Microsoft has declared 30th March 2015 as the birth of a new generation of browsers. For 20 years since the introduction of Windows 95B in 1995, there was only one way to access the World Wide Web on Microsoft—Internet Explorer. As a fixed component of Windows 95B and all of its successor Windows versions, Internet Explorer caused problems right from the start. Microsoft didn’t just supply the browser as standard with every installation, but also made it virtually impossible to deinstall it. This met with some resistance, leading, at least in following years, to a relaxing of the uninstallation lock as well as an even stronger tie between browser and operating system. Deinstallation of Internet Explorer made using web services on a Windows computer virtually impossible. Version after version followed until 2015. Over the years, Explorer’s code was developed more and more, inevitably leading to Microsoft’s flagship browser boasting an astronomic market share, but also more sluggish. Something new and contemporary was the answer. Project Spartan was announced, and with it a new solution.
As the first versions were released at the end of March 2015, one thing was clear—Microsoft Edge was to be the Window’s browser of the future. Unfortunately, Microsoft could never bring itself to fully separate its operating system from Internet Explorer—which did Edge no favours. The slow and no longer really contemporary browser was joined on Windows 10 by a contender that at first glance seemed quicker and more agile, and had its own development foundation, EdgeHTML Engine. Unfortunately, the version published with Windows 10 was the opposite of functional and finished. Competitors like Apple’s Safari and Mozilla Firefox worked far more smoothly than Microsoft’s new standard browser. This led to the installed-as-standard Edge being used only once—to download other, externals browsers. Its huge market share thanks to preinstallation couldn’t change the fact that only 4% of all desktop operating system users were opening the browser. Microsoft’s hopes were dashed, but wanted to push Edge into a new age of surfing, for companies, too.
On 6 December 2018, it was announced that the new Edge would be slowly put on the back burner. The internet pulsed with rumours that Microsoft was already working on developing a new browser. It quickly became clear that Microsoft were going to change tack for Windows 10’s new go-to browser and rely on Google’s Chromium Engine. Not a bad move. Over the years, Google had built a Chrome empire that ruled over 70 per cent of all end users and Microsoft didn’t want to reinvent the wheel for this reason. The first version of the new Edge was released in April 2019 for insiders, and what can I say! Compared to what I was expecting, the new browser not only worked quite well, but was also fast, matched the design of the operating system, and stayed streamlined and highly compatible with other solutions. And regular updates since then have ensured that it keeps getting better. Google’s Chromium Engine was good for the new Edge, and it worked with the big wide world of Office and Azure portals from Microsoft, plus it features single sign-on and synchronises both favourites from private accounts and Office365 work and school accounts. The first ADMX templates for business customers to control the browser with group policies saw the light of day.
Personally, I have been using Edge since the day it was released. Previously, I had needed virtually every browser under the sun on my end device as an IT admin and consultant in order to use each portal and login with the browser that best supported it. Edge Chromium meant I could uninstall three browsers: Firefox, Chrome and Opera. With its templates for managing browsers in an enterprise environment, it is now very likely that a Microsoft browser could once again finally take the top spot in user popularity—contrary to all expectations. And development is by no means complete. In addition to an IE mode for showing older pages designed for Internet Explorer, there is also direct access to Office 365 and OneDrive (once you’ve logged into your account, access is via the Google for Chrome extension store). All in all, there is one take away here. Everyone, no matter how they felt about Internet Explorer or the “old” Edge browser, should at least give the new, younger, and quicker Edge a chance. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.