windows 10 edge browser

Windows 10 - The Edge Browser

Get the lowdown on the new Edge Browser.

Rewind

When Al Gore Tim Berners-Lee first invented the World Wide Web he conceived of a revolutionary way of presenting information on a page using simple text layout, embedded images and, most importantly, hyperlinks—where clicking on a portion of text or an image takes you to another page. He coded a rudimentary browser on an overpriced NeXT Cube PC, and just like that, the internet was on course to change our lives. The Information Superhighway has come a long way since November 1989, although it's essentially doing the same thing it started out as; pages filled with text and images, with links to other pages filled with text and images. The browsers we use to access the internet have come a long way since then, too, and with Windows 10, Microsoft have created a super-fast replacement for the long-in-the-tooth Internet Explorer. Oh, and that sound you hear? That's the sound of web designers worldwide celebrating the official demise of Internet Explorer. The king is dead. Long live the king! Allow me to introduce you to this new app.
 

Unified search bar

The default browser in Windows 10 is now Edge (previously codenamed "Spartan" which I thought was way better than "Edge,") and the icon is still a blue lowercase "e". One of the first things you may notice about Edge is that there's no search box sitting next to the address bar. That's because, like Google and Safari, Microsoft has merged the address bar and search box into the "Unified Search Bar." What this means is that the long box at the top of your screen can be used to either enter a web address directly (e.g. "http://www.bitwizards.com") or you can just search for what you're looking for (e.g. "movie showtimes in my zip code"). The Edge browser is smart enough to figure out what you're trying to do, and will respond appropriately. The default search engine Edge uses is Microsoft's Bing, but you can change this to your search engine of choice (Google, Yahoo, Altavista, Ask Jeeves...) by clicking/tapping the ellipsis icon (…) in the top right of the screen, going to Settings, then scrolling down to Advanced Settings, and hitting the Change button under the word "Bing". FYI, you can jump straight to the unified search bar with the keyboard shortcut control + l (lowercase L for "location").

edge search feature

Hub

Your favorites (bookmarks), history, reading list and downloads have all been combines under one icon, dubbed "The Hub." The icon is three uneven horizontal lines at the top right of the browser window. Favorites are sites you'd like to access regularly. Tap the star next to the URL to add a web page to favorites. History keeps track of the sites you've visited. This can be set in settings to synchronize across your Windows 10 devices, so you can go back to what you were visiting earlier on your work PC. Reading List is a built-in read-later service where you can save pages for offline viewing to read at your convenience (on your commute, perhaps). Downloads lists everything you've downloaded to your PC so you can quickly find that mp3 you purchased on Amazon.
 

Web Notes

Web Notes are a brand new feature that Microsoft has introduced to really take advantage of tablet computing. Web Notes allow you to draw on your screen, circle items, highlight text and attach notes to anything you see on a web page. And when you're done scribbling your notes, you can then send the entire thing to OneNote, your favorites, or an email. What? You're not using OneNote? You're missing out! Web Notes are a fantastic feature for quickly annotating a web page and then sharing that with someone. Highlight the pertinent parts of a Wikipedia entry and save it for a homework project. Circle houses you're interested in on a real estate website and send it to your spouse. Write notes on a website while it's being designed to annotate changes you need to see.
 

InPrivate Window

All good, modern browsers give you the ability to surf the web without leaving a trail. There are lots of reasons you might want to do this; checking private email or banking information, logging into multiple web accounts simultaneously, visiting a website without being automatically logged in, online shopping for your spouse, etc. Typically, when you visit a website your browser keeps a log of where you've been, so you can go back through your history at a later time. Also, many websites download cookies to your PC to store data (like your login username or shopping cart contents) so that the site remembers you next time you visit. When you use Edge's InPrivate browsing mode, nothing you visit is saved in the local history, and all session data and cookies are deleted when you exit. I personally use this mode a lot when I need to login to administer someone else's Office 365 account, without logging out of my own Office 365 account. To open an InPrivate Window simply click the ellipsis icon at the top right of the browser window and select New InPrivate Window.
 

Open with IE

Unfortunately, some websites still require Internet Explorer for full functionality (I'm looking at you, SharePoint!) Microsoft have acknowledged this by adding a shortcut to quickly open whatever page you’re on directly in Internet Explorer. If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of needing to open a page in IE (usually because of an Active X or Silverlight issue) simply click on the ellipsis icon and select Open with Internet Explorer (and cry).
 

Closing thoughts

Edge is definitely still in its infancy, but it has been built from the ground up without a bunch of legacy support slowing it down. Some believe it to be not fully baked, but there’s no doubt it’s lightning fast. The feature most noticeably missing is plugin support. Right now, Edge doesn’t support any plugins, which means you can’t use third-party password managers or media plugins. Hopefully this important feature will be coming soon. Also, I want to draw your attention to some default settings I think you should consider changing. Go to the ellipsis icon and select Settings. I personally prefer the “dark theme” and I change "Open with" to Open with Previous Pages so that Edge will always open up right where you left off last time.

edge browser settings

If your company is still stuck using Windows 7 or 8, or worse (gasp) Windows XP, it's time to get with the times and get into Windows 10. 
Comments
 
comments powered by Disqus

Author

Samuel O. Blowes, Director of IT
Samuel O. Blowes

Director of IT

Read more