In most people’s minds around the world, Microsoft Internet Explorer means a bad internet browsing experience and for what feels like decades now, the Internet has been full of jokes like claiming that the only purpose of Edge or Internet Explorer is to download another browser because people still don’t seem to differentiate between the two is to download another browser which got me thinking if nobody seems to like using it then why does Microsoft still keep pushing it.
Let’s talk about Microsoft Edge
Let’s see what the stats have to say according to start browser Edge makes up a tiny 1.89% of all browsing on all platforms. It’s up from 1.72% a year ago which is some a month of growth. I notice that even relatively minor browsers like the Samsung browser, the ancient Internet Explorer and UC browser all handily outperform it when it comes to overall market share.
Now let’s check the stats for desktops Edge version which is close up to 4.11% up slightly from 3.58% a year ago. That’s just half a percent of the growth in a year and there are two important trends to note:
- First, internet explorer fell over three percent in the same period. This means that people who leave internet explorer generally don’t switch to edge but leave Microsoft’s browsers behind altogether at the same time. Windows 10 adoption worldwide has been very fast and its market share has finally overtaken Windows 7 which makes it extra surprising that edge the default browser of Windows 10 did not benefit from its growth.
- It means that maybe for the first time ever the masses are not choosing the default solution and while other statistic websites show slightly different pictures their results overall are clear edge is a minor player that users don’t seem to want to adopt which really begs two questions why don’t you just want it and why does Microsoft still push it.
Nonetheless, well let me start by making a statement you won’t hear very often here on the internet. Edge doesn’t suck unless you are a power user of Edge Browser. Edge will work just fine for you and all the basics are covered. It has quick startup and performance. Edge is secure and it even looks fairly attractive in my opinion.
Issues with Edge
Hell no, when I asked web developers in my company they said they had fewer problems supporting edge than they had supporting Safari on the Mac. There are even areas where edge does better than other browsers. It is arguably the only browser that works well with touch on Windows and the only one that I know that supports digital pens at all.
Edge did have a few glaring issues when it was first launched. Specifically, it didn’t support any extensions and it was limited to Windows 10. But those two have mostly been fixed and there is now an Android and iOS app for Edge browser that uses the native browser technologies of each platform. So they have the exact same performance as Chrome and Safari.
Let me tell you an interesting stuff, Edge on the phone and Windows Edge extensions are also available now. Although the selection here is not quite on the same level as that on other platforms, either way, my point is not that if you are the power user, switch to Edge. I myself am a happy Firefox user and I think Firefox and Chrome are still a better choice for most power users.
How Edge is different from Internet Explorer
However, unlike in the days of Internet Explorer, the quality difference between Edge and the others isn’t that huge and usually when the default option is good enough then normies. Users don’t attempt to switch, so why are they switching either case of Edge.
Well, I can think of three main reasons:
- First, the branding honestly making the edge logo looks similar to the Internet Explorer. One was just Microsoft shooting themselves in the foot it’s hard to think of a brand that is worse than that of Internet Explorer. Edge is a completely new browser from top to bottom and it’s better than IE in almost every way.
- Another whole reason I imagine, Microsoft replaced Internet Explorer with Edge is that as usage numbers clearly show people didn’t like Internet Explorer. So why on earth would they hamstring Edge right from the start? Honestly, I can only think that they just wanted to give non-techies who upgraded from Windows 7 to Windows 10, a familiar icon but they should have just left internet explorer to die.
- The third reason is simply put off Google’s dominance over the internet and smartphones. I mean to say, if you open any Google site on Edge, you will constantly be bombarded with nasty download prompts for Chrome. Many newer ones like Cuckoo, for example, won’t work at all and since most people around the world use their Android phone as their primary computing device more often than not relying on Google services their default browser on their phone. This will impact the browser choice on their desktop, not the other way around makes sense so with bad branding andGoogle’s dominance over the web and smartphones.
Why Microsoft still bother Edge?
It is little wonder that people are switching to Chrome but if that’s the case why does Microsoft still bother with Edge. Well, it seems obvious that an OS would have a default browser, after all, more and more tasks are moving from local apps onto the web.
But there is much more to a built-in browser in Edge. Microsoft wants to push through new system-wide features. It needs places to showcase them including a browser it can control in the past things like inking with digital pens, touch support, or even Cortana integrations were big pushes for Microsoft.
Edge is also one of the main vehicles for Microsoft and big features in the future also seems to rely on edge a lot. Edge is the only browser that runs natively within Windows mixed reality which Microsoft claims as one of their main focuses going forward and upcoming features, for example, rely on edge if sets ever really make it out of the beta labs. It will allow users to group multiple app windows such as Word documents, OneNote pages as well as browser tabs into a browser like a Windows with tabs based on edge technology.
Of course, there are many more examples like this and the point is that Microsoft needs good first party apps and especially a good browser to bring their future ideas to life. They can’t just rely on Firefox or Chrome to help them push new windows features. Default browsers also have a few other important implications specifically their rendering engines are used all over, their operating systems often without a users knowledge.
How does Edge work on Android?
Edge on Android much like most other Android apps actually uses the native chrome rendering engine and builds functionality like Microsoft syncing on top of that. In the same way, Edge and even Chrome works on iOS news app Safari engine and simply add their own customizations on top.
This is a new technology that you can experience on Android and if you want to see it for yourself I recommend trying mobile.twitter.com on Chrome and Firefox. It will just let you add a homepage icon for supported pages which make it look and feel like a real app with offline capabilities, push notifications, background syncing, and more. But remember these apps will be powered entirely by a browser.
Edge soon will support progressive web apps on Windows 10 in its next update and they will be installed from the Microsoft Store at first and directly from edge later without the edge UI on top of them and they’ll have access to native windows features like notifications, live tiles as well as Cortana and so on just like real apps.
Google and Microsoft are both pushing for progressive web apps to become the next big app platform.
Microsoft will need Edge to make that happen and the last noteworthy feature of Edge is one that I think most people don’t even know is actually also an app to read PDFs and most recently also ebooks. Microsoft really wants to turn Windows 10 into an education platform where students can read books for school, annotate them, write on them with a digital pen and so on.
Conclusion for the Edge Browser
In other words, Edge goes beyond just browsing the web. So it’s clear that Microsoft needs edge not only as a simple web browser but also because it is the glue that holds many other pieces Windows 10 together. But if Microsoft really wants to make people start loving Edge then I think they still have a long way to go now. I’ve said before that edge isn’t bad and I stand by that but I find it really confusing that that’s the bar Microsoft has passed.
I mean I’ll expect the company that owns the operating system that Edge runs on and by the way, has really deep pockets and the rich history of building software. To build something that is leaps and bounds better than the company be a browser that for once performs demonstrably better than the competition especially when they have just completely rebuilt their browser from scratch something more than just not bad.
But all right now I want to hear from you what you think about Edge? Are you using it already or if not, can you see it becoming a viable competitor in the future?