“Internet Explorer” could quite possibly be two of the most polarizing words in the last two decades. Throughout its many editions (there have been 11 versions of Explorer to date), the browser has been a source of both convenience and frustration for many consumers. While quite a few individuals have fond memories of Internet Explorer because of the fact that it conveniently came with any Microsoft computer and got the job done efficiently, just as many people immediately ditch it for the faster and more acclaimed Firefox, Google Chrome, or Opera browsers. Well, for all of you who couldn’t stand Explorer, rejoice! Microsoft just launched the new and improved browser known as Microsoft Edge on the 29th of July to replace Internet Explorer once and for all.
As you might expect (and as I mentioned in the title), Microsoft Edge comes prepackaged with the new Windows 10 by default. However, this new browser has a relatively extensive history under a completely different name. It was originally announced back in December of 2014 under the name of “Spartan,” and this moniker was retained all the way until April 29th of this year. It was around the very beginning of the year that Edge would be its own entity apart from Internet Explorer and would replace said browser; however, what’s neat is that Microsoft are using an incredibly similar logo with the signature “e,” presumably so consumers know that it’s a successor to that familiar browser we all know and love (or hate).
Microsoft Edge also utilizes the digital assistant Cortana, which helps the user in terms of search functionality and voice control; as the name suggests, she is based on the famous character from the Halo series of video games. As a nice bonus, Cortana’s voice actress Jen Taylor is reprising her role to voice the U.S. version of the program. The extent of what the digital assistant can do for the user is quite large, even being used to open up apps or set reminders for the individual, as well as send music suggestions based on searches made on Bing. Cortana may seem extraneous to some, but it’s a really nice feature that adds some more intuitiveness to Microsoft Edge and helps in setting it apart from its contemporaries.
So what are my impressions of the new browser? Well, first things first: this is a complete overhaul, despite the fact that it bears the aforementioned “e” symbol. I feel as though many individuals were wary of Edge because perhaps it wouldn’t have altered enough content to be considered its own entity, but believe me when I say this browser is a hell of a lot sleeker and faster than its Internet Explorer predecessor. At the same time, however, don’t go in expecting a bevy of new features. There really aren’t many new features that aren’t already present in Edge’s competitors; even then, though, expecting a highly complex and detailed browser experience would be missing the point altogether. Microsoft Edge is meant to be simple and streamlined, and if you’re judging it by this criteria, it passes with flying colors.
There are also some really nice little touches that show that Microsoft were willing to go the extra mile at times. For instance, as soon as you open up the browser, you get multiple windows detailing different subjects along with the top sites you’ve visited. For example, there’s a news feed (courtesy of MSN) showing what’s going on in both America and the world as a whole, there’s a weather section, there’s a section that shows the scores of various sports teams and their recent victories and losses, and more. This is all present when you open a new tab, so you’re always connected to what’s going on in the world when you open the browser; the best part is that all of this is customized, basing its information and features on your Microsoft account.
Finally, I should talk about the overall performance of the browser from a technical standpoint. Simply put, it’s exactly what Internet Explorer should have been for so many years. Loading times are very quick, the interface is simple and easy to use, and the browser has Adobe Flash support by default. As I said before, the speed and accessibility are really what make up for the relative lack of extensions and other frills. Also, before I wrap things up, I should mention that Edge has a new feature called “Reading List,” which essentially allows the user to store articles and pages for him or her to view later on. Edge formats the page in the most convenient way possible for the individual to read, eliminating ads and making the reading easier in the long run.
If you’re a long-time Internet Explorer user who’s often been frustrated by its issues, Microsoft Edge is one browser you should seriously cherish. It may not be quite as strong as Google Chrome or Opera just yet (primarily in terms of features), but if you simply look for accessibility and efficiency, you can’t go wrong with this browser. Edge might not be life-changing, but it’s the Windows web companion many of us have been waiting for.