For a long time, Microsoft was king of the browser market following its victory over Netscape in the so-called browser wars of the ‘90s. The launch of Google Chrome in 2008 changed all this, though, and in 2012 Chrome eclipsed Internet Explorer in users.
This trend continued, and in an effort to stay relevant, Microsoft released Edge in 2015. In this Edge vs. Chrome battle, we’ll see if Microsoft’s overhaul was enough.
The stats tell us it wasn’t, as Edge has continuously struggled to attract users. Despite officially replacing Internet Explorer, to this day it has yet to pass its older brother in user numbers. Chrome, on the other hand, dominates the browser market but also receives its fair share of criticism, particularly in the case of privacy.
Setting Up a Fight: Edge vs Chrome
There are five rounds to this contest, with each one awarding one point. Thus, the browser that first reaches three points will be declared the winner. However, we’ll go through all five rounds to give you a full picture, even if one manages an early win. We’ll be comparing the browsers on features, ease of use, performance, security and privacy.
Features is the obvious place to start, and important things to keep in mind here are extension libraries, cross-device syncing and customization, as well as other minor features.
On desktop, Edge is seriously lacking in features. This isn’t a conscious choice of deferring to third-party extensions, like it is for Chrome or Firefox, as the list of available add-ons is pitiful.
There is a notes function, though, which lets you draw and write directly on top of websites and take screenshots. There’s also a reading list, where you can save webpages for later reading, even when offline.
Edge also integrates Microsoft Speech by offering a “read aloud” feature, which is great for users with poor vision or reading difficulties, but it only really works in English. Bing Translator is also built into the browser, but it covers fewer languages and performs worse in terms of translation accuracy than Google’s translation service.
You can sync everything you’d expect between devices — like bookmarks, preferences and browsing history — but it’s more difficult to set up than it needs to be.
To link devices together, you must give Microsoft your phone number and verify your mobile device via SMS. There’s also basically zero customization to speak of, except for switching between dark and light modes.
On mobile, Edge is a far better browser. It comes with several unique features, like the Newsguard, a database that analyzes news sources and informs you of how trustworthy they generally are.
For example, when visiting The New York Times or The Guardian, Edge tells you that “this website generally maintains basic standards of accuracy and accountability.”
You can also turn on floating videos on mobile, which lets you move to a different tab while the video keeps playing. This is something that’s included in a few desktop browsers, like Opera (read our Opera review), but is rarely seen on mobile.
Chrome’s extension library is second to none, and this in large part makes up for its relatively low number of features. The sync feature is easy to set up and syncs everything you’d expect , and the browser is also well integrated with the various Google services, like Gmail, Google Docs and Google Translate.
There’s also a built-in PDF reader, though it’s fairly basic, as it lacks more advanced features like signatures and dynamic PDFs.
A really great feature that should be more widely adopted among browsers is the reverse-image search option. You can find this in the context menu when right-clicking an image, making it easy to find out where it comes from or find similar images.
You can also set up multiple users, which comes in handy not just for shared computers, but also if you like having dedicated browsing profiles for things like work or studying.
Sadly, there’s not much you can customize natively in the browser, but there are thousands of third-party themes available that give you a huge range of options for how you want the browser to look.
On mobile, there’s not much to say, as the browser plays it safe and for the most part only offers standard functionality. There is a reading list, though, which allows you to save and download webpages for later reading that will be accessible even when you’re offline.
Round One Thoughts
Given all the functionality available to Chrome users, mostly in the form of extensions, this one wasn’t even close. Although Edge’s mobile version has some surprising and very useful features, it simply cannot keep up on desktop, so Chrome takes an early lead after the first round.
Ease of Use
Now it’s time to look at how easy each browser is to use. Tab management is a major factor here, as well as overall interface design, layout and minor convenience features.
Edge’s interface is clean and easy to wrap your head around, but this is largely due to the dearth of features that we covered in the last round. Tab management is surprisingly good, though, as there is horizontal scrolling and a separate section for pinned tabs.
You can also instantly send an open tab to a different device. This saves you from digging through your desktop history while you’re sitting on the bus, so that you can keep reading that article you started earlier.
Chrome’s user interface is simple and well-designed, and since the browser has become the dominant one during the past decade, a lot of browsers have copied its general layout. This makes Chrome feel very familiar to most users, as the browser they’re switching from is probably either based on Chromium or designed with it in mind.
It’s also easy to access tabs that are open on other devices because Chrome on mobile has a separate menu for these. You can do the same the other way around, but the “tabs on other devices” menu is hidden inside your browsing history when on desktop.
Round Two Thoughts
Although both browsers are easy to get used to, for Edge this feels more like an unintended consequence of an incredibly sparse browser.
With Chrome, on the other hand, you get a clean interface that was clearly designed from the get-go to spare the user from being overwhelmed with options and features. Although this round certainly wasn’t as clear-cut as the last one, it’s nonetheless another point for Chrome.
With Chrome leading by two points already, all it needs to claim the victory is to win the next round covering performance. Here, the two most important factors are speed and resource consumption, but data saving features will also play a part.
Edge is incredibly slow, clocking in some of the lowest speeds of any browser we’ve reviewed. In fact, its speed is nearly half that of other major browsers, like Chrome or Firefox (read our Firefox review), which is a huge detriment. On the upside, though, RAM usage is low, especially when compared to browsers that run on Chromium.
