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Last year was a fundamentally transformative year for Microsoft. It saw the launch of Windows 10 Windows 10 Release Day: Everything You Need to Know Windows 10 Release Day: Everything You Need to Know The final version of Windows will be released on July 29th, but a lot of things remain nebulous. We have compiled the answers to the most frequently asked questions around Windows 10 and its release. Read More , which is now installed on well over 110 million computers, and is regarded by many to be the best Windows ever.

Less talked about is the launch of Edge, which replaced Internet Explorer around the same time, and now occupies around 3% of the browser market. Although it’s got its share of fans 10 Reasons You Should Be Using Microsoft Edge Now 10 Reasons You Should Be Using Microsoft Edge Now Microsoft Edge marks a complete break from the Internet Explorer brand name, killing off a 20-year-old family tree in the process. Here's why you should be using it. Read More , adoption has been slow, perhaps due to it being the ancestor of one of the most maligned web browsers of all time.

Putting prejudice aside, is Edge any good? I decided to pit it against my personal favorite web browser, Firefox, to see how it compares. Here’s what I found.

Rendering Pages

The essential job of a web browser is to transform HTML, CSS, and JavaScript into web pages How Do Browsers Display Web Pages, and Why Don't They Ever Look the Same? How Do Browsers Display Web Pages, and Why Don't They Ever Look the Same? Read More .

EdgeMakeUseOf

Around the early 2000’s, browsers used to be horribly inconsistent when it came to this. You could open a page in Firefox, and find it would only work properly in Internet Explorer, or vice versa. Thankfully, we’ve long since moved past that.

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I actually don’t remember the last time I went on a webpage that didn’t render correctly in a browser. Although, perhaps that says more about the aptitude of today’s web developers than it does about the browsers people use.

There are simple tests you can do to see how good your browser is at rendering things. One of the most useful is the Acid Test, which throws some complicated CSS at your browser, and gives it a score from one to a hundred, depending on how faithfully it rendered it.

As you’ll see, Microsoft Edge got a perfect score.

EdgeAcidTest

For reference, so did Google Chrome version 48.

AcidChrome

But Firefox wasn’t that far away, scoring an similarly-impressive 99/100.

AcidTest

But our tests don’t just end there. One of the most important things for a browser to be able to do is to deal with HTML5, and the new APIs (application programming interfaces) What Are APIs, And How Are Open APIs Changing The Internet What Are APIs, And How Are Open APIs Changing The Internet Have you ever wondered how programs on your computer and the websites you visit "talk" to each other? Read More that make it possible for sites to add native-level functionality and performance.

Given that more and more tasks are being handed to the browser, this is essential. So, I ran each browser through the HTML5 Test. This runs automated tests against the browser, in order to see how much of the HTML5 specification it supports.

Edge got a pretty decent score, pulling 458 out of 555 potential points.

EdgeHTML5Test

But they weren’t far away from Firefox, who got an impressive score of 478.

FirefoxHTML5Test

For context, the latest version of Chrome scores 521 points.

HTML5Chrome

Historically, Microsoft’s browsers (including Edge) have lacked support for a number of important HTML5 APIs. The biggest was WebRTC WebRTC Explained: What Is This API, and How Is It Changing the Internet? WebRTC Explained: What Is This API, and How Is It Changing the Internet? WebRTC allows developers to build real-time applications, such as MMORPG games and video-conferencing tools, using open web technologies, like HTML5, JavaScript and CSS. Read More , which is used for real-time communications and video conferencing applications.

Although the HTML5 test said that Edge lacked WebRTC support, I decided to test it anyway, and fired up Appear.in, which we previously reviewed Move Over Google Plus Hangouts. Appear.in Is Here & It's Really Good Move Over Google Plus Hangouts. Appear.in Is Here & It's Really Good People have been crying out for a decent video conferencing app for ages. We thought that was Google Plus. We were wrong. Meet Appear.in. Read More .

