This year saw major news out of Redmond, with Microsoft releasing both a new operating system, Windows 10, and a new flagship browser, Microsoft Edge. Formerly codenamed Project Spartan, Edge is the default browser for both desktop and mobile versions of Windows 10. While Internet Explorer 11 will continue to be bundled with Windows 10 for compatibility reasons, the company’s heart is clearly with the new Edge. So, why has Microsoft retired old, faithful IE? And what have they replaced it with?
Internet Explorer is, and has been for decades, the most popular desktop browser in the world – so why overhaul it? To many pundits, Edge is an attempt to start fresh – each version of IE had built on the foundation of the previous, and over the years, this had resulted in a product that was bigger, slower, and less secure than it needed to be. Starting from scratch, with the latest technology as the foundation, allows Microsoft to leapfrog the competition back to the cutting edge with a faster, leaner product. Plus, by ditching versioned releases (there will only be one Edge – no Edge 2, Edge 3, Edge 4, etc), Microsoft’s browser will always be up to date, and able to securely use the latest web technology without qualification.
But it’s not just a new engine under the hood – Microsoft Edge is pushing the envelope in other ways. Beyond the usual web-browsing capabilities you’d expect, Edge is rolling out some brand new, stand-out key features that sound pretty great:
Make a Web Note
The web note button is a pen and paper icon that, when clicked, allows the user to make their own notes directly on the page. Once the web note button is clicked, a set of tools appear, providing the user with different style options. They can choose between different pen sizes and colours, use a marker, eraser and a crop tool, as well as use the keyboard to type a comment. These notes can then be saved and uploaded to OneNote or shared with other users using the app installed on their system. The Make a Web Note feature has potential to streamline the way clients and production teams communicate.
Store it in the Hub
The hub will be the central place where a user can store all the items (pages, links, images, articles, downloads) that they find on the web. The Hub can be visited at any time to access any of the stored material, as well as your browsing history, simply by selecting the Hub icon. This feature makes the browser more personal and customized for the user.
Set the Reading View for Less Distractions
As online reading increases, the option of getting rid of sidebars and advertisements, and creating a more reader-friendly look, is important. The reading view button, located next to the address bar, allows the user to read from a screen that looks more like a PDF document and less like a busy, attention-competing web page. The page is transformed instantly with an easily readable font, more white space and less advertising content.
Now Create a Reading List
If you find yourself getting a lot of use out of the Read View feature, then you’ll love the Reading List feature. Much like creating a favourites list of page links, a reading list is a set of web pages that have been marked for later reading and stored in your hub. ME allows the user to create a reading list as they are browsing the web and then return to the list at a later time or date to read the article or content. This list is also stored in the Hub.
Meet Cortana – Your New Personal Assistant
Perhaps the most impressive feature of ME is the virtual assistant known as Cortana. Cortana was first introduced on Windows smartphones. This feature has now made its way to your browser. ‘She’ will browse the web for you, find items on your pc and will begin to understand your browsing patterns by continually monitoring your browsing behaviour. For example, if you often browse for fitness-related information, during a regular search using ME you might get news about a new gym opening up in the neighbourhood. If it’s not for you, Cortana can be switched off – but it will still take note of how you browse the web, should you change your mind and turn it back on.
With all of these new features and a revamped core, ME could very well be one of the most subtly futuristic products to hit the technology shelves this year. So, fasten your seat belts and get ready for a brand new surfing experience as soon as you upgrade to Windows 10.