Microsoft Edge vs. Google Chrome

A look at two of the hottest web browsers

Google Chrome is the reigning king of browsers, with the highest usage on computers and mobile devices alike. Microsoft Edge is available on most machines because it's installed by default on Windows-based devices. We examined the main differences between these browsers to help you decide which you should use.

Chrome vs. Edge

Overall Findings

Microsoft Edge
  • By default, installed on all Windows-based devices.

  • Improved, faster rendering than Internet Explorer.

  • More stable both as a Windows application and when displaying web apps.

  • Supports more casting devices through the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) and Miracast protocols.

  • Can run extensions from the Microsoft Store and Chrome Web Store.

  • Built-in tracking prevention and potentially unwanted program blocker.

Google Chrome
  • Open source and extensible.

  • Has a large extension library.

  • The most widely supported browser available, especially for consumer devices.

  • Cross-platform availability.

  • A bit of a memory hog.

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

  • Separate download and installation on all operating systems but Android.

This article focuses on differences, but Microsoft Edge and Chrome are web browsers and are more alike than different. In many cases, the choice to use one or the other is personal taste. For example, you can reasonably expect both Chrome and Microsoft Edge to:

  • Display your favorite websites and applications.
  • Save the locations of those websites and apps as bookmarks.
  • Open multiple websites or apps at the same time in separate windows or tabs.
  • Keep track of the places you visit in a history view.
  • Enable you to use an incognito mode.

The differences between the two browsers are in how each enables such functionality. Here's how each browser implements key aspects of the browsing experience, including rendering engines, availability of extensions, defaults for features and other services, and compatibility with desktop and mobile platforms.

Rendering and Search: Dealer's Choice

Microsoft Edge
  • A Chromium-based browser that uses the Blink rendering engine.

  • The default search engine is Bing.

Google Chrome
  • Built on the open source Blink rendering engine.

  • The default search engine is Google.

Chrome uses an engine called Blink, which is created from a base engine that Apple developed called WebKit. WebKit was an offshoot of an open source engine called KHTML, which the Linux K Desktop Environment uses as its default browser.

The open source software license of these iterations enabled Google to put its browser together quickly, which is partly why Chrome has an open source variant called Chromium. Other organizations can use this framework to create their own browsers.

Microsoft Edge had used the EdgeHTML rendering engine, which was a continuation of the Internet Explorer rending engine. Internet Explorer, especially versions 6 through 8, was finicky when displaying websites. A page that rendered correctly (though slightly different) in Mozilla Firefox or Chrome could appear broken in Internet Explorer 6 and required a special workaround code. Similar problems occurred in EdgeHTML, although that engine got rid of many legacy problems and was faster. In 2019, Microsoft rebuilt Microsoft Edge on the Chromium open source project using the Blink and V8 rendering engines.

Extensions: Chrome May Have More to Offer

Microsoft Edge
  • Offers extensions in the Microsoft Store but tends to prioritize larger developers, making extensions from smaller developers hard to find.

  • Can install extensions from the Chrome Web Store.

  • Lack of backward compatibility with Internet Explorer limits the number of extensions available.

Google Chrome
  • Has an extensive browser library.

  • Browse and install extensions from the Chrome Web Store.

Extensions in Chrome enable users to install add-ons that introduce more features. You can easily browse and install these add-ons from the Chrome Web Store. Chrome wasn't the first browser to come up with the concept of extensions. However, it has one of the most extensive libraries. Google makes it easy for developers to code and submit new extensions to its store.

Microsoft Edge also supports extensions and has a section in the Microsoft Store where you can search for extensions. Many of the larger applications, like Evernote Clipper, are present as Microsoft Edge extensions. However, it can be difficult to find extensions from smaller developers or more than one option for a particular extension type. Because Microsoft Edge is now built on Chromium, it supports extensions from the Chrome Web Store (although you'll see a pop-up encouraging you to switch to Chrome).

Default Settings: Depends on Which Environment You Prefer

Microsoft Edge
  • The default home page is a Bing search box with content from Microsoft News.

  • The default search engine is Bing.

  • Displays video output on any device that supports Miracast or the DLNA protocol.

Google Chrome
  • The default home page is Google.com.

  • The default search engine is Google.

  • Displays video output on a Chromecast device.

The default settings of the two browsers differ, but you can change these settings. Chrome uses the following default settings:

  • Home Page: The default home page for Chrome is Google. When you launch Chrome, you have quick access to Google search functions and services like Gmail (if you have a Google account).
  • Default Search Engine: When you type keywords into the browser address bar, Chrome uses Google as the default search engine.
  • Casting: Newer devices feature the ability to cast or display video output on another device. Chrome connects to a Chromecast device to display its output.

Microsoft favors its services for the Microsoft Edge browser:

  • Home Page: When you open a new tab or window, you see a page with stories from Microsoft News and a search box powered by Bing.
  • Default Search Engine: When you enter search terms into the address bar, Microsoft Edge uses the Bing search engine.
  • Casting: Microsoft Edge casts to any device that supports the DLNA protocol or Miracast. These protocols are compatible with a wider range of hardware than Chrome is for sending media or mirroring a screen.

Compatibility: Available for Most Operating Systems

Microsoft Edge
  • Installed by default on Windows devices.

  • Available for macOS, iOS, iPadOS, and Android, with support for Linux coming in 2020.

Google Chrome
  • Installed by default on Chromebook and Android devices.

  • Runs on Windows, Linux, macOS, iPadOS, and iOS.

Chrome is one of the most cross-platform browsers out there. It's available for Windows, macOS, and as a mobile browser on Android, iOS, and iPadOS devices. It's also available on Linux.

Microsoft Edge is installed on all standard versions of Windows. It's also available for macOS, iOS, iPadOS, and Android.

Microsoft announced during its Ignite 2019 conference that a version of Microsoft Edge for Linux will be available in 2020.

Final Verdict: Microsoft Edge and Chrome Are Becoming More Alike Every Day

Many of the differences discussed here are evident in the current versions of Chrome and Microsoft Edge. However, some will disappear before long.

Despite the similarities between these browsers, what's likely to remain different are the connected services. For example, you can sync bookmarks with your Microsoft account instead of a Google account in Microsoft Edge, and Bing will remain its default search engine. But, a common platform makes it easier for developers to create content and apps that are consistent across the major browsers.

You don't have to choose. You can have both browsers and use whichever works better for a given website. But, if you want to choose one, go with Chrome if you use several web apps or if you're heavily invested in the Google ecosystem. If that doesn't appeal to you and you use a Windows PC, Microsoft Edge is installed on the device. It's a capable browser if you have concerns about Google's advertising activities.