EdgeAppearIn2

To my surprise, it worked just fine. I really wasn’t expecting that, since Microsoft have been dragging their feet when it comes to WebRTC support for years, to the extent that people have had to add support for it via third-party plugins Here's How to Make Internet Explorer and Safari Work with WebRTC Here's How to Make Internet Explorer and Safari Work with WebRTC Would you like to hear a secret? It's a big one. Are you sure you can handle it? Okay, here goes. There are other web browsers besides Google Chrome. Read More .

All things considered, Edge performed just as well as Firefox, in terms of getting stuff done. Webpages loaded fine, and there wasn’t really anything I couldn’t do in Edge that I could in Firefox.

Added Extras

Browsers have gotten really good in recent years, to the point where you can’t easily differentiate them on how well they display web pages. For them to separate themselves from the pack, they’ve had to add other, non-core features. Firefox and Edge are no exceptions, and they both come with some unusual additions.

My favorite is called Reading Mode, and is found in Microsoft Edge. This transforms webpages into Kindle-like experiences that are svelte, and distraction free.

EdgeReadingMode

Microsoft Edge also lets you “draw” on web pages, although I’ve not really found any particular use-case for this.

But Firefox is the king of the added extra. By default, it ships with the ability to share webpages to Pocket Pocket - The Ultimate Digital Bookmarking Service Pocket - The Ultimate Digital Bookmarking Service As Bakari previously reported, the well loved Read It Later - which enabled users to save articles to read later from a bookmarklet or various apps it was integrated with - was discontinued and replaced... Read More with the mere press of a button. This feature was controversial, and inspired a backlash from die-hard Firefox users.

FireFoxSaveToPocket

For what it’s worth, it was really easy to disable Pocket in Firefox How to Disable Pocket Integration and Other Features in the New Firefox How to Disable Pocket Integration and Other Features in the New Firefox An icon-driven menu, a video chat feature, an apps marketplace - Let's see what some of these new features allow you to do, and how you can disable them if you want to. Read More , if the user so desired.

There’s also Firefox Hello Meet Firefox Hello Video Chat & Firefox Marketplace In The New Firefox 35 Meet Firefox Hello Video Chat & Firefox Marketplace In The New Firefox 35 Firefox 35 introduces a cross-platform video chat service called Firefox Hello, lets users beta-test the new Firefox Marketplace, and also bakes in social sharing on the web. Read More , which allows you to video-call someone, just by sharing a link with them. This was introduced in Firefox 35, and was reviewed by our very own Mihir Patkar.

FireFoxHello

Perhaps my biggest complaint with Firefox’s added extras is the haphazard way in which they’re included. There’s no reason or rhyme to them. They don’t make it easier, or more enjoyable to browse the internet, unlike Reading Mode, which does.

Extensions and Add-Ons

If Firefox has a reputation, it’s one of being endlessly customizable. Since the very earliest versions, it’s been possible to change how Firefox looks and works with other people’s code. These are called “add-ons”.

There are hundreds of thousands of these add-ons Most Popular Firefox Add-ons and Posts of 2015 Most Popular Firefox Add-ons and Posts of 2015 Which new browser features were added? Which MakeUseOf posts for Firefox stood out? Which helpful add-ons were recommended? Here is a wrap-up of these noteworthy items as we say good-bye to another year. Read More . Some are trivial. Some aren’t, and have been downloaded millions of times, such as VideoDownloadHelper, NoScript and Firebug.

FireFoxAddOns

There are also over 300,000 Firefox themes available to download These Add-Ons Let You Make Firefox Look However You Want These Add-Ons Let You Make Firefox Look However You Want Make Firefox look however you like. Whether you want something to create space, a dash of colour, or to bring back the old Firefox look, there's a theme or extension out there for you. Read More , which range from nature-inspired designs, to others inspired by anime and sci-fi films.

