Microsoft Edge browser - Tips to use and comparison with Firefox and Chrome


Read what new features Microsoft is planning to bring with the Edge browser. Know how to make use of these new tools and how it will change the way you experience the web. Also check out how it performed in performance tests against Firefox and Google Chrome.

If you haven't heard about it yet, then it is high time you should - Microsoft is coming with a new browser, named Edge, which will be primary focus of attention for Microsoft in Windows 10. In the recent Summit that Microsoft held for the demo of the features of Windows 10, Product Manager Lead of Project Spartan (code name for Edge browser in Windows Insider) made it clear that they are keeping the support for IE only to support the websites that still use the proprietary software of Microsoft like ActiveX. IE will going forward get only security updates and all the rest of development focus will be on Edge browser, which by the way they hope to see being used on 1 billion devices within 2 years.

Let's go through the new features in Edge before we start comparing it with the top 2 browsers of our time - Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.

Reading View

If you have read an ebook of any format on your desktop or a handheld gadget, then you know what a reading view appears like. It is a non-distracting view to read with all side bars gone, header and footer of the webpage removed; all you have is the content related to the article - the thumbnail for the article, title, summary, content, images and comments if any with the article. An uncluttered view will come very handy when reading a long article or for that matter, on most of the webpages considering that we actually spend around 90% of the time online reading only. For the website owners however, this is not too good a news; though it will give the users a very good experience but those little distractions in the side bar, aka the ads are what keeps the websites running and could mean a serious loss to websites owners.

Reading View in Edge

Web Note

The way we interact with the content of a webpage has changed a lot over the years. With the arrival of mobile phones, tablets and touch enabled computers, the screen has become the primary user input source. How nice it would be if we could do some modifications to the webpage just like we do when we have a book in our hands. Highlighting few points, crossing out something and then sharing it with some or storing for future reference. Let's take an example - Many of you would have referred an online recipe and for sure would have made modifications here or there so that it suits your taste better. Now, wouldn't it be incredible if you could mark that change in the webpage itself, store it somewhere so that 2 months later when you are treating your family with the same tasty cake you made, you don't have to make guesses what changes you had done the last time?

Web Note features

This is what the Web Note feature of Edge empowers you to. Using the Web Note feature you can do incredible things on the webpage which you would think why were not present with the browsers before! It comes so naturally to us when we are reading a book but we don't even think about this limitation when on a webpage. And the best thing is that you can easily share these customized webpages with individuals or groups.

Share Web Note pages from Edge browser

Right now there is only support for keeping it in your Reading List to be read later by you or use One Note to store it online and keep it for yourself or share it. However, going forward expect more additions like Facebook, Twitter and even emails.

Decluttering on UI

If you had a chance to check out Edge browser on Windows 10 then you would have surely noticed how clean the interface looks. The area below the address bar is completely clean and there are just a few buttons in the address bar. The other important pages like Favorites and History have been clubbed under a single icon.

Favorites, Reading list, History, Downloads in Edge

An addition done here is of the Reading list. What earlier you would have used Favorites for - marking pages that you would like to read again in the future, Microsoft now hopes that you would use the Reading list for that purpose. It would give you a differentiation between marking pages that you frequently visit like Facebook and pages that you just mark for reading later like a news article or a recipe in which you used after editing using Web Note. The only limitation I felt here was that Web Note works only on static pages, when you click on the Web Note icon, it will take a sort of screenshot of the whole page including the part that you have to scroll down and then only you can make use of Web Note features.

With Edge you can even change the size and color of text and background to suit you reading needs. The end product in summer end might contain few more small additions but for now these are the primary features that Microsoft hopes would make you use Edge as a default browsers.

Cortana

And yes, how can we forgot the native voice assistant Cortana that ships with Windows 10. Cortana is integrated into Edge too like many other features. Though most of its features are right now not working outside of US, but in the demo shown, Cortana can help you in your quick questions like typing 'weather' in the address bar of Edge will directly give you the weather details of your location without taking you to a new page. Similarly, if you encounter a word on the page of which you don't know the meaning of, you can just highlight the word and in the right click menu click on "Ask Cortana". Cortana would show you information about that work in the right side of the webpage without interrupting your present screen.

Weather using Edge and Cortana

Comparison with Google Chrome

I ran Octane 2.0 benchmark tests on Chrome Version 43.0.2357.65 m and Edge was a clear winner in this department. For those who don't know, Octane 2.0 Benchmark test is a Javascript engine's performance test that is used by Google to measure a browser performance based on the complex web applications a web browser has to deal nowadays.

Edge vs Chrome

Even when talking in simple terms, Edge plans to support extensions and plugins from different ecosystems, which means it would support both Mozilla and Chrome apps making the migration for users a very simple choice. This is in line with Microsoft's dream for a Universal ecosystem where apps designed in any code can be used on Windows ecosystem and vice verse.

Comparison with Mozilla Firefox

I use Firefox Developer Edition 40.0a2 (2015-05-23). This is the most latest code on which I ran Octane 2.0 and Firefox too fell far behind the scores returned by Edge.
Octane 2.0 Firefox vs Edge
As is clear from the results, Firefox is far behind in performance section from Edge.

These two browsers form the main opposition to Edge in the market and if Edge continues to lead like this, I see no reason why users won't want to migrate to this new browser.

Also Read What is New in Microsoft Edge Browser?


Comments

Author: Timmappa Kamat30 May 2015 Member Level: Gold   Points : 5

Hopefully the new browser from Microsoft will be able to shed the tag so far associated with it as being the slowest browser. The planned introduction of extensions could be a good idea in this direction. This will bring Edge at par with Chrome and Firefox in terms of features. Exact functionality will only be tested after the formal introduction.
The reading view is one more good initiative. This will help get a good reading experience because of the ability to get rid of ads. Well, it would be a bad news for the website owners though as they will lose out on ad revenues.

Author: Paresh Gujarati30 May 2015 Member Level: Gold   Points : 0

I am eagerly waiting for this browser to use. I have a question regarding display of ads by Google. Does this browser make any adverse effect on display of ads on pages? How does it affect? What are the pros and cons of Microsoft Edge browser with respect to ads?

Author: Ankit05 Jun 2015 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 3

Hi Paresh,
Edge displays the ads normally like other browsers, however, it is the reading view where Edge removes the side bars and with that the ads too.

The ads that are vertically in alignment with the content will be shown, but those in side bar would get removed.



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