Windows 10’s Massive Update Brings Welcome Changes to Microsoft Edge
It’s no secret that when Microsoft Edge launched with Windows 10 on July 29th, 2015, it was a mixed bag of sentiments. On the one hand, it was fast in a way Internet Explorer hadn’t been for years. Stripping the elder browser of legacy code, Edge was a chance to start over, and it did–maybe too much. Whereas Internet Explorer had advanced features like tab syncing between Windows Phone 8 devices and Windows 8 PC’s, Edge didn’t. IE could use plugins, Edge couldn’t. Even with baked-in support for a version of Adobe’s Flash, Edge was just lacking in way too many areas. Its speed and improved HTML5 features were nice, at least. A year later, we finally get some worthy Microsoft Edge upgrades in Windows 10 Anniversary Update. Still waiting on that tab sync feature’s return, though.
Biggest Microsoft Edge Upgrades in Windows 10 Anniversary Update
Without a doubt, the headline feature here is that Microsoft Edge finally has native support for extensions. Originally rumored for the launch of Windows 10 a year ago, they’re finally here. You can find them fairly easily in the Windows Store just by scrolling down in the Apps section. You can also find them from Edge itself. Simply click the “…” menu and choose Extensions. From there you’ll see a link directly to the proper section of the store.
What Extensions are Available for Microsoft Edge?
Right now the selection is a little sparse, but they’ve launched with a solid lineup of fan favorites that should make most users happy. With a framework that’s generally compatible with extensions built for Google Chrome, we’ll no doubt see rapid growth.
As of July 21st, 2016, here’s what you can find:
- Adblock Plus
- Amazon Assistant
- Evernote Web Clipper
- Lastpass Password Manager
- Mouse Gestures
- Office Online
- OneNote Web Clipper
- Page Analyzer
- Pinterest Pin It Button
- Reddit Enhancement Suite
- Save to Pocket
- Microsoft Translator For Edge
Standards Support Improves with Microsoft Edge in Windows 10 Anniversary Update
Browser upgrades these days need more than just cool goodies to plug in third party services, though. They also need better modern standards support, and Microsoft Edge really ups its game with the Windows 10 Anniversary Update.
First the biggie: Microsoft Edge now supports notifications, like Google Chrome and Opera. If a website has these implemented, they’ll even show up in the Action Center as actionable items. Don’t worry, you can turn them off on a per-site basis if you accidentally opt in to too many.
A quick trip to the official HTML5 Test website tells an interesting story. Edge version 14, which is the version shipping in the Anniversary update, scores a healthy 460 out of 555 possible points on the HTML5 compatibility index.
The only browsers to score higher are Google Chrome and Opera 38, which are, of course, both based on Chromium open source. Those browsers score 492–a scant 32 points ahead of Microsoft Edge. Surprisingly, Microsoft’s new browser, ahem, edges out Firefox 47, which scores a 456.
Worth a note: Edge on Windows 10 Mobile only hits 444. Still respectable, but I’m not sure why it’s lower than its desktop/laptop/tablet counterpart. A Microsoft blog post from April sheds more light on Edge’s ongoing standards support evolution, if you’re interested.
Power Efficiency Improvements for Better Battery Life
If there’s a major complaint levied against Google Chrome and Internet Explorer 11, it’s that they could be battery hogs. Edge has been good on battery from day one, but it gets even better with the Windows 10 Anniversary Update.
New Settings in Microsoft Edge 14 for Windows 10
Unsurprisingly, there are plenty of new settings to explore in the latest Edge. Screenshots will appear under the list, because formatting.
- Extensions: allows you to add, enable, disable and modify settings on a per-extension basis.
- What’s New and Tips: Opens a page that shows you exactly what it promises to.
- New: option to show only icons on the favorites bar, hiding labels.
- New option to Create Folder on the favorites bar via right click.
- Easily manage favorites with a Tree View in the favorites menu.