Chrome is among the fastest browsers on the market. On desktop, only Vivaldi (read our Vivaldi review) outperforms it, while on mobile, it’s also one of the fastest browsers.
However, Chrome is infamous for its excessive RAM use, and computers with low memory will quickly begin to struggle when you leave a large number of tabs open at the same time.
Round Three Thoughts
Unlike the last round, this one was a slam-dunk for Chrome. Google’s browser is incredibly fast, whereas Edge is so slow it hurts. Even though Edge uses considerably less RAM than Chrome, this doesn’t make up for the huge difference in speed.
With this win, Chrome has managed to claim an early victory, but we’ll keep going so you can get the full picture of how the two compare.
Now we move on to security, which will either be a chance for Chrome to start doing victory laps, or for Edge to tighten the gap and finish with a less embarrassing result. Here, we’ll be taking a look at various security features, like safe browsing databases, unsecure connection warnings, built-in pop-up and ad blockers, as well as update frequency.
Edge uses a proprietary system developed by Microsoft, called SmartScreen, to block users from accessing unsafe websites that may infect their computer with malware or lure them into phishing schemes. This is a solid, safe browsing database, as it outperforms the most common option — Google Safe Browsing — for most malicious websites.
You get the standard unsafe connection warning when connecting to a website through HTTP, but it’s very easy to miss the warning. The update frequency is also poor, as the browser only receives an update about once a month.
The fact that Microsoft is developing a replacement browser based on Chromium might be responsible for this, though, as resources are probably being diverted there.
There’s a built-in pop-up blocker, but this is practically a given these days. Generally, native pop-up blockers are not as good as dedicated third-party ones, so if you browse a lot of websites employing pop-up ads, check out our list of the best pop-up blockers.
There is no ad-blocker packaged into the browser, and unlike Chrome, there are not that many third-party options to choose from.
Unsurprisingly, Google uses its own safe browsing database to protect its users from malicious websites, including ones with malware or phishing schemes. This is a great security database that is used by many different browsers, and for good reason.
The warning you’re presented with when connecting with an unsecure connection is clear and noticeable, as it includes both text and a symbol. A pop-up blocker is included in Chrome, but no ad-blocker, though there are countless alternatives for this on Chrome’s web store.
As noted in our article on which web browser is the most secure, Chrome has excellent update frequency. This is important because cybercriminals are working around the clock to discover new security loopholes, meaning updates need to be frequent to undermine this effort. This is especially critical for Google, as the world’s most popular browser is a huge target for attacks.
Round Four Thoughts
This round was the closest one so far in this battle. Although Edge has a better safe browsing database, its unsecure connection warning is easy to miss and the update frequency is far too low.
Google, on the other hand, updates its browser on a regular basis, rapidly patching security holes. Although Google Safe Browsing isn’t quite as good as SmartScreen, it’s still solid and Chrome’s HTTP warning is easy to see.
With the score at 4-0 in Chrome’s favor, the king of web browsers has a chance to pull off a clean sweep. For this final round, we’ll be examining the privacy of each browser, looking at things like data collection policies, the companies’ reputations, past privacy scandals and features, like tracking protection.
Although Edge collects a lot of data on users — ranging from your IP address to your browsing history and device information — it’s possible to make the browser considerably more private, though it requires a lot of fiddling with settings.
These options are also divided into two separate menus, one in the browser and one in the Windows settings, which can make customizing them to your liking a confusing process.
Because Google’s core business is based on ads, it relies on the data and user information it collects from people using its products. This means that, while it doesn’t sell your data outright, as some companies do, it still uses it to optimize advertising.
In theory, it’s possible to delete the data Google has on you by following our guide on how to erase your Google history, but there’s no way to really know if this deletes it completely. That said, tracking controls are decent, but this doesn’t help much when Google itself completely disregards your privacy.
Google has also been involved in several serious privacy scandals where it continued to collect data on users despite them explicitly opting out. Even worse, the company has been openly implicated in the NSAs PRISM program, meaning that anything Google knows about you is probably shared with intelligence agencies.
Since there’s no separate data collection statement for Chrome itself, you’re forced to try to work out what parts of the policy relates to it. At the end of the day, if you’re a Chrome user, you’ll want to check out our best VPN for Chrome list.
Round Five Thoughts
Neither Microsoft nor Google have great reputations when it comes to privacy. They both collect copious amounts of data on their users, and their privacy policies are convoluted and hard to decipher.
However, while it’s possible through some effort to turn Edge into a more private browser, Google has been involved in various scandals where it kept collecting data despite users turning the relevant settings off. This gives Edge a narrow win in this category, preventing Chrome from taking home all five points.
Chrome took an early lead in this battle and ran with it, achieving victory after only three rounds. It even looked like it would pull off a perfect score, but Google’s awful track record on privacy ensured that Edge managed to score a single point in the last round, even though it doesn’t excel in this category, either.
While Chrome certainly has its fair share of flaws, Edge is a complete disaster of a browser, which made this an easy fight for Chrome, unlike the more closely fought Firefox vs. Google Chrome battle we did previously.
What do you think of Chrome and Edge? Do you agree that Chrome is clearly the better of the two, or is there something you really like about Edge that we didn’t touch on? Let us know in the comments below. Thank you for reading.