Microsoft’s Leading Edge?

Well there’s a surprise! In a recent blog we celebrated the imminent demise of Internet Explorer. At the time it was supposedly going to be replaced by a brand new browser called Spartan, but the new browser has now been formally introduced as Microsoft Edge. It was revealed at the recent Microsoft Build 2015 conference in San Francisco.

According to Joe Belfiore, who heads Microsoft’s operating systems group, “The name refers to being on the edge of consuming and creating. It refers to the developer notion of being the closest to the modern capabilities of the web.”

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Edge will be launched later in 2015, along with Windows 10. So just what is this new browser like? Can it really be that different from any other modern browser? Here are The Top Five Features of Edge:

FASTER SEARCHING

Well yes, compared to Internet Explorer it must be faster surely?! But, like other contemporary browsers Edge now gives you the ability to enter your search directly into the address bar. It will then not only give you search suggestions and results from the web, but also display relevant results from your browsing history and favourites.

A particularly welcome feature is that it also indicates whether regularly visited sites have an app and, if so, will offer a download link.

THE HUB

Continuing the “everything in one place” theme, Edge offers The Hub. The Hub displays everything of current interest to you – favourites, reading list, browsing history and current downloads – all together, enabling greater coherence in finding and using information.

WRITE ON!

We like this! Edge is the only browser that enables you to write directly onto web pages. So you can make notes and comments and highlight information on the page for future reference.

Microsoft emphasise this interactive feature as being designed “for getting things done”, and an integral part of Edge’s ability to move the user from consumption to creation. Your annotations will be saved as part of that page either locally on your computer or in the cloud. The next time you access that webpage, Edge will ask if you want to open your annotations as well.

MAKE READING A PLEASURE

It’s so frustrating when you come across a really interesting article that you don’t have time to read properly, then when you do have a spare moment you can’t immediately find it!

Edge’s Reading List is a place to save such articles or anything else that you want to read at a later stage. Edge also has a reading view layout to enable you to choose the position, style and even font size to suit.

ASK CORTANA

Cortana is Edge’s interactive voice assistant. All you need to do is highlight a word or phrase you’d like to know more about, press and hold or right-click, then Ask Cortana. You will then get information on the screen and also audibly if you prefer.

Cortana is designed to be iterative in that the more you interact with Edge and Cortana, the more customised the experience becomes. There are also rumours that the Cortana voice assistant software is coming to both iOS and Android, which would position it to replace both Apple Siri and Google Now.

To learn more about Microsoft Edge, take a look at this brief video. We certainly like what we see so far!

If you can’t wait until the official launch to see Edge for yourself, you can try it out through Microsoft’s Windows Insider Program. You will need a Microsoft account to sign up for it, and will then have the opportunity to be one of the first to see updates and improvements to Windows 10. There is also an app to send feedback.

One potential issue is browsing privacy, as Microsoft Edge won’t support browser extensions initially at launch. However, a recent leak of the latest build – shown in screenshots posted by Chinese website ITHome – details a new private browsing session, autofill for usernames and passwords and a new view of top sites and suggested content. So these features may well follow soon after the launch.

Will Microsoft Edge really – as the video claims – open the window to a better web experience or will unforeseen glitches arise that echo the aspects of Internet Explorer we all love to hate? Time will tell but, for now, it does look like Microsoft may indeed have the Leading Edge!