Microsoft Edge is the standard browser for Windows machines these days, and this comfortable position has made it far less competitive than others. While its security is good, it's slow and has bad privacy. Read our full Edge review for the details.
Microsoft Edge was launched in 2015 and replaced Internet Explorer as the built-in web browser for Windows. The current version runs on the EdgeHTML engine, but a replacement built on Chromium is available to download as a preview and expected to launch in fall 2019.
This Microsoft Edge review focuses on the current public version, but it draws some comparisons to the preview build based on Chromium when relevant.
Edge falls well short of other browsers in terms of features and speed. Though it does well on security, its score on privacy is mediocre because of unclear settings and a lot of data collection enabled by default.
On desktop, Edge is only compatible with Windows 10, but support for Windows 7 and later, as well as macOS, will be included in the upcoming Chromium-based release. There’s also a mobile version available for Android 4.4 and later and iOS 10.0 and later. For this review we used a Windows 10 laptop and an iPhone running iOS 12.3 for testing purposes.
- Built-in analysis of media & news outlets on mobile
- Low RAM usage
- Good security
- Few standout features
- Convoluted privacy settings
There’s not much to talk about regarding features in Edge. Though there’s a library of extensions you can download for the browser, it’s tiny compared to other browsers, such as Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox (read our Chrome review). Unless you’re looking for something basic like an ad blocker, you probably won’t find an extension that provides what you need.
Edge comes with a built-in notes function that allows you to write or draw on a screengrab of the website you’re on. That saves you the trouble of saving a screenshot and manually editing the picture if you want to draw attention to specific parts of a webpage.
There’s also a reading list feature that lets you save pages for later reading and make them accessible when you’re offline.
The feature on desktop that stands out the most is the “read aloud” tool, which uses Microsoft’s speech engine to translate the content of a webpage from text to speech. It works well enough for English webpages, but it’s hit or miss for anything else.
Edge on iOS and Android comes with “newsguard,” which analyzes websites based on the accuracy and reliability of their information. For example, if you access a trusted news publication, such as BBC, the browser tells you “this website generally maintains basic standards of accuracy and accountability” while InfoWars gets a warning stating the opposite.
The browser also comes with a translator, which after being turned on can translate text between more than 60 languages, including English, French, German and Spanish. The feature is also available for desktop, but it needs to be installed through the Edge extension store. It falls short of Google Translate in terms of supported languages and quality of translations, though.
You can turn on desktop mode in the settings, which is a standard feature in mobile browsers. Turning it on tricks websites into thinking you’re on a desktop device, so they serve you the normal version of the website rather than the one optimized for mobile.
The “read aloud” feature mentioned above is also available on mobile, which is great for those with reading difficulties or other disabilities because it makes large amounts of text much more accessible to those users.
You can link your phone with your desktop and send open tabs instantly between devices, as well as sync your settings, bookmarks, etc. That said, it’s a pain to set up compared to other browsers because you need to enter your phone number in the Windows settings and verify your device through a text message rather than just signing in with your account in the browser.
A floating video feature can be enabled in the settings. Doing so lets you keep playing a video after switching to another tab. That’s an uncommon feature on mobile browsers and makes Edge great for watching videos as you’re not locked in while watching, allowing you to do other things in the browser as the video plays.
In terms of customization, there’s not much you can do. You can change between light and dark themes, and that’s about it. There’s a news reader on the homepage where you can set your region and language, but you can’t change the news source to anything other than MSN.
Because there aren’t many features baked into the browser, Edge’s interface is clean and easy to navigate on desktop and mobile.
Edge on Desktop
Edge looks similar to most browsers on desktop. Your tabs, navigation controls, address bar and bookmarks are at the top of the screen. By clicking the down arrow to the right of your tabs, you can expand the tab bar to show previews of each one, making it easier to switch to the correct tab if you have a lot of them open.
The settings are located in the top right corner, but switching to another application automatically closes the menu, which can be frustrating.
Instead of endlessly minimizing tabs, Edge lets you scroll horizontally once you have a certain number open, much like Firefox does (read our Firefox review). You can pin tabs, which stops them from being closed, and a button in the top left corner lets you set your open tabs aside, moving them from the regular tab bar to a separate menu where you can reopen them later.
