Microsoft Edge
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Microsoft Edge

Microsoft Edge
Microsoft Edge logo (2019).svg
Microsoft Edge on Windows 10, using the dark theme.
Microsoft Edge on Windows 10, using the dark theme.
Original author(s)Microsoft
Developer(s)Microsoft
Initial releaseJuly 29, 2015; 5 years ago (2015-07-29)
Stable release(s) [±]
Android45.10.4.5088 / November 16, 2020; 8 days ago (2020-11-16)[1]
iOS45.11.1 / November 19, 2020; 5 days ago (2020-11-19)[2]
macOS87.0.664.41 / November 19, 2020; 5 days ago (2020-11-19)[3]
Windows87.0.664.41 / November 19, 2020; 5 days ago (2020-11-19)[3]
Xbox One44.18363.8131 / February 11, 2020; 9 months ago (2020-02-11)[]
Preview release(s)
Beta Channel: 87.0.664.40
Dev Channel: 88.0.702.0
Canary Channel: 88.0.685.0
Engines
Operating systemAndroid
iOS
macOS 10.12 and later
Windows 7 and later
Linux (specifically Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, and openSUSE distributions)
Xbox One System Software
PlatformIA-32
x86-64
ARM32
ARM64
Included withWindows 10
Windows 10 Mobile
Xbox One System Software
LicenseProprietary software[6]
a component of Windows 10
Websitewww.microsoft.com/edge

Microsoft Edge is a cross-platform web browser developed by Microsoft. It was first released for Windows 10 and Xbox One in 2015, then for Android and iOS in 2017,[7][8] for macOS in 2019,[9] and as a preview for Linux in October 2020.[10][11]

Edge includes integration with Cortana and has extensions hosted on the Microsoft Store. Unlike Internet Explorer, Edge does not support the legacy ActiveX and BHO technologies.

Edge was initially built with Microsoft's own proprietary browser engine EdgeHTML and their Chakra JavaScript engine, a version now referred to as Microsoft Edge Legacy.[12] In 2019, Microsoft announced plans to rebuild the browser as Chromium-based[13][14] with Blink and V8 engines. During development (codenamed Anaheim), Microsoft made preview builds of Edge available on Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and macOS, in addition to Windows 10.[15] Microsoft announced the public release of the new Edge on January 15, 2020.[16] In June 2020, Microsoft began automatic rollout of the new version via Windows Update for Windows 7, 8.1, and Windows 10 versions from 1803 to 2004.[17]

Features

Microsoft Edge is the default web browser on Windows 10, Windows 10 Mobile and Xbox One consoles, replacing Internet Explorer 11 and Internet Explorer Mobile.[18] As its development and release is dependent on the model of Windows as a service, it is not included in Windows 10 Enterprise Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) builds.[19][20][21]

Microsoft initially announced that Edge would support the legacy Trident (MSHTML) layout engine for backwards compatibility, but later said that, due to "strong feedback," Edge would use a new engine, while Internet Explorer would continue to provide the legacy engine.[22]

Favorites, reading list, browsing history and downloads are viewed at the Hub,[23] a sidebar providing functionality similar to Internet Explorer's Downloads manager and Favorites Center.[24]

The browser includes an integrated Adobe Flash Player (with an internal whitelist allowing Flash applets on Facebook websites to load automatically, bypassing all other security controls requiring user activation)[25] and a PDF reader. It also supports asm.js.[26]

Edge does not support legacy technologies such as ActiveX and Browser Helper Objects, instead it uses an extension system.[5][27][28]

Internet Explorer 11 remains available alongside Edge on Windows 10 for compatibility; it remains identical to the Windows 8.1 version and does not use the Edge engine as was previously announced.[5][18][27]

Edge integrates with Microsoft's online platforms to provide voice control, search functionality and dynamic information related to searches within the address bar. Users can make annotations to web pages that can be stored to and shared with OneDrive,[29] and can save HTML and MHTML pages to their computers. It also integrates with the "Reading List" function and provides a "Reading Mode" that strips unnecessary formatting from pages to improve their legibility.[29]

Preliminary support for browser extensions was added in March 2016, with build 14291, three extensions were initially supported. Microsoft indicated that the delay in allowing extensions and the small number was due to security concerns.[30]

EdgeHTML

Microsoft Edge logo, used from 2015-2019.

