Microsoft, It’s Time to Treat Edge Like a Real App

Posted on August 12, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 0

Microsoft, It's Time to Treat Edge Like a Real App

Because Microsoft’s new Edge web browser is stuck on the Windows 10 upgrade schedule, it has been updated infrequently in the past year, and it still lags behind the competition. Microsoft, it’s time to fix this problem and make Edge an app. And then just update the hell out of it going forward.

Of course, Edge literally is an app. It’s even a Universal Windows Platform (UWP) app. What I mean is that Edge is still serviced the old-fashioned way, as part of the OS, meaning that it is only updated along with Windows. Instead, you should be able to get Edge updates regularly through Windows Store, as you do with other apps that ship with Windows 10.

By comparison, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox have both been updated numerous times in the year since Windows 10 first shipped. Edge? Just twice: In November, when Microsoft shipped Windows 10 version 1511, and this past month, when we received Windows 10 version 1607.

That’s too slow. It’s too slow in some theoretical world in which Edge already matches up, functionally, to competition like Chrome or Firefox. But it’s especially too slow in the real world, where that is not the case: Yes, Edge has improved materially since the initial release of Windows 10 last year. But that’s the minimum: As first shipped, Edge was horribly incomplete.

To be clear, I’m speaking in terms of end user features here. Separate from this, Microsoft has a roadmap for improving Edge’s web platform features as well. These are low-level features like the rendering engines and so forth. These are actually updated fairly routinely behind the scenes.

And yes, those on the Insider Program can gain access to new Edge features more quickly than the public. But doing so comes at great cost: You must download and install full Windows 10 builds each time there’s a new release.

There has to be a better way. And there is: Microsoft should simply treat Edge like it does other apps and issue app updates, regularly, through Windows Store. These updates should and could include new features.

To those who may argue that businesses require a more stable and predictable web platform, I say fooey. Only large managed businesses require such a thing, and Microsoft already has controls in place for such enterprises. Smaller businesses and individuals use browsers like Chrome, and they’re updated regularly. Nothing breaks.

Edge will never be taken seriously by any mass of real users until it is brought up to speed with leading web browsers. And that won’t happen if we have to wait until next March or whatever to get the next set of Edge functional updates. Whatever those might be.

Microsoft, set Edge free. It’s time. It’s past time.


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