Thursday, August 6, 2015

Windows 10 Day 7: Using Microsoft Edge

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Took a break from writing articles yesterday and today I am back to continue on this series by talking about the new Microsoft Edge browser that replaces Internet Explorer in Windows 10. But before I go on, I would like to take the time to sincerely apologize if you are unhappy with my previous update article which was quite badly written. I can assure you that I will try not to write such an article again, probably the first and last time you will ever see such a thing on this blog and if you have not read the previous article, don't waste you time on that.

But before starting off today's slight debate about the new Edge browser that comes with Windows 10, here's a little Microsoft updates since the last 48 hours. The first one is that Microsoft has finally released a Windows 10 update that is dated to August 5. You should see the cumulative update (KB3081424) being downloaded onto your computer and you'll be prompted to install it afterwards. No official word as to what is actually included in this 300MB KB update but it's probably just some stability updates.

Another big new from the guys over at Redmond is that they have finally released Office Sway to the public and there's now an official application to help you create that interactive blog post. In case you don't know what Sway is, you should check out my initial impressions on the new office program here. Also, today Microsoft is also officially launching a new site called docs.com which allows users to share their Microsoft office documents online as an interactive project.

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Right, back to the topic in hand today which is the new and improved default Windows browser. Initially called Project Spartan, the Internet Explorer successor was introduced into Windows 10 as a fresh new web browser without any strings attached. With the new Edge browser, Microsoft tried their very best to make it look different so that Windows users will actually give the browser a definitive try rather than simply going back to their preferred web browser.

As is, the Edge browser comes pinned on the Windows 10 taskbar by default and Internet Explorer still exists deep inside of Windows 10 due to the fact that some corporate web apps still use the IE engine to power up. But chances are, you won't stumble upon any loading errors with Edge as a consumer and that's a good thing because this new browser comes with a new an improved rendering engine that is capable of running modern websites with all the new web technologies implemented.
Windows 10 review - While, the underlying framework is forked, Microsoft has removed all legacy code used to run Internet Explorer and the result is a rendering engine which is on par with modern browsers. Continue reading.
In terms performance, the Edge browser single handedly beat competing browsers in benchmarks and in real world performance the browser performs pretty smoothly. The RAM usage is pretty low and startup is quite consistent with competing third party browsers out there but it still starts up a little slower when compared to Chrome. The aesthetics in the other hand is yet another thing that Microsoft has tweaked with the new Edge browser.

The design blends in well with the new Windows 10 elements and Microsoft has chose to go with a more streamlined design with the tabbed layout right above the address bar which now also servers as an omnibox which can directly process search terms through the default search engine. Besides that, there's also a couple of new buttons on the browser itself that looks a little foreign to first time users and it'll take a little time to get used to them.

While Microsoft confirms that the Edge browser will support third party extensions similar to that found in Chrome and Firefox, the feature is currently still not available. But on the upside, there's a pretty neat looking dark theme built right into the browser itself and the dark theme will not only highlight the taskbar but will also be represented in other parts of the browser like the reading mode.
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But Microsoft Edge isn't just only built to be a fast and modern browser that replaced Internet Explorer, Microsoft has built quite a number of unique features right into the browser itself. The most prominent feature that everyone is most likely going to use is the reading mode which is a book button on the address bar. The button itself will only be available when there is a body of text on the current page and when activated, the feature will transform the website into a page that only contains text and images.

This means that all the unnecessary website elements especially the pesky advertisements will be thrown away when this mode is activated. Of course there are a couple of settings that you can tweak about this mode like the font size and the theme color.

Beyond that, the Edge browser also comes with a one of a kind annotation mode which works a lot like the snipping tool. With the button on the taskbar, you will be able to take a snapshot of the current website you are viewing and the built in inking tools will enable you to annotate as well as highlight select portions of the site. After that, you will be able to crop the image itself and you can either choose to save the annotation or directly share it through the built in social applications.

The feature itself sounds very useful indeed but I have not actually used it to do some actual work like noting important keywords. It's more of a fun little tool to showcase the new Edge browser to others. On a side note, you don't need a touchscreen to be able to annotate through the web clip feature, you can do it with a mouse but it's not going to look too natural.

That is about it for the tagline features that exists inside the new Microsoft Edge browser, sure it's not much but it might just be enough to convince some users to switch. Well I have certainly not switched to using Microsoft Edge as my default browser in Windows 10 mainly because it does not come with supports for extensions yet and I am not a big fan of the integrated favorites bar.

Despite that, I still keep it pinned on my taskbar because sometimes Chrome just uses too much RAM and I can't possibly be running multiple instances of memory intensive programs as the same time so I sometime choose to use Edge but that depends on my mood. Not to mention that Cortana is also integrated right in to the browser which instantly makes it even cooler, but it's a subtle inclusion, I don't use it that often anyways.

Casual web browsing is not the only good thing about Edge, it's also a pretty solid PDF reader by itself. Just remember that besides being the default web browser in Windows 10, Microsoft Edge is also the default way for you to open PDF files. You can change this in the Settings application under the System > Default apps menu.

All right to end this article today, take a look at this funny Windows Feedback response from the internet about the likelihood of a tech geek to recommend the Windows 10 upgrade to their friends and family. That is all I have for today, this series is nearly coming to an end and in the coming days I will round things up by talking about the multitasking features as well as taking another look at the new Windows Store application that come pre-installed with Windows 10.