong.

  14. Avatar

    Martin Pelletier

    One thing I like about Edge is the speed. But like you Paul, I find the favorite management very basic and must be as good as Chrome.


    Paul, I read somewhere that Microsoft decided to move Edge out of Windows 10. Is that so in the Fall Creator update? If they do so, missing features might come faster in that case?

    • Avatar

      crfonseca

      In reply to Watney:

      Meh, who cares about benchmarks? That kind of reminds my of the folks that instead of having fun playing games, just sit there ogling the FPS counter.

      As long as the browser, any browser, opens the pages I want to see fast enough that I really don't notice it, it's fine by me. And on that standard, I really can't tell Edge or Chrome or Firefox apart.

  15. Avatar

    Jack Smith

    Only thing that matters at this point is security.


    Make the damn thing secure. At pawned 2017 Edge was hacked easily and penetrated over and over and over again that has to be the priority for Microsoft instead of adding new features. Freeze new features and create a freaking secure base like Chrome has.


    Only browser unhackable in the time allotted at Pawned 2017 was Chrome.

    • Avatar

      NazmusLabs

      In reply to Jack_Smith:

      You can't freeze edge features. It's ALREADY BEHIND chrome in terms of full web compatibility. Plus, security fixes happen independently of new features. Security updates are done monthly via cumulative updates. Feature updates don't slow down security ones because they are developed by independent teams.

  16. Avatar

    Chris Payne

    As Paul has said before, what works for one person is highly dependent on the individual.


    That said, it surprises me the things Paul singles out here or calls non-starters.


    • Mobile sync: A non-starter? Is it really that hard to type in or create a different set of bookmarks in a different browser? How often are your bookmarks changing? I don't know about everyone else, but I could be perfectly happy in my life if bookmarks never otherwise existed.
    • Performance: I find Edge's performance is MUCH better than Chrome's. Chrome is a dog of a performer, from UI experience to memory/CPU utilization to process utilization. I thought, objectively, Edge was accepted as the clear universal winner here. It's like denying climate change!
    • F12 Dev tools: Each has its own quirks, but Edge takes the cake for me. It's a much cleaner UI and just seems to click with me better.
    • Avatar

      Darmok N Jalad

      In reply to unkinected:

      That may be for you, but I like being able to go to the tabs section of Safari and pull up an open tab on another Apple device (it works across iOS and MacOS), as well as being able to view a unified set of favorites, browsing history, and form entry. I suppose it's not a "need," but since it's both possible and available on competing platforms, having it sure is one heck of a time saver. Now that I'm used to it, I'll often just leave a tab open on my iPhone knowing that I can come back to it on a larger screen later. No need to add bookmarks or save URLs.

    • Avatar

      Jack Smith

      In reply to unkinected:

      Security matters for everybody. Microsoft needs to freeze new features and create a secure Foundation to then add features on top of.


      Edge at pawned 2017 was the most hacked browser easily hands down

  17. Avatar

    Subhadip Sen

    I've been using Edge full time since Creator's Update. I have a 4K display, and the HiDPI scaling is simply perfect. By comparison, Chrome often ends up looking blurry and just not right. The performance for me actually has been more consistent with Edge. The benchmarks also suggest the same. The problem is the outlier site that doesn't run well on Edge, it grinds to a halt. Battery life is still way better, as is RAM usage, on Edge. Even 8 GB isn't cutting it for Chrome now, absolutely ridiculous! Totally agree about the web apps and sync though.

  18. Avatar

    GlennC

    I want to use the Edge browser as it has a few features and behaviors I like, but, the big (to me) item holding me back is the inability to create a desktop shortcut like the other browsers. (Drag icon in front of web address of IE11, Firefox & Chrome).

    The shortest solution I've found is to select the hamburger menu, select "Pin to Start" which is a partial solution but I still do not have the flexibility I want to do such things as move them to folders and no single click access to them. The Windows store appears to have no app to do this. Come on Microsoft, please improve your user experience.

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