The new Edge is almost Google Chrome's twin, but with a few extra benefits that might get you thinking about switching over.
- I've been using Microsoft's new Edge web browser for almost two months, and though I've used Google Chrome for several years, I've barely even noticed a difference.
- The new Edge and Chrome are very similar, as both are built on the same Chromium platform. It takes almost no adjustment to switch over from Chrome.
- The new Edge has a few features that set it apart from Chrome, like better privacy settings. It also uses less of my computer's resources, which Chrome is notorious for hogging.
- Perhaps most importantly, the browser extensions you'd find in Chrome are also available in the new Edge too, making it way more useful.
- It's certainly worth trying the new Edge, if only for the better privacy settings and browser efficiency. Over time, Microsoft will surely add more features that will further differentiate it from Chrome.
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I've experimented with web browsers other than Google's dominant Chrome, like Firefox or older versions of Microsoft's Edge, just to see what else is out there and to make sure I'm not missing out on anything.
Those experiments usually don't last long. I typically revert back to Chrome within the day, sometimes after only a few minutes. There's just something about Chrome's design, extended extension library, and functionality that I wasn't getting on other browsers.
But for the first time, I've stuck with a different browser — Microsoft's new Edge, an upgrade from the browser of the same name that launched with Windows 10 in 2015 — for more than a day. In fact, I've stuck with the new Edge for almost two months since I installed it on launch day, January 15.
Here's my experience so far with Microsoft's latest attempt at getting you to use its web browser:
I opened up my laptop one day and completely forgot I was using Microsoft's new Edge browser instead of Chrome.
I realized I was on the new Edge browser only when I searched for something in the address bar and was shown results from Microsoft's Bing search engine instead of my usual Google results.
I actually tried using Microsoft's Bing — the default search engine in Edge — but after a while, I reverted back to the Google search engine. Bing results were overall quite good, but Google still can't be beat. And Google search is better integrated with other Google services I use, like YouTube.
That bodes well for the new Edge web browser. It looks and feels a lot like Chrome, and switching is painless. After all, it's built on the same web-browsing platform, called Chromium, that Google used at the core of Chrome too.
After the initial setup, my bookmarks toolbar was automatically transferred and looks exactly like it does on Chrome, and I installed my favorite extensions with relative ease. One of the biggest "things" about the new Edge is that it supports Chrome extensions too, so you get the wide variety of options that previous versions of Edge didn't have.
And perhaps most importantly for a lot of users, Chrome browser extensions are supported in Edge too.
Any extension you used in Chrome will work in Edge, which is huge news. I couldn't do my work on previous versions of Edge, as I was so reliant on certain extensions to add key features and functionalities to the browser.
That said, Microsoft needs to work on making it easier to find the extensions you want. Right now, Microsoft positions the official Edge extension library as the primary way to get extensions, and some of my extensions aren't available there.
Instead, I need to search for "Chrome web store" and go from there to get the extensions I want. It's a little workaround, but no big deal, and not a deal-breaker. More than anything, it's useful that I can pick any Google Chrome extension I want and start using it with no hassle.
And since using the new Edge browser, I've noticed a couple of things I like better than Chrome.
For one, it doesn't use up as much of my computer's precious resources as Chrome does — namely the RAM that Chrome devours, leading to slow performance over time. And loading web pages on Edge has been just as fast, if not faster.
Right now, with exactly the same number of tabs (19) and the same websites loaded on both web browsers on Windows 10, Edge is using 1.6 GB of RAM and Chrome is using 2 GB.
The privacy settings are also a lot simpler to understand, more robust, and better laid out than on Chrome.
Managing privacy on Edge is much easier than it is on Chrome. Edge's privacy settings are well laid out and do a better job of telling you what it's doing on the privacy front and how it could affect your experience.
In fact, the privacy settings are so powerful that Edge is tricking sites into thinking I have an ad blocker.
On the "strict" privacy setting in Edge, which blocks most trackers on sites, some sites have asked me to disable my ad blocker. The thing is I don't have an ad blocker installed on Edge. That's impressive.
On Chrome, the closest privacy setting I could find to Edge's "strict" option is blocking third-party cookies, and that didn't seem to have any effect on ads.
Should you switch? Sure! Give it a shot!
In many ways, Edge is more or less a Chrome doppelganger, but with a couple of little extras that can plant the seed of considering switching. It's worth a shot, if just for the clearer and more robust privacy settings and the reduced impact on your computer's RAM.
And if you're setting up a new Windows 10 computer, the new Edge has what it takes to be your default web browser rather than just a tool to download Chrome the moment you boot it up.
Down the line, I wouldn't be surprised if the new Edge gets more little features that further set it apart from Chrome.
At the same time, Google's ecosystem goes beyond the Chrome web browser. Chrome is linked in some way or another to my Google account, which includes Gmail, Google Maps, Google Calendar, and so on, and all that ties in with the Google stuff on my smartphone. Microsoft's biggest obstacle will be combatting Google's incredible and far-reaching ecosystem.
To that end, Edge is available on Android and iOS, so your computer and smartphone lives don't have to be separate.
I should note that everyone has a different way of using their web browser of choice, with innumerable little tricks, shortcuts, and customizations, that it's almost impossible for my experience to translate perfectly to yours. If you're making too many compromises or uncomfortable changes when checking out Edge, then maybe it's not for you!