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(Credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft is certainly experienced when it comes to browsers, going back to its flagship web browser Internet Explorer built for Windows 95. For years, Microsoft Internet Explorer dominated the browser market, accounting for more than 90 percent of all browser usage in 2003.

However, with the introduction of Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome and even Apple's Safari, Microsoft's dominance of the browser market has dwindled to the point where it lags far behind the big three (Chrome, Firefox and Safari) and even UC Browser and Opera, according to some charts.

To stop the decline, in 2016 Microsoft decided to take a different direction and launched Microsoft Edge, a new generation browser that allowed Microsoft to shed the security issues that hounded Internet Explorer. The first generation of Edge, however, didn't find the audience Microsoft hoped, and the company recently announced that it will slowly move Microsoft Edge to a Chromium platform in 2019.

The transformation won't happen in one fell swoop, but rather in pieces over the year. For this reason, we are choosing to review Microsoft Edge as it stands in late 2018. Right now, Edge is available for Windows 10, but the move the the Chromium underpinning may allow the company to bring it to the Mac. and if you want to keep on Microsoft's progress with Edge, you can sign up for the insider program and run early test builds on the next generation of Edge.

Edge web browser speed

Microsoft Edge isn't going to break any speed records, but it isn't a dog either. In our informal tests, Edge is comparably fast to its main browser competitors. And it beats Chrome in a couple of browser activities. In the end, Microsoft designed Edge to be a fast and modern browser, and it is, bringing enough speed that it feel plenty fast in day to day browsing.

Edge web browser security

One of the areas where Microsoft wanted to focus on with its news browser was security. Edge's predecessor, Internet Explorer, was rife with holes that made it a target for hackers for many years. Edge, on the other hand, is much more secure at blocking malicious websites and activities. It's not perfect, but it better than IE.

Edge web browser privacy

When it comes to preventing tracking, Edge doesn't offer the breadth of tracking protection that Firefox or Brave offers. The hope is, with the browser's move to Chromium, users will gain more control over the information they share via extensions.

Edge web browser interface

Edge's interface is clean and intuitive. It doesn't offer the customization other browsers provide, but you have some, such as control the color schemes. One nice feature that many will appreciate is that when audio is playing from a tab, a little speaker icon appears to show you which tab is being noisy. While this may seem like a first-world problem, when multiple tabs are open and an ad or YouTube video starts playing, it can be a pain to click through all the tabs to see where the audio is coming from. This addition makes it easy to spot the offending tab at a glance.

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(Credit: Microsoft)

Edge web browser ebook Reader

Microsoft Edge has added a distraction-free ebook reader that allows you to download and read ebooks on your PC. This handy feature can also hear books read aloud with one of a number of voices.It's a nice touch.

Edge web browser extensions

Microsoft Edge offers only approved browsing extensions through their store, and while the selection isn't overwhelming, you can pick from a few handy extensions such as Grammarly password managing extensions.

Pros

  • Speed. Edge is definitely a fast Windows browser, although not the champion.
  • Interface. Edge's interface is simple and intuitive.
  • Ebooks. Edge includes an ebook reader that's pretty slick.
  • Privacy and security. Edge is excellent at blocking phishing websites.

Cons

  • Extensions. Edge has a limited stable of approved extensions.
  • New version coming. Microsoft has committed to move Edge to a Chromium engine throughout 2019.

Bottom line

Microsoft Edge browser for Windows is a leap forward from the outdated but still available Internet Explorer. It's faster, far safer and very stable than its predecessor for web browsing. The inclusion of an ebook reader is a nice touch and there are plenty of interface niceties that will endear many users to Edge. It'll be interesting to see how Edge's move to Chromium (said to be gradual throughout 2019) is going to come about and how it'll affect Edge's security and performance.

Competitive products

  • Google Chrome. Google's browser (download on Windows and Mac) is the most used in the world.
  • Firefox Quantum. Mozilla's flagship product (download on Windows and Macs) is arguably the fastest and most secure of the major browsers.
  • Safari. Apple's signature browser (download on Mac) is used mostly by Mac users but is also available for Windows.
  • Opera. A browser with fewer features (download on Windows and Mac), but good for slower internet connections.
  • Brave. A new browser (download for Windows and Mac) with a focus on privacy and an interesting way of compensating websites.

Read more

Bart G. Farkas is an author and writer and has more than 100 print gaming strategy guides to his name. He has been writing about gaming and technology for over 20 years in numerous magazines. He has also written more than a dozen non-gaming technology books and writes the odd romance novel when so moved. Bart lives in Alberta, Canada.