Microsoft strives to take some of the browser market share with its Chromium-based browser
MS Edge was released as a part of the Windows 10 operating system in 2015 in an attempt to put behind the security loopholes, slowness, and other horrendous traits that Internet Explorer represented for many years. However, the MS Edge browser did not take off as expected by Microsoft, as the web browser remained almost irrelevant since its release, and was still behind the Internet Explorer in April 2018.
The IT giant had to do something, as users were still not convinced that Microsoft's browser is worth their time – and it did. In December 2018, the company announced that its new, Chromium-based Edge is in the making. Just four months later, the browser was released for beta testing, and remained in the stage till January 15, 2020, when the cross-platform Chromium-based Edge (based on version Chromium 79) was finally released to the public.
The old Edge was based on the Trident web rendering engine, which was later replaced by EdgeHTML, both of which failed. The new Edge now incorporates a Chromium engine with plenty of improvements from Microsoft. Additionally, the release also allows the browser to be used on various platforms, including macOS, which makes it the first Microsoft-released browser compatible with Apple devices since January 2006.
So, is the new Chromium-based Edge is worth the time, and will it succeed (more) than its predecessors? Let's find out what the new Microsoft's browser has to offer.
Users can now customize their browsing experience with extensions from Chrome store and use the new Edge across all platforms
The initial testings of the new Edge Beta version showed that the browser was not something unique, and many claimed that it is just a re-skinned Chromium browser. The Google apps did not work, and users were instead redirected to the Microsoft store. However, the stable release on January 15 proved that there are plenty of features that users would look forward to making use of.
The stable release still looks like a more simplistic version of Chromium – but there is no surprise there, it is based on its code. The beta version did not allow users to install extensions from Google Web store – now the issue is fixed, and users can visit other stores, and add whatever extensions are available from there. Apart from that, the UI is very understandable and simplistic (also seems familiar), new pages load fast, extensions get installed just as quickly as they do on Chrome, etc.
Besides the new features, Microsoft also offers users protection from malicious websites and unauthorized access to browsing data, provides visibility on how user data is collected, enables 4K streaming capability, provides integrated MS Office, and PDF-reader functionality, as well as rewards users with Amazon gift cards for using Bing, and much, much more.
After downloading the Chromium-based Edge, users will be offered to import the existing usernames, passwords, browsing data, and all the other useful information from Chrome, or other browsers. Besides, the new version of Edge allows users to use it across all platforms, including Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, macOS, iOS, and Android.
Is the new Edge a competitor to Chrome?
Looking back to the time when Netscape was the browser users chose (or rather, there was not much to choose from), many things changed. Netscape has been long gone, but Internet Explorer took its place, and most of the users did not bother much about what browser they were using – as long as they can access the Internet. At that time, the thought of a new company establishing as a high-tech dominating force within the web browser industry was almost impossible.
However, Google now is the standard when it comes to internet browsing – the name even embedded itself as a new standard of telling somebody to research something on the internet – “Go Google it.” For the past four to five years, Google was dominating the market with its astonishing 50% + market share. Despite its popularity, it also got plenty of criticism about its search result filtering, privacy intrusions, malicious apps within its stores, and other issues.
While the new Edge feels like Chrome, it is not the same thing – it has multiple implementations from Microsoft, and the business model varies greatly. As mentioned, Google was criticized for user privacy issues before, and it is deployed with all privacy settings disabled. In the meantime, Edge is shipped with privacy set to “Balanced,” which blocks trackers from various sites in exchange for less-personalized ad experience.
Perhaps, the MS Edge will give the opportunity for users to choose an alternative for their cross-platform browsing. Besides, the competition always strives parties to compete and improve – which is a good thing.