Microsoft Edge Is Reborn: How Does It Compare to the Old Legacy Version?
Microsoft Edge has been around since Windows 10 launched in 2015, but it didn’t make an impact in the way Microsoft hoped. That’s why Microsoft has rebuilt Edge in 2020. It features a fresh logo and different technology under the hood.
But is the new Edge worth trying? Let’s see what the revamped version of Microsoft Edge has to offer and how it compares to the legacy version.
What’s Up With the New Microsoft Edge?
Starting in 2020, “Microsoft Edge” refers to a brand-new browser. Microsoft is calling the old one “Edge Legacy” and won’t actively support it.
The biggest difference with the new version of Microsoft Edge is that it’s based on Chromium. If you’re not familiar, Chromium is an open-source browser project made by Google. It serves as the backbone of Google Chrome, but is also free for anyone to adapt and use as they like.
As it turns out, many browsers are powered by Chromium. Opera and Vivaldi are examples of other popular Chromium-based browsers.
How Does Chromium Change Edge?
Because Edge is now Chromium-based, it supports Chrome extensions. This means that you can use your favorite add-ons from the Chrome Web Store in Microsoft’s browser—see below for a few caveats on this, though. Since the original version of Edge had a paltry collection of extensions, this is welcome news.
Notably, Edge now uses the Blink rendering engine, which is open source. The old version used Microsoft’s proprietary EdgeHTML engine, meaning that all major browsers now use open source engines.
Another major improvement is that Edge now updates on a regular schedule as Chrome does. This is much better than the old scheme, where Edge would only get updates a few times a year through major Windows updates.
Microsoft states that it took this path for better compatibility with both users and web developers.
How Do I Get the New Edge Browser?
You can download the new Microsoft Edge right now. It’s available for Windows 10, of course, but Microsoft has also made it available for Windows 8.1, Windows 7, macOS, Android, and iOS. The company plans to bring it to Linux in the future, too.
If you don’t install it manually, you’ll eventually get the browser delivered through Windows Update. You’ll need to have the May 2019 Update or later for this, so make sure you’ve updated your copy of Windows 10 if you’re running an old version. The new Edge should also come included with the May 2020 Update for Windows 10.
When you install the browser on Windows 10, it will replace the legacy version of Edge. Don’t worry; Windows 10 still includes Internet Explorer for compatibility reasons. The new Edge has a blue and green wave-looking logo instead of the old blue “e” that was similar to the Internet Explorer logo.
Exploring Microsoft Edge 2.0
When you first look around Microsoft Edge, you’ll definitely notice the similarities to Google Chrome, if you’re familiar with that browser. Most interface elements, such as the navigation bar, tabs, task manager, and three-dot menu are almost identical to how they look in Chrome.
Of course, Edge replaces the Google services in Chrome with similar Microsoft services. The Sync icon in the top-right will sync your data across Edge installs using your Microsoft account instead of your Google account.
Most of the Settings are the same as Chrome. The main difference is on the Privacy and services tab: you can choose from Basic, Balanced, and Strict levels of tracker prevention.
The Collections feature, which looks like a set of photographs next to the Favorites star, is one notable difference from Chrome. A collection allows you to gather links, images, and other web content in one place. It’s handy for creating a wishlist or Pinterest-like collection of items that are more flexible than bookmarking.
To try them, click Start new collection in the panel and give it a name. Now, with the collections page open, you can click Add current page, drag any link, or move an image to save them. There’s also an Add note button for bits of text.
Click the three-dot button in the collections panel for a few options, including exporting your collection to Word, Excel, or to open them all in a new window.
Using Chrome Extensions in Edge
Head to the Microsoft Edge Add-Ons page to browse the list of official extensions. It includes popular choices like Dark Reader and Grammarly, but you probably won’t find your favorite niche Chrome extensions there.
Thankfully, the new Edge is compatible with Chrome extensions. To enable them, open the three-dot menu at the top-right of Edge and click Extensions. In the bottom-left, enable the Allow extensions from other stores slider and accept the warning.
Now, you can visit the Chrome Web Store and install extensions from there. Some might not work properly in Edge, so make sure to test them after installing.
Should You Use Microsoft Edge Now?
There’s really not much more to using the revamped Microsoft Edge. If you’re familiar with Chrome, Edge is very similar, aside from the layout of the settings menu and a few options. So should you give it a try?
If you’re unsatisfied with your current browser for any reason, or just want to try something different, it’s worth a look. The new Edge doesn’t offer huge improvements over Chrome, but depending on your preferences, that could be perfect. Maybe you want a reliable and flexible browser that’s not tied to Google—as long as you don’t mind Microsoft’s integration with it.
It’s much more appealing than the old version of Edge, which really didn’t offer any great reasons to use it. While it did have an ebook reader and annotation features, those aren’t exactly game-changers. Plus, the new Edge has better syncing options since it’s available on all platforms.
Regardless of whether you use Microsoft Edge, this new setup is beneficial for almost everyone. People who can’t install a new browser get a much better experience from the preinstalled option, and Chrome will hopefully improve from the more direct competition.
Microsoft Edge Is Reborn
We’ve looked at the changes Microsoft made to Edge and what those mean for the browser. Whether you make it your new default or try it once and ignore it afterward, this is a positive change. We’ll see how Microsoft continues to differentiate the browser going forward.
If you want to try a different browser, have a look at our comparison of the various Firefox versions.
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