What is Microsoft Edge? Everything you need to know – IT PRO

Microsoft Edge at a glance

  • Microsoft Edge comes as the default browser in Windows 10 launching 29 July
  • Internet Explorer will continue but only to ensure compatibility with older applications
  • Edge will be offered across all Windows 10 devices

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Microsoft has unveiled the next-generation browser set to replace Internet Explorer (IE).

Dubbed Microsoft Edge, the faster, more streamlined browser completely scraps some of the long-running features of IE, and starting anew.

Microsoft Edge latest news

08/06/2015: The latest build of Windows 10 has finally hit the internet and this has also brought a few new features to Microsoft Edge. In build 10134, Edge gets a new home button and can now import favourites from another browser.

The home button will site next to the address bar and will do what home buttons do: take you back to the homepage.

The import option also does what it says on the tin and import bookmarks and web addresses from another browser with a few clicks.

The browser now boasts a dark theme to bring it in line with the rest of the operating system. This is not enabled by default and needs a small change to the registry in order to enable this.

Microsoft Edge release date

This new browser will fully launch on 29 July, the same day as Windows 10 goes on general release. As with all of Microsoft’s browser it will be free but only available on Windows 10. Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 users will be able to upgrade to Windows 10 for free over the next twelve months.

Microsoft Edge will be the default browser for both PC and mobile versions of Windows 10, replacing Internet Explorer 11. As it sports its own rendering engine, it is unlikely that it will ever appear on iOS or Android devices.

Microsoft Edge specs and features

Microsoft Edge sports a new rendering engine called EdgeHTML. This replacing the Trident engine used in IE over the last couple of decades. The new browser also doesn’t support legacy technologies such as ActiveX and Browser Helper Objects, and instead uses an extension system, much like rivals Firefox and Chrome.

IE 11 won’t completely go away. It remains alongside Edge purely for compatibility purposes and is nearly identical to the version on Windows 8.1.

Edge integrates with the Cortana Digital Assistant to provide voice control, search, and personalised info to users.

Users can use Edge to annotate web pages. These annotations are stored on OneDrive and can be used with other users. There is a “Reading List” function that syncs content between devices and a “Reading Mode” that strips out formatting to allow easier reading on devices.

Redmond has also removed 220,000 lines of code from IE for Edge, formerly referred to as Project Spartan.

According to a blog post, Microsoft has also got rid of over 300 interfaces.

Many of the alterations have been made to keep Edge more in line with rival browsers such as Chrome and Firefox, rather than its outdated predecessor.

“Not supporting these legacy technologies in Microsoft Edge has a number of benefits: better interoperability with other modern browsers, improved performance, security & reliability, and reduced code complexity, just to name a few,” wrote principal program manager lead Charles Morris and senior program manager Jacob Rossi.

Hundreds of non-interoperable APIs have also been removed, some because they have replacements and others for the compatibility issues they pose.

It highlights Microsoft’s committment to interoperability with their new browser.

The first details of Edge were revealed at Microsoft’s annual developers’ conference, Build, alongside a brand new logo to accompany the announcement. Though still using the familiar ‘E’ symbol, the design and colouring has changed slightly.

A key feature is the integration of Microsoft’s virtual assistant, Cortana, which can be used as part of the search function.

Furthermore, users can draw on and annotate web pages. This feature works across both desktop and mobile devices, with touch-enabled phones and tablets allowing users to draw using their finger or a stylus and PC users using their mouse and keyboard.

Rumours emerged in March that Microsoft was planning to drop IE in favour of the new browser. The old IE will still be temporarily available for Windows 10 users, however.

Microsoft confirmed these short-term plans for the aged browser on an IE blog. “We recognise some enterprises have legacy web sites that use older technologies designed only for Internet Explorer, such as custom ActiveX controls and Browser Helper Objects,” the company said.

“For these users, Internet Explorer will also be available on Windows 10.”

Previous reports suggested the browser would use EdgeHTML, a revamped engine replacing long-serving engine Trident, used for IE over the last couple of decades.

“To date, we’ve fixed over 3000 interoperability issues (some dating back to code written in the 90’s) on top of the over 40 new web standards we’re working on. For example, longstanding innerHTML issues are now fixed,” Jacob Rossi, senior engineer at Microsoft’s web platform team, said.

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