Microsoft Edge is getting new features that may get you to switch browsers

David Matthews

Posts: 364   +70
Staff member

Microsoft's Edge has gone from a decent browser replacement for Internet Explorer to a modern, well-thought-out browser that warrants your consideration over Chrome or Firefox. To sweeten the pot, Microsoft recently announced quite a few upcoming features that may tempt you to switch.

"Last year, we started our re-imagining of the web by rebuilding our Microsoft Edge browser from the ground up based on the Chromium engine. This ensured we could deliver world class speed, performance and website compatibility with the sites and extensions you use every day," wrote Microsoft VP Liat Ben-Zur. "But we believe that’s not enough. It’s time to expect more from our browsers – more control over our data and our family’s online information, new ways to organize our online research and more value back as we browse."

Password Monitor & Tracking Protection

This will likely be a very useful feature in light of recent data breaches. Essentially, Edge will compare the credentials you've saved to autofill with a database of known compromised credentials and notify you to take action if it finds a match. There will be a dashboard in the settings menu that will take you directly to the affected website to change your password.

Microsoft is also adding a new tracking protection feature that allows users to set a certain level of tracking level to either basic, balanced, or strict.

Basic blocks only "known harmful trackers" while allowing most others. Balanced blocks trackers from websites you haven't visited along with harmful trackers. Strict blocks most trackers and could hamper performance on certain websites. This is most similar to how Firefox handles tracking protection.

Immersive Reader

On the surface, the "Immersive Reader" feature is reminiscent of similar browser extensions that strip away extraneous ads and pictures to focus on the words. However, Edge adds a few more options including being able to select text size, spacing, and color scheme. Line Focus dims most of the words except those at the center, presumably to help focus on one line or sentence at a time for easier reading.

There are also surprisingly robust grammar tools that allow you to break all of the words on the page into syllables and even the different parts of speech (noun, verb, adjectives, adverbs). This could be very useful for those learning a new language or for small children.

For those with poor eyesight (or just lazy), there is a "Read aloud" option. Each word is highlighted as it is spoken with unfamiliar words being spelled out. Jim Salter at Ars Technica praised the overall accuracy of the spoken voice as well as how natural it sounded. The default voice is called Microsoft Jenna but you can choose up to 24 other voices and adjust the reading speed of each.

Vertical Tabs & Edge Collections

This is one of those things that you'd think would be implemented more often. Edge will be able to display tabs on the side instead of on top. I could see this being helpful in avoiding accidental tab closures. You'll even be able to rearrange multiple tabs at once by using Control + Click.

In the same vein of managing multiple websites, Edge Collections allows users to collate multiple websites under a single list for future reference. This could be helpful when writing academic papers and you're trying to organize a bunch of online sources. While you could technically just stick all the websites in a regular folder, Collections makes it a lot more elegant and streamlined.

Overall, it seems that Edge is getting some much needed features that make it more than just "good enough." Microsoft overhauled Edge completely two years ago by stripping out the proprietary EdgeHTML rendering engine and replacing it with the open source Chromium engine. This new "Edge-ium" was finally released last April.

Per NetMarketShare, Edge still sits right below Internet Explorer with an install base of 6.2%. These new features could go a long way to increase Edge user adoption and ease it past its older brother.

Unfortunately, most of the new features aren't out yet, even for the Canary and Dev Insider channels. If you're still interested in all of the new features, feel free to read Ben-Zur's blog post here.

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seeprime

Posts: 459   +491
My problem is with data collection that the browser collect, otherwise it is nice browser
Also, Edge does not delete the entire history when you tell it to. It keeps some and hides the data, which can be seen and removed when using a cleaner that works with Chromium Edge. I went back to Chrome, and Brave, for this reason.
 

psycros

Posts: 3,093   +3,152
Also, Edge does not delete the entire history when you tell it to. It keeps some and hides the data, which can be seen and removed when using a cleaner that works with Chromium Edge. I went back to Chrome, and Brave, for this reason.
Chrome may not store your data locally but it sends almost everything to Google, so if privacy and safety are your concern maybe Chromium would be a better option. It leaves out most of the Google spying.
 

fps4ever

Posts: 404   +395
I'll be sticking to Firefox until I'm confident there's no tracking or data collection going on without my explicit consent.
Have you tried it out yet? It is really nice and polished for the most part. But I hear you about the tracking part.
 

Polycount

Posts: 2,402   +541
Staff member
Have you tried it out yet? It is really nice and polished for the most part. But I hear you about the tracking part.
I tried it when it first came out and was unimpressed, but these new features have caught my eye. What are some of your favorite things about it?
 

fps4ever

Posts: 404   +395
I tried it when it first came out and was unimpressed, but these new features have caught my eye. What are some of your favorite things about it?
To be honest I'm pretty satisfied to just have basic needs like, fast, stable, good at storing passwords and a usable ad blocker. Your needs might be more specific. The earlier builds were stable but a little glitchy. If you ever try it again I would suggest the beta or developers builds from MS Insider for testing. Those are much more recent builds and they all come with a what's new and what is fixed web page after installation.

https://www.microsoftedgeinsider.com/en-us/download
 

trparky

Posts: 709   +604
I've been using this browser for the last six months. Never in my life did I think I'd be using a Microsoft web browser again but here I am, using Microsoft Edge. It's actually good, dare I say I great browser.
 

ziffel66

Posts: 65   +90
Firefox already natively does most of what is listed here, and extensions in FF or Chrome most certainly do. None of this is new or switch-worthy, IMO.
 
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bviktor

Posts: 152   +293
Never gonna happen. It's about trust and assured security. Microsoft can't offer those things with closed source software. So, No Thank You. Edge can fall to dust where it belongs.
Oh yeah I'm sure you audit the code of Firefox all the time. Kiddies...
 

Axle Greese

Posts: 41   +13
Edge is a pretty solid browser. Three negatives though.

1) The user cannot choose a website to load upon opening a new tab and is instead stuck with Bing.

2) No WebVR. WebVR and WebXR extensions are in development but so far the focus is on only mixed reality headsets and their controllers. Firefox works with my HTC Vive.

3) A lack of themes. Chrome themes are currently incompatible.
 
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dylannnnnn

Posts: 26   +19
I installed and use it daily as my browser with no accounts signed in, it seems to work quite well.

Chrome is still my daily.
Opera is my alternative: the tab workspaces, built in vpn and ad blocker are great useful features. I just wish you could sync bookmarks continuously between Chrome and Opera.
 

trgz

Posts: 298   +81
Ah, but can you put the tabs below the address bar (where they should naturally be)? It can still be done in Firefox
 

fps4ever

Posts: 404   +395
Never gonna happen. It's about trust and assured security. Microsoft can't offer those things with closed source software. So, No Thank You. Edge can fall to dust where it belongs.
If you are looking for trust and security from any of the major web browsers all I have to say is good luck. It's disingenuous to single out Chrome Edge for that. I have to use all 3 at work plus Opera, they all have good points and bad. Maybe Tor plus a vpn is more your style. I'd be more concerned about my mobile surfing habits than any desktop.