- In “Clear Browsing Data” settings, you can now use tick boxes to choose which precise items to clear and set a flag for “Always clear when I close the browser” if you want to be sure you’re not leaving traces each session.
- The Basic settings page now shows which Microsoft Account you’re signed into the browser with, and lets you sign out and sign in with a different account if you prefer.
- Device Sync Settings can now be customized more to your liking.
- Advanced Settings has a new drop down menu under the “Show Home Button”, which lets you change the button’s behavior. You can now have it launch a specific page, a new tab, or the Start Page.
- Now you can change the default download location.
- Notifications section under Advanced Settings, where you can turn off web notifications on a per-website basis.
Microsoft Edge Usability Improvements in Anniversary Update
What, you thought there was enough stuff already? Oh, no, my friend. There are even more, and most are about usability.
- Swipe Navigation Gestures: On touchscreen devices and tablets, swiping back and forth navigates between pages. Works on PC, tablet and phone.
Better Copy/Paste: When pasting a URL from the clipboard to the address bar, you can no right click and choose “Paste and go”, removing the step of pressing enter after pasting.
- On 10 Mobile, typing into an edit box now lets you use the paste buttom above the keyboard. Selecting text will trigger the copy button to appear immediately. The old version had a delay.
- Drag and drop folders: Now Edge supports dragging whole folders of files and other folders for upload into OneDrive, Google Drive or Dropbox.
- Favorites Import improvements: Favorites from other browsers will import into their own, labeled folder, rather than merge with existing favorites.
- Download reminders: In-progress downloads will remind you before you can close the browser so the download can finish before the browser process ends.
- Pin Tabs: Finally Edge gets the ability to pin any tab within the browser, ensuring it persists from session to session.
- 10 Mobile: Tab center improvements. Edge now has a button for creating an InPrivate tab with just a tap.
- Improved tab behavior on mobile: when you tap a link in an app, Edge will open a new tab instead of overwriting existing tabs. When you hit Back to go back to the app, it’ll close that tab and leave your other tabs alone.
- Apps for Websites: Desktop and mobile Edge can launch the app for some websites instead of loading the webpage. Might be useful for Facebook or Twitter. To disable this, go to Settings>System>Apps for websites and disable the apps you’d rather open as websites.
- Windows Hello for Websites: Biometric authentication support for signing into websites securely and quickly without typing a password. Supports fingerprint readers and retina scanners.
- No “Inspect Element” or “View Source” by default. You can turn this on in the About:flags section, however.
Developer Settings with About:Flags in Edge 14
For the nerd in you, I went ahead and found all the neat little goodies in Edge’s developer settings menu. Some are new, some are tweaked, but here’s what you’ll find if you type about:flags in the address bar and hit enter. As above, so below: screenshots are in a gallery at the bottom.
Allow Adobe Flash Player Localhost Loopback (could put your PC at risk)
Enable extension developer features.
Allow unrestricted memory consumption for web pages (could impact device performance negatively).
– Use Windows.UI.Composition
– Compose Scrollbar Thumbs independently
– Decode images with their rendering size.
– Enable @-ms-viewpoint rules
– Enable experimental select control
– Enable responsive scrollbar scrolling
Mouse Event for Touch
– Disable pointer event interface
– Only execute timers once per second in non visible tabs to improve battery life
– Use legacy set interval behavior
Media Source Extensions (New)
– Enable Opus Audio format
– Enable VP9 video format
– Enable experimental H.264/avc support
Fetch API (new)
Web Payments (new)
– Enable experimental web payment API
– Enable TCP Fast Open
Full Screen (new)
– Enable standard full screen API
And that’s the big story of the Microsoft Edge Upgrades in Windows 10 Anniversary Update. Whether you’re looking for user facing features, developer features, or something else, odds are good this release has something for you. What started out fairly rocky a year ago has slowly transformed into a top shelf browser that’s worth giving a second look!
Do you have any questions about Microsoft Edge 14 that you’d like to see answered in a blog post or video? Drop us a line and let us know!