Edge Homepage – Image by Microsoft
Microsoft’s relationship with web browsers has been tumultuous over the last two and a half-decade. I have used almost all browsers: Tor, Brave, Internet Explorer, Edge, Firefox, and Chrome. While I shifted away from Microsoft’s browser the last 5 years, I was recently re-introduced to MS Edge, and it may be my new go-to browser for some of my key activities.
A brief history of Microsoft browsers
Microsoft has a unique advantage when compared to other browser applications in that it also created operating systems. Due to this, Microsoft can quite easily package its browsers as default applications when installing a new operating system. Very similar to Apple and its Safari browser.
At the beginning of the ‘browser wars’, Microsoft used this advantage to overtake Netscape in the mid-1990s, making its first browser, Internet Explorer, the most used browser (near 95% market share).
Internet Explorer slowly lost its market share to Firefox, Chrome, Opera, and others in the 2000s. Internet Explorer captured a larger market share of the corporate devices throughout its lifecycle, given its integration into the most used operating system globally (Windows). All the companies I have worked at had Internet Explorer as their selected browser.
Then MS Edge was announced
Microsoft Edge was announced in 2015 as the new browser to replace Internet Explorer. However, the first few years did not see the adoption rate that Microsoft had expected due to privacy, design, and UX criticism. By 2020, it still had not overtaken Internet Explorer in market share.
My experience was very similar, with my workplace offering us to use either Internet Explorer or Edge. Edge lead to frustration. It seemed very ‘clunky’. The layout was not as intuitive as other browsers, and it took up a lot of resources on the laptops we all use. On my personal computers, I stuck with Firefox. On my work laptop, I stuck with Internet Explorer.
Then in 2020, Microsoft released a new version of Edge built on Chromium. This changed everything. However, given that most corporations don’t phase in these updates to PCs until, after much more testing, I did not become aware of this new Edge until just this year, when my company pushed the new Edge to us in an update.
While Edge has the advantage of forcing itself into your operating system, it is still impressive that itgrew over 1300% in 2021 to overtake Firefox in market share. According to Stat Counter, Edge stands at around 8% market share and the third most popular browser for May 2021.
My favourite features of Edge
So, only just this year, I got turned onto Edge. I started using it on my personal PC, and here is what I found most enticing.
According to a Tom’s Guide browser test earlier this year, with Edge eating up the least resources of any tested browser:
‘With the 20-tab test, Chrome performed the weakest, eating up 1.8 GB RAM, with Firefox at 1.6 GB and Edge at only 1.4 GB.’
When looking at webpage speed, there are so many factors, but a baseline test done by Avast.com gave Edge the top score for PC browsers, only slower than Safari, which is not available on PC.
One of the main reasons I did not use Edge was that the Microsoft Store is really limited in choice. Even ExpressVPN does not have a place in the extension store.
However, given that the new Edge is based on Chromium, you can now install Chrome store extensions into your Edge browser. Similar in a sense to Windows 11, allowing you to install Android apps from the Amazon store.
This means you can get pretty much all the extensions you could want.
I have not done too much research into some of the code reviews of Edge. However, I do like the initiative taken by Microsoft to default 3rd party cookie blocking and extending the settings for greater privacy control. I still don’t put a halo around Microsoft’s head, but it is very promising to see this direction. I still load in all my favourite privacy extensions, so I am used to many broken sites because I refuse to give them my precise geolocation.
This is the main reason I switched to Edge. I will explain further in the next section, but in short, collections are basically a combination of Notes and Bookmarks. I believe this is the future of browser research.
Article research using Edge Collections
Bookmarks will always have their place. For me, bookmarks are for very static things, like your favourite shopping website or for your favourite Medium author ?. However, what bookmarks lack is the ability to add context or notes to them.
I have gotten around this by saving all-important websites to Notion and then adding in notes or tags later. However, this is also cumbersome when trying to do research.
Research is something we all do. Whether it is research to buy something significant, research for an article you are writing, or research a new policy at work, we all search the Internet for the best information.
First draft of this article with Collections — Image by Author
For example, when researching for this article, I opened a new collection called ‘Edge’. I created the first ‘Note’ to write out my first paragraph of the article. Then I started 3 other notes and used them as section headings.
I first started researching the browser wars and market share. I would ‘add them to the collection and, using the drag and drop feature, dragged them under the first section of ‘browser wars quick update’.
I would add notes and websites until my entire article was outlined and, for the most part, written. It was effortless to start typing out the whole article in Medium, with the collection open on the right-hand panel.
The entire process was so fluid, I think it will be my new Medium writing workflow. It makes jotting down your outline and inputting your research so easy. If you find yourself doing research for anything, you should give Edge a try and let me know how you like it!
Having multiple browsers
With that being said, like other aspects of my Life Operating System (LOS), I do not feel the need to have an ‘all-in-one’ tool. I am okay using a tool for what it is best at.
Edge will not be able to manage all my internet activity. Some sites just don’t like Edge, and therefore I must use other browsers. My LOS has seen Edge become my default for my work laptop and my primary personal browser. However, I still use Tor for certain things, Chrome for testing new applications, Firefox for shopping, and Brave for finances and personal admin. Having multiple browsers allows me to use each for what it is best for and increases my privacy.
So, what browsers do you use and for what purpose? Surprise us!