First look: Microsoft Edge

At Build, it was revealed that the new Web browser in Windows 10 will be called Microsoft Edge.

Its all-new rendering engine is touted to make it faster than its rivals Chrome and Firefox. Internet Explorer 11 will still be available in Windows 10 for compatibility purposes, but Edge will be the default browser.

As its former code name Project Spartan suggests, Edge is a lean and clean browser. It has a flat, minimalist design, with Back and Forward buttons that look like they have been drawn with a black marker. The app has a fairly short list of settings.

However, it does have features to match the latest browsers. For instance, it has a Reading mode like Apple's Safari browser, which strips the advertisements from a Web page and formats it to look more like a magazine or newspaper article.

A more original feature is the ability to annotate Web pages, adding comments or highlighting items with your fingers, stylus, mouse or keyboard. The annotated Web pages can be saved and shared with others.

During a keynote presentation, Microsoft's Joe Belfiore showed off what happens when you open a new Tab.

Instead of a blank page, you will get personalised information from the Cortana personal assistant, such as weather and sports news updates. There are also thumbnails of your frequently visited Web sites.

Unfortunately, this feature was not ready when I tried the browser (Windows 10 Build 10074) at the conference. The Cortana-powered features will not work in places where Cortana is unavailable, such as Singapore.

Mr Belfiore also revealed that Edge will support popular browser extensions such as the ones found on Chrome and Firefox.

Developers will be able to port their existing extensions to Edge with minimal changes. The Edge browser is likely to get further tweaking before it goes live when Windows 10 is expected to be launched in mid-August.

This article was first published on May 6, 2015.
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