Microsoft’s Edge is the complete polar opposite to Firefox in this regard. Months after its official launch, it still doesn’t support any third-party extensions or themes. When you search Bing for the term “Microsoft Edge Extensions”, it brings up a notice from Microsoft letting you know they’re yet not available.

EdgeExtensions

While this might be a barrier to Edge’s future success, I don’t mind. Extensions can introduce security risks, and reduce browser performance. I’d rather wait for Microsoft to get them right, rather than have something that’s rushed-through and half-baked.

Touchscreen-Friendliness

If you’ve paid attention to Microsoft’s strategy over the past few years, you’ll know they’re really emphasizing touch-screen devices. It’s for this reason why Windows 10 is designed to work across tablets, mobile, and desktop, and why it works great on anything ranging from tiny tablets How Well Does Windows 10 Work on a Tiny Tablet? How Well Does Windows 10 Work on a Tiny Tablet? Windows 10 is taking the devices of disgruntled Windows 8 and curious Windows 7 users by storm. The PC experience is great, but how does it perform on small screens? Matthew tested Windows 10 on... Read More , to larger two-in-one laptops 5 Reasons to Buy a 2-in-1 Windows 10 Laptop 5 Reasons to Buy a 2-in-1 Windows 10 Laptop 2-in-1 laptops are incredibly versatile. Running Windows 10 they are powerful enough to do office work. They also convert into a tablet, complete with touchscreen, making everything easier. Let us tell you more! Read More .

Edge’s design hints at this design ethos, and is adequately suited to touch environments. Its buttons are chunky and well-spaced, making them eminently touchable, even with the widest fingers.

EdgeChunkyButtons

But how does Firefox compare? Well, it’s mixed. Many of its menus and dialogs are kept in a perfectly-pressable window.

FireFoxDevToolsChunky

Although, when you start delving into menus and sub-menus, this veneer fades away, and it begins to look like any other Windows application.

FirefoxDevToolsNotChunky

This disappointed me. Especially when you consider that over the past five years, Mozilla has gained a lot of experience in creating touch-oriented experiences, with Firefox for Android and iOS, as well as the recently-deceased Firefox OS.

Developer Tools

Finally, I want to just touch on developer tools. While they aren’t used by many consumers, they are by developers and designers to tweak, build, and debug websites.

Firefox has always had a pretty impressive suite of developer tools, and the latest version is no exception.

FireFoxDevTools

There’s also a coder-oriented version of Firefox called “Firefox Developer Edition” What To Expect From Firefox Developer Edition What To Expect From Firefox Developer Edition Eager to cement their reputation with developers even further, Mozilla have launched Firefox Developer Edition; a cutting-edge spin on the popular browser loaded with features designed to make web development even easier. Read More . This runs the most bleeding-edge version of the Gecko rendering agent, and a more complete collection of developer tools.

Edge doesn’t quite come close to the power of Firefox in this regard, but it makes a meaningful attempt to include something, and packs all you need to tweak CSS and HTML, and to debug JavaScript, but not much else.

EdgeDevToolsClose

It’s for this reason that I can’t imagine many developers will be leaping on Edge as their primary browser any time soon.

The End Result

So, in short, how does Edge compare to Firefox? Well, pretty favorably. I say this as a die-hard lover of Firefox.

It handles the core job of a browser competently, across all platforms. Indeed, the features which are unique to Edge, like Reading Mode, are designed to emphasize this.

It falls down when it comes to customizability. But given that extensions are just on the horizon for Edge, it won’t be long until Mozilla start feeling hot under the collar.

Personally speaking, I don’t use very many browser extensions, so this didn’t really detract from my experience with it. That said, someone who does depend on extensions as part of their day-to-day workflows will be underwhelmed by Edge.

Although, it’s worth pointing out that my colleague Dan Price took a look at Edge from another view, and this die-hard Chrome fan was disappointed with Edge A Microsoft Edge Review From A Die-Hard Chrome User A Microsoft Edge Review From A Die-Hard Chrome User Make no mistake, I am a die-hard Chrome user. But my curiosity got the better of me, so I took the plunge and tried Microsoft Edge. Read More . If you’re looking for another perspective, you should read his review.

