What if Edge became the best-ever search engine?
Like the 90% of internet users today, there is a good chance that you are reading this article from a browser such as Chrome or Safari. However, Chrome has encountered quite a few issues recently: particularly following two alerts from Google that vulnerabilities were found in its software. Safari on the other hand, is a browser uniquely designed and limited to Apple devices; furthermore, Firefox has been regularly criticised for its cumbersome and poor resource management. In recent years, one search engine has seen more and more discussion about itself. Are we about to see the existence of a completely new web browser? It seems to be far from it, seeing that recent discussions have been focused on Microsoft Edge: the unfortunate successor of the notorious Internet Explorer.
But why is Edge so unfortunate? In other words, Edge has to carry the burden of and drag behind the disastrous history of its ancestor’s existence… Among other things, IE had a reputation for being slow and unreliable. Its compatibility and rendering difficulties made it an absolute nightmare for web developers. But that said, it seems as if its past is a long way behind Edge which has completely changed its look and structure. Between innovation, performance and security, Microsoft software is once again becoming a serious competitor. Find out exactly why Edge could be the best search engine we’ve ever had.
The new and improved Microsoft Edge – innovation and performance
In order to create Edge, Microsoft completely rebuilt the structure of its search engine from the Open-Source Chromium project which has the same code base as what was used by developers for Google Chrome. Moreover, Chrome users will certainly find that Edge is very similar in both appearance and functionality – containing very similar features. All Chrome extensions are supported in Edge which greatly supports the transition between the two pieces of software. Simply enable Allow extensions from other stores option to be able to use both the Microsoft store and Chrome web store features.
In fact, the significant differences between Chrome and Edge will play out in terms of levels of performance – this is not necessarily in favour of the Google browser either! Chrome is known for its “monopolisation” of system resources and the quantity of both RAM (Random Access Memory) and the CPU (Central Processing Unit) it will be able to use in order to function properly. Google engineers are currently working on these issues, but this particular aspect remains a major drawback for the browser.
According to initial user feedback and results from testing stages, Edge uses less resources than chrome, leading to similar - if not faster than – page loading times as seen with Google Chrome. Browser benchmarks such as those developed by ITPro with MotionMark also position Edge as the leading and fastest software for everyday web browsing and applications. That said, Chrome is not far behind, and Edge’s performance levels may not be enough to dethrone the browser which holds more than 60% of the market share. Unless Edge continues to push boundaries and become more innovative, it seems rather unlikely that this will be the case…
It is looked upon highly that innovation is at the heart of Microsoft’s strategy for its newly built web browser. As soon as Edge was released, its creators added numerous browser features such as:
An integrated playback mode which is more accessible and intuitive than Chrome’s version.
An option to read content aloud.
The ability to display tabs vertically on the side of the screen.
The ability to put unused tabs into sleep mode after a certain amount of inactivity time – promoting efficient performance.
Contains “collections” which record groups of pages together, as well as having the ability to collect and bring together certain elements of a text as well as images, online videos etc.
A screen capture and pdf annotation system.
A native dark screen mode.
Edge also uses key Chromium features such as the built-in translator and voice search. It is now even possible to launch the new Microsoft browser on Chromecast. Interoperability seems to be another significant objective for Microsoft Edge in terms of its functionality and compatibility with operating systems.
Compatible with all operating systems – even Linux!
Microsoft Edge is available for Windows, macOS as well as for mobile operating systems such as Android and iOS – hence making it a web browser which can be used on all sorts of devices. In addition, there is a browser data synchronisation option available to users which can be accessed from a Microsoft account; very similar to what has already been implemented in Chrome and Google.
Finally, since October 2020, a version of Edge for Linux has been available for use via the Microsoft Dev channel.
The browser can be installed using an intuitive graphical user interface or command line. Microsoft equally provides official packages for Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian and openSUSE operating systems.
Installation of the browser using the command line is also possible with Debian and Ubuntu by using the following syntax:
$ curl https://packages.microsoft.com/keys/microsoft.asc | gpg --dearmor > microsoft.gpg
$ sudo install -o root -g root -m 644 microsoft.gpg /etc/apt/trusted.gpg.d/
$ sudo sh -c 'echo "deb [arch=amd64] https://packages.microsoft.com/repos/edge stable main" > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/microsoft-edge-dev.list'
$ sudo rm microsoft.gpg
$ sudo apt update
$ sudo apt install microsoft-edge-dev
Please note that currently, this is a preliminary/beta version for developers running Linux operating software. Connection and synchronisation features are not currently available however, according to Microsoft, they will be provided in the stable version.
Increased privacy and security for Microsoft’s new browser
The other major advantage of Edge when compared to its competitors, is its privacy and data storing policy. The issue of online privacy is complex in today’s world and changing from one browser to another will not solve all problems which are associated with data tracking on the web. However, Edge offers a more intuitive and comprehensive interface to its users in order to offer better protection.
The privacy parameters are classified into 3 categories: basic, balanced and strict with each time, a description of their rules being applied to the browser and the impact they will have on the user’s browsing experience. Therefore, it has been made possible to choose the desired degree of privacy protection with one click and modify it at any time.
The policy’s strict version makes it possible to block the majority of tracers which are present on web pages. Filtering is essential, so that Edge can even trigger a pop-up window which informs the user of an ad-blocker; asking them to disable it on particular web pages.
Moreover, privacy rules remain completely customisable to user preference: they can add their own sites to a block or exceptions list. Another interface also enables easy control and management of browsing history, with the ability to delete data specific to each tab closure.
In regard to security, Microsoft highlights the fact that Edge is much more secure than Chrome and Firefox. According to an independent study carried out by NSS Labs (a notorious testing company), Microsoft Edge would provide better protection than other web browsers in the following areas:
Against social engineering attacks such as phishing.
Malicious software, content and advertising.
Potentially unwanted applications.
“Technical support” scams where the user sees a message blocking their computer access; indicating that there is a serious problem and a risk of losing personal data if "assistance” is not sought.
Thanks to the native integration of Microsoft Defender SmartScreen – a service based on the reputation of websites and files being downloaded from the web – it is possible for this level of cyber security to be provided to internet users.
From its performance and features to enhanced security, Edge is once again becoming a serious competitor on the web browser market. In April 2020, it surpassed Firefox for the first time ever in terms of its proportion of market share held. So, will it ever be able to dethrone Chrome? Feel free to leave us your opinion on Microsoft Edge in the forum!
Sources and useful links
Market share proportions of various web browsers: https://www.leptidigital.fr/webmarketing/parts-de-marche-navigateurs-web-10814/
NSS Lab report on web browser security (PDF file in English): https://query.prod.cms.rt.microsoft.com/cms/api/am/binary/RWASN1
ITPro benchmarks on web browser performance: https://www.itpro.co.uk/web-browsers/24796/best-browser-2021-chrome-vs-edge-vs-firefox
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