Microsoft Edge is the new browser in Windows 10.
Formerly known as Project Spartan, Edge is clean and lean. More importantly, it supports the latest Web standards, unlike Internet Explorer (IE), which added proprietary features because its huge installed base gave it that luxury.
Even Silverlight, Microsoft's Flash alternative, has been ditched for HTML5 in Edge. But for compatibility reasons, IE11 is still available in Windows 10. An option in Edge lets you open a webpage with IE11.
However, Microsoft clearly favours Edge. The browser's icon, which looks like a tweaked version of the IE icon, is prominently placed on the task bar. IE is so well hidden that it did not even make it to the list of installed apps. I had to use Windows Search to look for it.
The Edge's minimalist interface does a good job of disappearing into the background. Sometimes, it can appear too simple.
For instance, when I right-click on a web link, there are just four options: Open in New Tab, Open in New Window, Copy Link and Inspect Element. Missing are options to share or bookmark the link, which are found in other browsers.
Another example: The Share button (three-dot-circle icon at the top right corner) lets you share a webpage. But the first time I tried it, I was able to share the page with only a handful of apps. There was no option to share via Twitter or Facebook. It turns out that you need to install the respective apps from the Windows Store before you can see the option to share with these apps.
Edge currently lacks support for the extensions found on other browsers, such as Adblock. Microsoft has said it is working on it.
Here are three key Edge features to check out:
Microsoft's browser has an edge over its competitors with its ability to create webnotes. This feature, called Inking, lets you annotate a webpage and share it with others.
Using a paintbrush tool, you can draw with your fingers on a touch-capable PC, or by using a mouse. You can leave a comment by typing a note. You can also quickly save a screenshot of the entire webpage, or just a section of it.
While not essential, Inking makes sense as a quick way to create notes, especially on a touch device. However, it seemed quite buggy in my early Windows build and frequently crashed when I tried to use this feature.
Like other browsers, Edge has a Reading mode which removes advertisements and displays a webpage like a page from a book.
You can add specific webpages to a Reading List for later reading. This is separate from Favourites, which you would presumably use for the landing pages of your favourite websites.
New tab page
When you open a new tab on Edge, the page shows a list of popular websites, such as Google, Facebook and Wikipedia. If these websites happen to have a Windows app, a link helpfully tells you to get the app from the Windows Store.
This is great for users, who may prefer a native app, and developers, who enjoy greater exposure for their apps.
Below these websites (Microsoft calls them Top Sites) are news stories from the Windows 10 news app. These articles are taken from numerous sources, including the BBC and The Straits Times.
You can tell the browser which topics (cars, entertainment and others) are more relevant and Edge will push such stories to the top.
In countries where Cortana, Microsoft's personal assistant, is supported, you will find personalised information, including sports and weather and sports updates. However, Cortana is not available in Singapore.
This article was first published on June 29, 2015.
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