Will you give Edge a try? Have you already switched? Tell me about it in the comments below.

  1. P3rf3ct_Zer0
    September 1, 2016 at 3:30 am

    Hmmm still like firefox because it still remains the most secure.

  2. Paul
    March 5, 2016 at 8:42 pm

    The beta3 version of Vivaldi Browser scores 521 out of 555 on the HTML5test.This will be the browser to beat.

  3. Perry Bruns
    March 3, 2016 at 3:49 pm

    Edge is the DESCENDANT of Internet Explorer. IE is the ancestor.

  4. fcd76218
    March 2, 2016 at 8:56 pm

    One big minus for Edge is that it runs on only one platform while FF runs on many.

  5. Howard Blair
    March 2, 2016 at 2:30 pm

    Praise for an incomplete browser on an incomplete OS? I'll stick with Firefox, or, when the XUL addons are finally removed, Pale Moon or Waterfox.

  6. campbell2644
    March 1, 2016 at 5:19 pm

    Firefox for me

  7. Alan Trinder
    March 1, 2016 at 7:15 am

    There are times when I have to use Edge, or something as Chrome is incompatible with the website I am using which still happens with amazing frequency. Do over to it full time? Not without extensions.

  8. Joseph J. Pollock
    March 1, 2016 at 6:25 am

    I hate Firefox every day! I use it on Linux where Edge isn't available (yet?). The problem is that their philosophy seems to be, "If it ain't broke, fix it until it is!" I stay with it because I use a 15 or 20 extensions, my favorite/deal breaker of which is Flashgot. Of course, several of these are to put things back to the way they were before Mozilla messed them up!

    I am starting to play with Edge on a notebook that came with Win 10 pre-installed. One feature that I saw in a demo, but haven't tried tried to use yet was one that removed all the "stuff" from a website and just left the content. That sounds really great - if it works as advertized (not something M$ has been particularly good at living up to.)

    • Howard Blair
      March 2, 2016 at 2:28 pm

      Firefox has a "reader" mode as well - if it's available for a page, it will show up as an "open book" icon to the left of the "bookmark" star.

  9. David Hensher
    March 1, 2016 at 12:58 am

    Edge is a terrible product. Don't take my word for it-go look for yourself. Why Microsoft included this in Windows 10 is beyond understanding. Edge has almost no features beyond what the author is writing about while Chrome and Firefox more than you can count. This writer gets and F for reporting.

    • Annelie Pernheden
      March 2, 2016 at 6:48 am

      Firefox and Chrome for me too AND I want a way to, if not possible, remove it, at least be able to start Windows without it, as it slows down the pc.

    • Rann Xeroxx
      March 5, 2016 at 2:32 am

      You can't really judge Edge from strictly a x86 perspective. The main point of Edge is that it is a sandboxed universal app and it runs on all Windows 10 platforms. My company got a pre-release of a Surface Hub and it too had Edge on it and ran exactly the same as on the PC. I have a test Windows 10 Mobile device and, again, its the same Edge. Miracast to a monitor and with a BT keyboard and mouse and it works exactly like Edge on a PC.

      Still a work in progress but you can see the direction its going.

  10. Hildy J
    February 29, 2016 at 8:07 pm

    Maybe I just have thin fingers but I have no problem with the menus after a few days of practice. I'm using Firefox (44.0.2 at the moment) on the desktop side of Windows 8.1 on a Dell Venue 8 Pro (8" screen, 1280x800 landscape, text set to 125% in Windows Control Panel - Display).

    As far as the comparison, even after I go to Win10, Edge will need an Android port with synchronization and extensions before I'd consider it.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 29, 2016 at 9:10 pm

      My HP Stream 7 is a little bit smaller than that. Obviously, it's personal taste, but I prefer Edge on small screens.

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