Test Driving Microsoft Edge

Apr 28, 2021

For the past two weeks or so, I've been using Microsoft Edge as my daily driver in the web browsing world. One of the primary motivators for my doing this was Edge's capability to stop auto-playing media, which I find highly annoying. Unfortunately, the advertised feature didn't work for me; at least not on the sites that bug me most (my preferred local news station's website being chief among them). That said, there were a few things I liked and disliked about my experience (note that I have since moved back to Chrome).

What I Liked

  • Migrating data from Chrome took one click, and everything came over: bookmarks, extensions, etc. This was a nice surprise and made transitioning seamless.
  • Since Edge is Chromium-powered, the same set of web developer tools were available. That made my debugging life easier.
  • Edge is very fast, and apparently a lot less resource intensive than Chrome. I'm not sure I perceived any differences, but I was happy to see that things were very snappy.
  • The "picture of the day" on the new tab page was a neat feature. There were some really beautiful photos featured while I used it.

What I Disliked

  • I absolutely hate the way Edge does browser history. When you open your history, a fixed-height dropdown panel appears in the toolbar, which you then must scroll through. Entries pop into view as you scroll, and this part is surprisingly slow. There's apparently no support for opening history in a sidebar by default (though you can pin the view to a sidebar once the popup appears).
  • Auto-play blocking doesn't work. This is the primary feature I was after, but it didn't work for me. It also stinks that it's all or nothing, and not configurable (like I believe Firefox supports).
  • As you might expect, there are a bunch of links to Microsoft content (Office 365, Bing, etc.) all over the place. They're really trying to push their products, and it shows.
  • Bing search is a disappointment. I gave it an honest try, but more often than not I had to scroll way down in the search results to find a result of use. This seemed particularly problematic with technical searches. Google just seems to surface technical content better than Bing. Perhaps that's a function of the overall user base?

As I said previously, I've since switched back to Chrome, as Edge didn't feel different (or better) enough to get me to stay. I'm debating giving Firefox another try, but I've been really frustrated with how Mozilla has hobbled their browser over time with stupid decisions. Are there other browsers I'm missing out on that you like? A former colleague of mine used the Brave browser, which I haven't yet tried. I'm open to trying alternatives, so let me know if there's one I've overlooked.



1:47 PM on Apr 28, 2021

I've been using Brave for a few years on my personal laptop (I still use Chrome at work). I think I first tried it after some video game walkthrough I was trying to use had so many ads that it literally crashed Chrome twice in a row. It's also Chromium based so there are no rendering issues that I've seen. Occasionally I'll hit a news site that considers it an ad-blocker and tells me I have to subscribe or disable my ad blocker to continue to read the article (I usually just leave...). I don't know if it has any ability to block auto-playing of media. It does at least block most ads, some of which auto-play things.

I also use Brave on my iPhone because it has an option to always run in private mode--I rarely log into anything on a mobile browser so I don't want cookies. And the mobile app is based on Chromium as well so I haven't encountered any rendering issues.


6:28 PM on Apr 30, 2021

Thanks for the insight, Kip. I'll have to give it a try one of these days.

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