It’s been half a year since we proposed several reasons why Microsoft Edge is great, but now that the novelty has faded, one important question remains: Is Microsoft Edge worth using while Chrome, Firefox, and Opera are still around? Is Edge good enough to be your primary browser?
I don’t think so. Not yet, anyway.
The Edge browser marks the start of an exciting new era for Microsoft and it’s definitely a step in the right direction — but maybe it was unveiled too quickly. It currently feels more like a prototype than a ready-to-use product, and while progress is still being made, it’s still not “there” yet.
Here are a few drawbacks that you may want to consider before leaving your current browser behind.
1. Weak Extension Support
Bar none, the worst mistake that Microsoft ever made with Edge was releasing it to the public without any extension support. A browser without extensions is like a computer without any USB ports: sure, it works, but that’s about it. These days, no extensions means no mainstream adoption.
The good news is that extensions are almost here! Technically, extensions were made available on March 17, but only for Build 14291 or later, which is limited to users in the Windows Insider Program. For everyone else, myself included, Edge is still a crippled, no-extension browser that leaves you thirsty for more.
Not only that, but even the people who can use extensions in Edge are left in want — there are only seven extensions currently available to install. A handful of third-party extensions, including LastPass and Evernote, are set to be released soon, but nobody knows exactly when “soon” will be.
When can you expect extensions to come to the public version of the browser? If all goes according to plan, full extension support should arrive in the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, which is slated for Summer 2016. However, Microsoft has said that that’s not set in stone, so I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you.
2. Lack of Full Control
There are lots of reasons to like Windows 10, but there are some pretty big reasons to hate it as well — including the fact that Microsoft really wants to force its users to behave in one set way. A lot of the flexibility is gone, and it’s starting to feel like Apple’s closed ecosystem.
And Edge suffers from a lot of that, too. Yeah, Microsoft offers a handful of settings that you can tweak, but they’re all very basic or superficial. If you really want to customize the browser, you can’t. Combined with the lack of extensions, you end up with an overly stiff and simple browser.
For example, Firefox lets you dig into the about:config page to alter hundreds of different settings and variables. Chrome and Opera aren’t as flexible, but you can still tamper with options in the chrome://flags and opera://flags pages. Edge doesn’t offer anything like that.
Overall, Edge just feels restrained. Don’t believe me? Try changing the default search engine to Google or Yahoo. It’s way more annoying than it has to be.
3. Privacy & Security Concerns
Back in February, Edge users collectively freaked out when news broke that the browser was actually storing your private data even when browsing in InPrivate Mode. Thus, it turned out that InPrivate Mode wasn’t actually so private after all.
Fortunately Microsoft responded quickly and rectified the issue before any major mishaps resulted from it. However, it did raise a question in everyone’s minds: if such an oversight could be made, how many other privacy-related flaws still exist in the browser?
Cortana is another feature of concern, not just for Edge but for Windows 10 as a whole. How much personal data does Cortana collect between all of your questions and commands? Who knows. The silver lining is that Edge’s Cortana doesn’t have always-on listening… yet.
And while Edge is a marked improvement over Internet Explorer in terms of security, what we find is that many of the security holes in IE still exist in Edge. On the other side, Edge also introduced a few holes of its own, such as the recent PDF exploit.
Not to mention that if Edge ever gets infected and loses core system files, there’s no easy way to completely reset the browser! As of this writing, you can only restore those missing files by using a Windows 10 image (which is a huge inconvenience).
4. No “Quality of Life” Features
A “quality of life” feature is one that isn’t necessary for the browser to function, but still provides a large enough measure of convenience and satisfaction as to be considered significant. Unfortunately, Edge is missing a lot of these.
For example, Edge can synchronize favorites, Reading Lists, and settings across multiple devices, but the ability to sync open tabs is still missing. As Microsoft clearly intends Windows 10 to be used across many devices, this seems like a big oversight on its part.
Other missing enhancements include: no history of recently closed tabs, no tab groups, poor handling of dragged tabs, no tab audio muting, and no ability to switch between multiple user profiles. The browser also suffers from occasional pages that won’t load and pages that randomly crash.
All in all, Edge currently feels rough and unpolished in a lot of ways. The core is there, and the browser definitely works when you need it in a pinch, but if you try to use it as a primary browser for daily use, you’ll likely find yourself more frustrated than satisfied.
5. Lagging Standards & Performance
This last issue with Edge isn’t as serious as the other ones, but it isn’t negligible either. As we found out in our recent in-depth comparison of all major browsers, Edge is far from leading the pack in terms of performance and compliance with Web standards.
To be fair, Edge won by a significant margin in the JetStream benchmark, but came in last in the Kraken and RoboHornet benchmarks (which are arguably more accurate and relevant than JetStream). Long story short, Edge has work to do before it becomes truly competitive.
Edge also came in last with respect to HTML5 compliance, scoring 453 out of 555 total points. By comparison, Firefox, Opera, and Chrome each scored 478, 520, and 521, respectively. Edge is better than Internet Explorer, of course, but may still render some websites improperly.
Microsoft Edge is Unimpressive
These days, when you’re trying to pick between multiple browsers, you just have to determine which feature is most important to you and then go with the browser that does it best. The problem with Microsoft Edge is that it’s simply not “the best” in any given area.
Want widespread extension support? Chrome. Want privacy and/or open source software? Firefox. Want speed and a clean user interface? Opera or Maxthon. Microsoft Edge doesn’t have an ace up its sleeve, unless you strictly use Windows 10 everywhere or you really want Cortana.
Are you using Microsoft Edge? If you had to pick one bad thing and one good thing about it, what would they be? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!