It’s been made official for a few weeks now that Project Spartan’s name is Edge. Many Windows 10 insiders were disappointed with the browser’s official name though not bad, was just not as cool as Spartan. Many were ready to put on their leather trousers until the reveal. Not much has changed for the browser since the last 10061 release except for the name and the icon. Microsoft’s reason for choosing both the name and icon was for the sake of familiarity as the company did not want to further alienate its users than it already has. The name Edge was the best the company could come up with. It does sound edgy but what’s more important was a name that stood for its new ‘e’ icon.
Edge’s icon looks similar to the old icon for Internet Explorer, a flat lowercase ‘e’ but without the ring. What’s edgy about it is that it looks like two scythes coming held together by a bar forming an ‘e’. Microsoft apparently wanted Windows 10 users to know that when they click the e icon, they’re opening up a browser and not something else. Unfortunately for Edge users might mistake it for Internet Explorer. Microsoft still has time to change it, hopefully. Enough about the name, (still disappointed) how does Microsoft’s new browser stack up against Chrome and Firefox?
As a browser, Edge seems to work fine. The browser remains simplistic as it looked on previous builds. Back, forward and refresh buttons at the left of the integrated search and address box is IMO a great idea and to the right of the address bar is the reading mode and favorites buttons, the web note or annotation button, the feedback button and the ellipsis menu for settings and other stuff. Gone is the main Windows menu which is activated when pressing the Alt key. Edge is keeping things simple. Its elliptic menu is also quite simple and not as confusing or cluttered as Chrome and Firefox’s hamburger menus. It has few important items such as Zoom, Share, Find, Print and Settings. The Settings page is also easy on the eyes and informs the users as simply as it could on the browser’s various settings. Unlike Chrome though, Edge does not automatically adapt to the regional language.
On website rendering, there’s little to no problems encountered with the websites I frequent such as ZDNet, Facebook, Pinterest, Wordress, TechCrunch, Yahoo, YouTube and Wikipedia. Though I’ve noticed that some don’t scroll via touch screen. They work as well as they used to except for some slowdown or lag. There are also times when pages don’t appear immediately and I have to click Refresh. What would be nice if Edge could grab site settings from Internet Explorer such as perpetual logins.
The best feature of Edge for me is the reading mode. For supported websites, it provides a distraction free browsing experience free of ads and popups and other clutter. It works most of the time but excludes some elements that are part of the articles. Also, the Favorites button allows the addition of web pages to either bookmarks or reading lists. Another great feature of Edge is the annotation or web note button which allows users to share annotated web pages. Users can mark, encircle and highlight certain points of a website for personal use or discussion among friends and colleagues. These features are built right into the browser which other browsers do through add-ons. However, annotation works best via touch screen, which again puts emphasis on touch devices somewhat alienating desktop users from this nifty feature. Annotation works well via mice or touch pads but users need real steady hands.
Cortana is also a neat addition to Edge, but something Google has been doing for a while through voice search and Apple through Siri. Nevertheless, this catch-up play by Microsoft does have its merits. Better than nothing at all. With Cortana listening in, busy executives could find her very useful when searching.
Overall, Edge is okay. Still rough around the edges but there’s still time for sharpening until the release date. Is it recommendable? Still depends on the users but good enough for a default browser. Unlike before when I don’t think twice about installing Chrome and Firefox after a clean Windows install. Internet Explorer has had a bad rep ever since those anti-trust problems involving Netscape. As a software company, Microsoft needs a good clean break in the browser business. Edge could be it, though its name, especially the icon could have been better.