This weekend I was doing stuff mostly on my windows desktop machine. Inspired by a colleague that recently did a presentation on how easier is to do software development in Window 10 nowadays, I decided to also use more tools from the Microsoft ecosystem. This post is about start using Microsoft Edge for the first time in years. I work and use on a daily basis systems based on Unix, and in terms of browsers either Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. So, I'm curious as to how the experience with Microsoft Edge will be.
The first thing I noticed I wanted to change was the default screen. It presented this nice images on the background, weather information, which was set in Fahrenheit initially, and when I scroll down on the home page a news panel showed up with lots of news from different areas such as sports, politics, science, etc.
As I like to keep my browser's home page as functional and less cluttered as possible, the first adjustment that wanted to to was to to change the settings to customize the home screen. But how difficult would that be in Microsoft Edge? Surprisingly, it was super easy and intuitive.
On the top-right corner I found a settings button where I could easily customize how the home screen will look like. In my case, I've set the Page Layout to be "Custom" and then for the Background option I set it to display the "Image of the day only".
For the "Content" option, I've set it to "Content off" as I didn't want to have that panel with the news showing up all the time.
The last adjustment was the temperature format, which I'd like to be displayed in Celsius. That as very easy as well to change, I just clicked no the temperature info on the top-left corner, and that led me to the MSN weather portal, where I was able to easily change from Fahrenheit to Celsius. That was, I assume, stored locally in the browser storage as a preference, and when I closed the MSN page and got back to the home page, the weather and temperature was showing was I expected. So far, a good experience.
Next up I wanted to document this experience, so I headed to my blog admin interface and landed the login page. I use a password manager and I was curious as to if an extension would exist for Microsoft Edge as it exists for other browsers I was using. And, surprise again! It does exist for Microsoft Edge ( https://microsoftedge.microsoft.com/addons/detail/lastpass-free-password-m/bbcinlkgjjkejfdpemiealijmmooekmp?source=sfw)
So, I installed it, logged into it, and was able to access my blog admin interface and start writing this blog post! Woo hoo!
I Little Detour
Meanwhile, I was presented with a popup showing one of Microsoft Edge's features called "Collections".
I was curious about this feature as it proposes to solve the problem of collecting, organizing, and share content I find on the internet. That seems to be something really useful to my. I can see myself using that a lot. I'll give it a try and see how it goes. I clicked on the "Try" button and reached the feature's onboarding.
First candy screen was telling me that I can use collections to save content for later. That's good and useful. I do that a lot in many ways (open tabs, favorites, reading lists, etc.).
Second candy screen was about staying organized. It told me that I can keep track of ideas or pick up where I left off. Seems an interesting feature as well.
The third and final candy screen, by the way a good choice in terms of the amount of candy screens for the feature onboarding, was about letting me know that I can use this feature across my devices. It offered my a QR code to be scanned on my phone in order to download Microsoft Edge on mobile app (Android based). I did that as well just to test the full experience.
After that I landed on the Collection's home screen. I was able to create a collection and add a page to it very easily. Nice and intuitive feature. Credits to Microsoft Edge again.
After this little detour, I moved forward.
Privacy and Security
I was very interested on what level of privacy and security configuration was offered by Microsoft Edge. Then I headed to the settings page (edge://settings/profiles).
There under the "Privacy, search, and services" I was able increase the track prevention level from "Balanced", the default, to "Strict", which is supposed to block the majority of trackers from all sites. Exactly what I was looking for. I was also able to set the browser to send "Do not track" requests, preventing websites from tracking me.
And finally, by accessing the Windows diagnostic data setting, I was able to disable sending data about the browser usage or my website visits history to Microsoft. Good option to disable in all browsers anyway!
Other than that, I disabled the search suggestions as well which will send what I'm typing in the search bar to Microsoft/Bing.
After these adjustments I'm satisfied with the level of privacy I'll have while browsing.
The sections were easy to understand and disable as well. Nothing complicated. Credits to Microsoft Edge again.
Deciding Which Search Provider I Want To Use
Last but not least, the final adjustment I wanted to start using Microsoft Edge for the weekend was to change the search provider from Bing to DuckDuckGo. How easy was this task? Well, lets assume you're in the home page. The first thought I had was to go to the settings again. Then I did it. I went again to "Privacy, search, and services" option, and the last option in the list was the one I was looking for. It led me to the search configuration (edge://settings/search).
There I was able to change the "Search engine in the address bar" from Bing to DuckDuckGo, a safer and more private way of searching on the internet. Easy as well.
Now I'm ready to use Microsoft Edge for the rest of the weekend. Let's see how it goes.
Two days later...
So, it's Sunday afternoon, almost two days since I started using Microsoft Edge, and so far everything is going very well.
After testing the "inspector" functionality, something that we developers use a lot, I immediately noticed the similarity with Chrome's inspector, and then I realized I was using a browser based on Chromium. A quick search and here's the announcement: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4501095/download-the-new-microsoft-edge-based-on-chromium
That's maybe the reason why many things in this browser felt familiar.
Well, my conclusion is that Microsoft Edge is now a competitive browser and it doesn't show the limitations of its initial versions a couple of years ago. Also, perhaps its reputation might be not so good due to other Microsoft's browser attempts, however, this one is pretty good. I was able to use for reading, programming, debugging code, inspecting network activity, performance, etc. All worked just fine.
All websites I usually access worked without any issues as well.
To conclude, If I'm asked today if I'd recommend Microsoft Edge as a browser for Windows users, I'd definitely say, YES!
I'll continue using it as my default browser for my Windows machine.
I've not affiliation with Microsoft, Google, Firefox, DuckDuckGo, Bing, or LastPass. The companies and tools mentioned here are either providers for services I personally use or tools/plugins I use on my daily work. This article doesn't contain any affiliate link.