18 April 2017

Paul Thurrott: “Edge of 17(03): Microsoft’s Web Browser is Still Lacking”

And yet. As is has always been the case, I (re)evaluate Microsoft Edge. And I find it lacking. In fact, if you go back to last summer, to the eve of the Anniversary Update, you will see that I similarly found the improvements to Edge in that release to be impressive. But still lacking.

Here in the first half of 2017, my complaints remain basically the same. And for all the things I do like about Edge—the text rendering on the high DPI displays that are common today, the built-in Reading View, the pleasant and modern user experience, the battery life advantages, and so on—simply can’t overcome this browser’s very real disadvantages.

To be fair, some of these complaints are very specific and may not be an issue for you. Workflow is what it is, and while I try to change how I do things from time-to-time, I’m as flawed as anyone else and expect things to work the way I prefer.

Paul Thurrott

To be fair, most users won’t care about most of these complaints – and I don’t either. On my laptop and Windows tablet, I have browsed almost exclusively with Microsoft Edge ever since I upgraded, so more than a year and a half by now.

The only major downside for the first year was indeed the lack of extensions. Even now there are very few extensions for Edge compared to Chrome or Firefox, but I already have my basics (LastPass and an ad-blocker), so this is largely a solved issue for me. Mobile sync would be nice to have, but not a major issue. I keep a copy of Chrome on my laptop and, whenever I need to send something to my iPhone (or my work computer), I open the link in Chrome and sync it across. And as a more experienced user than most, I have no trouble using Edge’s Developer Tools – everything you need is right there in the Inspect view. As for full-screen, a couple of commenters mentioned an obscure keyboard shortcut, Win+Shift+Enter, to make UWP apps full-screen, that works for Edge too.

There is a problem I see though for the long-term development of the browser: feature updates are currently delivered alongside major Windows updates, so at best twice a year, while other browsers (except for Safari), are updating on a fast and steady six-weeks schedule. To compete with them, I think Edge should ideally decouple from Windows and start delivering smaller updates at a faster pace, maybe every three months.

Update: fortunately, this should be fixed soon, as some news articles report that Microsoft Edge will start receiving updates via the Windows Store in the next Windows feature update, so in about six months, if all goes according to plan.

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