What Is Microsoft Edge?

Everything you need to know about the Windows 10 web browser

Figure 1-1: A screen shot showing a man using a laptop sitting on the edge of a pier overlooking a lake.
Figure 1-1: Microsoft Edge can take you places you've never been. Getty Images

Microsoft Edge is the default web browser included with Windows 10. Microsoft highly suggests that Windows 10 users choose the Edge browser over other browsers for Windows, which is likely why it’s prominently displayed on the Taskbar with a large blue E.

Why use Microsoft Edge?

First, it’s built into Windows 10 and is, in essence, part of the operating system itself. Therefore, it communicates and integrates well with Windows, unlike other options like Firefox or Chrome.

Second, Edge is secure and can be updated easily by Microsoft. Thus when a safety issue arises, Microsoft can update the browser right away through Windows Update. Similarly, when new features are created, they can be easily added as well, making sure that Edge is always up-to-date.

Microsoft Edge Notable Features

The Edge Browser offers quite a few unique features not available in previous internet browsers for Windows:

  • You can incorporate Cortana, the Windows 10 virtual assistant, to help you perform searches and get the results you want more quickly.
  • It allows you to make Web Notes, which means you can write on web pages with virtual pens and highlighters and share those notes with others.
  • It lets you cast audio, video, and images directly to some televisions and other devices on your wireless network with just a couple of mouse clicks. 
  • When streaming HD video, you can expect your computer’s battery to last up to 77% longer than Firefox and 35% longer than Chrome.
  • You can preview, group, and save web page tabs to more quickly find sites you’ve been to or want to visit.

Like Internet Explorer and some other web browsers:

  • It offers Reading View, which lets you read articles without ads and other distractions. This makes it easier to print web pages as well.
  • It lets you import favorites from other web browsers to make the switch easier.

Note: Some Edge reviews state that Edge for Windows is “the latest version” of Internet Explorer. That’s not true. Microsoft Edge was built from the ground up, and is completely redesigned just for Windows 10.

Any Reasons to Skip Edge?

There are a few reasons you might not want to switch to Edge:

  • Extension Support
  • Lack of Personalization
  • Familiarity

One has to do with browser extension support. Extensions let you integrate the browser with other programs or websites, and Microsoft’s list of extensions isn’t very long when compared to more established web browsers. If you find that you can’t do something while using Edge that you could in a previous web browser, you will have to switch to the other browser to complete that task, at least until Microsoft makes the applicable extensions available to you. Note that the reason for this is that Microsoft wants to keep you and your computer safe, so don’t expect them to offer any extensions it has decided are a risk to the browser or to you.

Another reason to move away from Edge has to do with the number of ways you can personalize the Edge interface.

It’s sleek and minimal, for sure, but for some, this lack of customization is a deal-breaker.

Edge is also missing the familiar Address Bar. That’s the bar that runs across the top of the other web browsers, and might be where you choose to type a search for something. It’s also where you type the URL of a web page. With Edge, when you click in the area that serves as the address bar, a search box opens midway down the page where you are required to type. It takes some getting used it, for sure.