Microsoft Edge vs. Google Chrome: What's The Difference?

Comparing two of the hottest web browsers

The Browser Is One of Your Computer's Most Important Tools

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Google Chrome is the reigning king of browsers, with the highest usage on both desktops and mobile. Microsoft Edge, on the other hand, is arguably available on the most machines, since it comes installed by default on Microsoft Windows. In this Edge vs Chrome breakdown, we'll take a look at the main differences between them.

Chrome vs Edge: They're More Alike Than Different

While we're focused on differences, it's important to note these are both still browsers. As such, they're more alike than they are different, and in many cases, the choice to use one or the other is simply personal taste. For example, you can reasonably expect both Chrome and Edge to:

  • Display your favorite websites and applications
  • Save the locations of those websites/apps as bookmarks
  • Give you the ability to have a variety of websites/apps open at the same time in separate windows and/or tabs
  • Keep track of the places you've visited in a history view
  • Allow you to use an "incognito" mode

The differences between the two browsers is in how they enable all this functionality for you. Let's touch on how each browser implements key aspects of the browsing experience, including their rendering engines, availability of extensions, defaults for features and other services, and compatibility with desktop and mobile platforms.

Google Chrome

Chrome uses an engine called Blink, which it created from a base of an engine developed by Apple called WebKit. This was itself an off-shoot of an open source engine called KHTML, used by Linux's KDE desktop environment for its native browser.

The Lifewire Home Page, and the Code That Makes it Up.

The open source software license of these iterations is what allowed Google to quickly put together its own browser, and is likely part of the reason Chrome has its own open source variant, called Chromium, meaning other organizations can take this framework and use it to create their own browser.

Extensions

Extensions allow users to install add-ons to introduce more features in Chrome. You can easily browse and install them from the Chrome App Store.

Extensions for Chrome Have Their Own Store, the Chrome Web Store.

While Chrome wasn't the first browser to come up with the concept of Extensions, it does have the one of the most extensive libraries, with Google making it very easy for developers to code and submit new extensions to their store.

Default Settings

Some of the settings when you first launch also differ between these two browsers. This isn't as important as some other points since you can typically change these around, but they're still worth noting.

  • Home Page: Naturally, the default home page for Chrome is Google. This means you have quick access not only to Google's search function, but also other services like Gmail if you have a Google account.
  • Default Search Engine: By the same token, when you type keywords into your browser's URL bar Chrome uses Google as its default search engine.
  • Casting: One of the newer features in devices is the ability to "cast," or display the video output of it on another device. Chrome lets you connect to a Chromecast device to display its output.

Compatibility

Chrome is one of the most cross-platform browsers out there. It's available for Microsoft Windows, macOS, and on mobile for Android and iOS. It's even available on Linux

What We Like

  • Most widely-supported browser, especially for consumer services

  • Cross-platform availability

  • Large extension marketplace

  • Open source and extensible

What We Don't Like

  • Can become a memory hog

  • Future of ad-blockers uncertain as Google starts to inhibit them

  • Separate download and installation on all OSes except Android

Microsoft Edge

Edge uses EdgeHTML, which is a continuation of the old Internet Explorer rendering engine.

The Edge Home Page Is a Combination of Microsoft News and Bing Search.

If you've used Internet Explorer, especially older versions like 6 through 8, you may remember it had a reputation for being very finicky when displaying websites. A page that rendered correctly (though slightly differently) in Firefox or Chrome might appear broken in IE 6, and require special workaround code. So, Microsoft created a new engine, EdgeHTML, that got rid of a lot of those legacy problems, and was faster as well. This is the engine the Edge browser currently uses.

Extensions

Edge also supports Extensions, and like Chrome, it has a section in the Microsoft Store where you can search for new ones you may need. Many of the larger applications, like Evernote's Clipper, are also present as Edge Extensions, but you may have trouble finding extensions from smaller developers, or looking at a variety of options for a particular type.

You Can Find Edge Extensions in the Last Tab in the Windows Store.

The selection is smaller here, due in part to Microsoft switching from its traditional Internet Explorer browser to Edge. There was no backwards compatibility during this change, so developers had to re-code their Add-ons all over again. It's taken a while to catch up, and some developers likely abandoned support for Microsoft browsers altogether.

Default Settings

As you'd expect, Microsoft favors its own services for its Edge browser:

  • Home Page: For Edge, when you open a new tab or window, you're shown a page populated with stories from Microsoft News and a search box by Bing.
  • Default Search Engine: Edge will also use Bing when you enter your search into the URL bar.
  • Casting: Microsoft's Edge allows you to cast to any device supporting the DLNA protocol, as well as Miracast. In this respect, it's actually more compatible than Chrome with different types of hardware for sending media or mirroring your screen.

Compatibility

As noted earlier, Edge is installed out of the box on all standard versions of Microsoft Windows. It's also available on macOS, Android, and iOS.

What We Like

  • Installed by default on systems running Windows

  • Improved, faster rendering compared to Internet Explorer

  • Better stability (both as a Windows application and when displaying web apps)

  • Support for more casting devices via the DLNA and Miracast protocols

What We Don't Like

  • Still less compatible than competitors Chrome and Firefox

  • Smaller Extension marketplace

  • The need to update defaults, unless you're one of the people who actually prefers Bing

Chrome vs. Edge Feature Comparison

Microsoft developed Edge to try to stop the mass migration away from Internet Explorer to Google's Chrome. Most consider Edge to be a much better browser than IE, and a viable alternative to Chrome, or at least a very good complement to it.

Google Chrome vs. Microsoft Edge
  Google Chrome Microsoft Edge
Rendering Engine Blink (open source) EdgeHTML (proprietary)
Default Search Engine Google Bing
Default Home Page Google Bing Search box with Microsoft News content
Extension Marketplace Many extensions available at the Chrome Web Store A variety of extensions, though less than Chrome, available through the Microsoft App Store
Casting Protocol Chromecast DLNA, Miracast
Availability Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android Windows, macOS, iOS, Android
Although Chrome is ahead in market share, they compare well on the basis of features and usability

Edge and Chrome Will Become More Alike Going Forward

While the above differences are evident in current versions of Chrome and Edge, some of them will disappear before too long.

Microsoft has decided to throw in the towel on EdgeHTML and other core components of Edge, and will instead create a new version of Edge based on Chromium. That's right, Microsoft is going to build Edge using the foundations of Chrome, meaning key elements like the rendering engine will be identical, much to the delight of web developers.

What is likely to remain different are the connected services. For example, you'll probably still sync your bookmarks with your Microsoft account instead of a Google account, and Bing will very likely be the default search engine. That said, using a common platform will definitely make it easier for developers to create content and applications that are much more consistent across the major browsers.

At the end of the day, there's nothing keeping you from having both, and using whichever works best for a given website. But if you're looking to choose one, go with Chrome if you use lots of web apps, or if you're heavily invested in the Google ecosystem. If that doesn't appeal to you, Microsoft Edge is already installed if you're using Windows. It's a very capable browser if you have concerns about Google's advertising activities.