Edge on Mobile
The mobile version of Edge also sports a clean and easy-to-use interface. The address bar and bookmarks are at the top of the screen, and if you’ve turned on the “newsguard” feature, there’s a little shield icon that turns green, gray or red depending on the editorial quality of the website when visiting news or media outlets.
The standard navigation controls and tab menu are along the bottom of the screen, and if you hold the back button, you’ll be presented with your recent browsing history. There’s also a button here to instantly send your open tab to your desktop device. The settings menu in the bottom left gives you access to the “read aloud” feature and the reading list.
Edge on desktop is almost painfully slow compared to its competitors, clocking in at roughly 60 percent of the speed of other browsers, such as Chrome, Firefox and Opera (read our Opera review). Its mobile version does better, achieving speeds similar to other mobile browsers.
We also ran tests on the preview build of the Chromium version, and though it’s hard to say if the results will carry to the public release, it’s significantly faster, outperforming all major browsers except Vivaldi (read our Vivaldi review).
The browser does much better when it comes to resource consumption. It uses roughly 25 percent less RAM than Chrome or Opera, but it uses more than Firefox when under a heavy load.
Edge uses the Microsoft Defender SmartScreen system to protect users against malicious websites, including malware and phishing schemes. Many browsers use Google Safe Browsing for that purpose, but tests show that SmartScreen outperforms its competitors, such as Firefox and Chrome, when it comes to quickly identifying malicious content.
Like other browsers, Edge shows you a warning when accessing a website over an unsecure HTTP connection, but the warning can be easy to miss because it’s just a small exclamation mark label without text. That’s improved in the preview build of the Chromium-based replacement with a warning includes a “not secure” text label.
As mentioned in our guide on which web browser is the most secure, Edge receives updates roughly once per month, which is less frequent than say Chrome or Firefox. Once the browser switches to Chromium, it’ll need to improve that because Chromium receives an update about every two to three weeks, which could leave Edge vulnerable if it lags too far behind in updates.
Edge collects a lot of information on its users by default, including information about your device and browsing history. The data it collects is used to give you tailored ads, predict your typed webpages and analyze the security of websites.
It’s possible to limit the data collection by switching off features in the Edge settings and the Windows settings. That said, if you want to maximize privacy, you’ll have to sacrifice certain features and safety measures, such as page prediction or protection from malicious websites.
It’s possible to make Edge a private browser, but you have to manually disable a lot of options that are enabled by default to do so. That combined with the settings being in two separate menus in the browser and the operating system makes the browser lose points when it comes to privacy. For more on how to maximize your privacy, read our anonymous browsing guide.
Edge is a mediocre browser that doesn’t have a whole lot going for it to make it stand out in the crowded browser market. Though it has solid security, there’s little in the way of features or customizability, and its privacy controls are convoluted. It doesn’t use a lot of system resources, but it’s slow on desktop compared to anything else.
That said, the mobile version of the browser is better because its speed is more comparable to the competition and it comes with a great feature that informs you whether a news source is trustworthy. The preview build for the upcoming Chromium release is also promising, but it remains to be seen if it can deliver once it’s officially released.
What do you think of Edge? Is the excellent security and low RAM usage enough to make up for its low speed, lack of features and questionable privacy? Let us know in the comments below. Thank you for reading.
What Is Microsoft Edge?
Microsoft Edge is the default browser on Windows computers.
How to Uninstall Microsoft Edge
Uninstalling Edge can have unexpected results and often doesn’t work on the latest build of Windows 10. You can disable it by following a few steps, though. You need to navigate to the “C:\Windows\SystemApps” folder and rename the “Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge_8wekyb3d8bbwe” folder anything else. Once it’s renamed, the browser will be disabled.
How to Reset Microsoft Edge
To reset Edge, you need to open your Windows settings, choose the “apps” menu and scroll down until you find the entry for Microsoft Edge. Click the list entry and select “advanced options” and click the “reset” button to restore the browser to factory settings.
How to Update Microsoft Edge
Edge is updated through Windows Update, which means it’ll usually automatically update whenever there’s a new version. If you’ve disabled automatic updates in Windows, you need to open the Windows settings, choose “update & security” then “Windows Update” and click the button to check for updates.
How to Change the Homepage on Microsoft Edge
To change the homepage, all you need to do is click the three dots in the top right corner of the browser, click “settings,” find the drop-down labeled “open Microsoft Edge with,” then choose “a specific page or pages.” You can then fill in any URL you want to act as your homepage.