[Editor's note: This article reviews highlights of Microsoft Edge when Windows 10 was in the public preview stage. Microsoft released Windows 10 (and thus Microsoft Edge) on July 29, 2015. Corey's observations about new features are still worth a read. Microsoft likely fixed the places where Corey discusses non-quite-functional features.]
We saw our first look at Microsoft’s new web browser back in March 2015 with Windows 10 Build 10049. Now, starting with build 10058, you can find the browser is now more feature complete and has been rebranded as Microsoft Edge. Note that the official product name has Microsoft in it. I am guessing that just “Edge” by itself is too short and isn’t distinctive enough.
You can find Microsoft Edge in the task bar with a new icon that looks rather similar to the Internet Explorer icon.
Remember that Internet Explorer 11 is still around for backwards compatibility. This should help with old legacy apps that don’t run well on newer browsers.
The first time you launch Microsoft Edge, you will be taken to the Introducing Microsoft Edge page, which shows you some of the features of the browser.
The Introducing Microsoft Edge website.
When you open a new tab next time though, you’ll see the new default tab. If you have logged into Windows with a Microsoft account, Microsoft Edge knows who you are. This allows it to personalize your experience. By default, it will show you sites that are popular, but it will learn from your browsing history and start showing sites you visit often. To start browsing, just start typing a search query or a URL.
Clicking on a new tab in Microsoft Edge will show you Top sites.
Clicking the Show my news feed link will populate the new tab page with news stories, weather, sports, and other information powered by MSN. If you have ever provided information to any of the built-in Windows 8 apps such as Weather, Sports or News, it will use that information.
The Top sites and suggested content view in Microsoft Edge personalizes the content to you when web browsing in Windows 10.
If you don’t want new tabs cluttered with content, you can always choose a blank page as well.
When evaluating a new web browser, compatibility is important. In earlier versions of "Project Spartan," I ran into a few issues, but the situation has improved significantly since then. For example, in Build 10130, you couldn’t use Office 365 or Yammer. In fact, "Project Spartan" would tell you that you are better off using Internet Explorer to visit those sites. With Build 10159, this issue is gone. In fact, most issues I have seen before are gone. It even supports Adobe Flash for sites that still use it. For those that don’t like Adobe Flash you can easily disable it from the settings menu.
Microsoft Edge comes with Adobe Flash support as shown on cbs.com.
Edge even supports game pads as shown in their FlightArcade.com demo.
I can’t stress how awesome Reading view is. Microsoft designed this feature to get rid of the noise when you are reading your favorite articles, providing a distraction-free reading experience. When a site supports Reading view, the Reading view icon (the book in the toolbar) will highlight. Clicking that button gives you a completely stripped down version of the web page. It removes all navigation, advertisements and more. It makes reading articles a much more pleasant experience. Let’s look at this example from ibtimes.com. You can’t do anything on this site without seeing five advertisements. I mean really a full video right in the middle of the article? Come on!
This article on ibtimes.com includes embedded video advertisements and multiple banner ads.
Now, look at the page with Reading view enabled. All of the ads are gone.
Reading view in Microsoft Edge removes advertisements, embedded videos and navigation to make reading a news story a clean experience.
Reading view now has a few theme settings including Light, Medium and Dark.
In Microsoft Edge Settings you can choose a new theme for Reading view.
Take a look at the same article with the Dark theme.
The same article using the Dark Theme in the Reading view in Microsoft Edge.
Whether you have a touchscreen device or not, Web Notes are really cool. They allow you to annotate a page, mark it up, and share it. Gone are the days of copying and pasting a screenshot into Paint and then making notes. To get started, click the Make a Web Note icon in the tool bar (the icon with a pencil and paper). This will switch the browser to a mode where you can start highlighting things, use different colors and add text. Even if you are using a keyboard and mouse, Web Notes are useful.
Web Notes allow you to use your Surface pen or mouse and keyboard to take notes directly on a web page. You can save these notes to your Reading List or even OneNote.
When you are done making notes, you can save the notes for later and easily share them with other people or save them into OneNote. You can even view Web Notes in other browsers like Google Chrome. That experience basically just renders one large static image of the entire page but it’s nice that others can view your notes outside of Microsoft Edge.
Many of the features you come to expect in a web browser are in place now as well. This includes favorites, a reading list, a download list, F12 Developer Tools, printing and InPrivate browsing.
Microsoft Edge now has a variety of configuration options. You can access it by clicking on the ellipsis menu (…) and then choosing Settings. Here you can configure how the browser starts, clear browsing history, show the home button, configure advanced settings and even change to a dark theme.
In the Edge Settings menu, you can enable a dark theme for the browser.
In previous builds of Windows 10, Edge still had problems with zoom levels and display scaling. For example, you would drag an Edge window from your Surface Pro 3 desktop to an external monitor and the size of the window would be off and the text would be the wrong size. Now, Edge automatically adjusts the zoom level from 150% to 100% when going to a lower DPI display. However, sometimes this doesn’t still work quite right and it forgets to change the zoom level or a particular tab will be at the wrong zoom level.
You can now drag and drop tabs to move them around as well as move them into a new window. However, in Build 10159 I have seen a number of issues with this feature. Oftentimes the new browser window doesn’t render right and it simply just displays the Microsoft Edge logo. It never reloads the page.
I’ve only had Microsoft Edge crash on me once so far in Build 10159. I recommend using the setting Open with Previous Pages so that all of your tabs that were open before will be open again when you relaunch the browser. I actually think this should be the default setting.
Your feedback wanted
Microsoft wants your feedback on how the browser works, especially from developers. Be sure and go to the Microsoft Edge uservoice forum to submit your ideas and feedback.