Microsoft is working hard to make Edge a great browser -- but is it too late?
Bundling Internet Explorer in Windows 95 was enough for Microsoft to win the "browser wars" and consign Netscape to history, but a lot has changed since then. Bundling Edge in Windows 10 has had negligible effect on Chrome and Firefox’s dominance. After a year and a half, Microsoft Edge still only has a little over 5 percent share, according to NetMarketShare.
It didn’t help that Edge was only partially baked when Windows 10 debuted. Why swap your existing browser for one missing core features and with a far-from intuitive interface? (How to change the default search engine in Microsoft Edge quickly became one of my most viewed stories here). Microsoft is promising a wealth of new features for Microsoft Edge in Windows 10 Creators Update, but will that be enough to persuade users to give the browser a second chance?
Here's Some of What's New
- Forthcoming additions to Edge include tab management features -- users can preview thumbnails of open tabs, and "set aside" tabs so they can be revisited later. Those tabs can be shared too.
- Microsoft is making it easier to import data over from an existing browser.
- You'll be able to choose to run a download link rather than just saving it.
- Microsoft is betting big on 3D in the Creators Update, and is bringing 3D features to Edge, including WebVR support.
- You can open EPUB books in Edge, and Microsoft is adding an ebook section to the Windows Store so you can buy books and read them in Edge or have Edge read them to you.
- There’s a new Payment Request API for Microsoft Edge, which will work with Microsoft Wallet to make online shopping easier.
- Microsoft will continue to court add-on developers in order to grow the browser’s fledgling extension ecosystem (even if the latest Insider Preview build currently kills extensions in the browser).
- Microsoft is also working at making Edge faster, more efficient and more battery friendly.
And today, the software giant also made another announcement:
We’re excited to announce the preview availability of the WebRTC 1.0 API, and support for the H.264/AVC and VP8 video codecs for RTC in Microsoft Edge, enabling plugin-free, interoperable video communications solutions across browsers and platforms.
Microsoft’s future plans include "adding support for the W3C Screen Capture specification, as well as improved support for enterprise scenarios."
But while it’s great to see Edge finally becoming a decent browser, is there anything there that would persuade users to switch from Chrome or Firefox? For me the answer is a resounding no. I use Edge to view PDFs -- because it's the default and I haven't bothered to change it -- but that's about it.
What about you? Are you an Edge user, or could you see yourself ever becoming one?