At its Build Developers Conference 2015, Microsoft announced that the browser for Windows 10 formally nicknamed Project Spartan will be called Microsoft Edge. Microsoft’s Operating Systems Group VP Joe Belfiore made reference at the conference to the name as synonymous for being at the cutting edge of ‘consuming and creating’ as well as developing for the web.
Edge will be available on PCs, laptops, tablets and phones as a Windows Universal App and so should work seamlessly on all screen sizes. Microsoft claims that when Windows 10 launches it will be used on over 1 billion devices, twice as many as iOS or Android, and so it should have all kinks ironed out. Microsoft Edge will come as the standard web browser for Windows 10 when it launches this year, but may not be available to download alone for previous version of Windows.
Microsoft Edge comes with a logo that looks remarkably like the Internet Explorer ‘e’ logo, but with some new extra sharp points added to the curve. While Edge may have been born out of IE originally, Microsoft are keen to prove that this is a new browser and a new experience for users.
Edge was created to do away with Internet Explorer’s old technology and lack of support for new internet standards, meaning Edge supports Adobe Flash and PDF but has no legacy modes or compatibility for older standards built for old version of Internet Explorer. Edge has been dubbed the ‘browser for doing’ and so has in-built tools that aim to make both browsing and working easier. One of the most reported features is Web Note which allows you to annotate a live web page and then send your writing and drawings to colleagues or friends. In addition, you’re able to read articles and pages on a distraction free theme and save items for your reading list to read offline.
The home page now has apps and news which are relevant to the user, and a new way to open a tab makes things easier than ever before. The new home page is set out like a web page and clicking on an interesting area will bring it up easily, whether it’s a website or an app.
Taking influence from Google Chrome, Edge allows you to search using the address bar, where you’ll get search suggestions from the web plus items from your browsing history and favourites. The web extensions portion of Microsoft Edge also works in a similar way to Google Chrome, with extensions being used to add extra functionality to the browser and control the way it handles information and processes. Microsoft Edge can use already created Chrome compatible extensions with relatively little adaptation needed. Transferring extensions such as Pinterest and Reddit was easy to do in Windows Edge and they ran smoothly, announced Microsoft.
Another interesting feature is Cortana, Microsoft’s personal assistant, who lives in the address bar of the browser and can answer questions as well as helping with search. The right hand side of the screen is called the ‘hub’ where you can find your favourites and bookmarks, and Cortana uses this area to do things like help you make reservations, give you directions and answer questions via an ‘Ask Cortana’ prompt.
Some of the features that were demonstrated in January are able to be used in the preview version of Project Spartan, included with the Windows 10 preview that Microsoft is allowing Windows Insiders to download for their PCs and Windows Phones. Windows Insiders are able to test drive the new operating system and report problems or bugs that they find ahead of the official launch. Anyone can sign up to be an Insider but Windows warns users that they should have a spare computer and good working knowledge of PCs as new operating system updates may contain large problems or be unstable.
For those who aren’t Windows Insiders, the wait won’t be too long to try out the new browser. Microsoft is making Windows 10 available for free to anyone currently using Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, and it’s rumoured that the new operating system will launch before September 2015.