EdgeHTML was the proprietary layout engine originally developed for Edge. It was a fork of Trident which removed all legacy code of older versions of Internet Explorer, with the majority of its source code rewritten to support web standards and interoperability with other modern browsers.[31][32] EdgeHTML was written in C++.[33]

The rendering engine was first released as an experimental option in Internet Explorer 11 as part of the Windows 10 Preview 9926 build.[34]

EdgeHTML was meant to be fully compatible with the WebKit layout engine used by Safari, Chrome and other browsers. Microsoft stated their original acceptance criteria: "Any Edge-WebKit differences are bugs that we're interested in fixing."[35]

A review of the engine in the beta Windows 10 build by AnandTech found substantial benchmark improvements over Trident, particularly JavaScript engine performance, which had come up to par with that of Google Chrome.[36] Other benchmarks focusing on the performance of the WebGL API found EdgeHTML to perform much better than Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.[37]

HTML5 standards

Edge originally lacked support for open media standards such as WebM and Opus, but these were later added in Edge 14.14291.[38] The EdgeHTML version of Microsoft Edge remains installed for compatibility reasons, but Windows will hide it (version 44.19041.1.0).[39]

As of August 2020, Edge 84 had scored 496/555 [40] on HTML5test.

Release strategy

Microsoft Edge legacy's release cadence was tied to the Windows 10 release cycle and used the Windows Insider Program to preview new versions of the browser. These pre-release builds were known as "Edge Preview." Every major release of Windows included an updated version of Edge and its render engine.

On April 8, 2019, Microsoft announced the introduction of four preview channels: Canary, Dev, Beta, and Stable and launched the Canary and Dev channel that same day with the first preview builds off the new Edge. Microsoft collectively calls the Canary, Dev, and Beta channels the "Microsoft Edge Insider Channels."[41] As a result, Edge updates were decoupled from new versions of Windows. Major versions for Edge Stable is now scheduled for release every 6 weeks, closely following Chromium version releases.

Development

Spartan (2014-2019)

In December 2014, writing for ZDNet, technology writer Mary Jo Foley reported that Microsoft was developing a new web browser codenamed "Spartan" for Windows 10. She said that "Spartan" would be treated as a new product separate from Internet Explorer, with Internet Explorer 11 retained alongside it for compatibility.[42]

In early January 2015, The Verge obtained further details surrounding "Spartan" from sources close to Microsoft, including reports that it would replace Internet Explorer on both the desktop and mobile versions of Windows 10.[43] Microsoft officially unveiled "Spartan" during a Windows 10-focused keynote on January 21, 2015.[29] It was described as a separate product from Internet Explorer, its final name was not announced.[44]

"Spartan" was first made publicly available as the default browser of Windows 10 Technical Preview build 10049, released on March 30, 2015.[45] The new engine used by "Spartan" was available in Windows 10 builds as part of Internet Explorer 11, Microsoft later announced that Internet Explorer would be deprecated on Windows 10 and would not use the "Spartan" engine.[18][46]

On April 29, 2015, during the Build Conference keynote, it was announced that "Spartan" would officially be known as Microsoft Edge.[47] The browser's logo and branding were designed to maintain continuity with the branding of Internet Explorer.[48] The Project "Spartan" branding was used in versions released after Build 2015. On June 25, 2015, Microsoft released version 19.10149 for Windows 10 Mobile which included the new brand. On June 28, 2015, version 20.10158 followed for the desktop versions, also including the updated branding. On July 15, 2015, Microsoft released version 20.10240 as the final release to Insiders. The same version was rolled out to consumers on July 29, 2015.

On August 12, 2015, Microsoft started the preview program for the next version of Microsoft Edge. They released version 20.10512 to Mobile users. 6 days later followed by version 20.10525 for desktop users. The preview received multiple updates. On November 5, 2015, Microsoft released version 25.10586 as the final release for Edge's second public release for desktop users. On November 12, the update was rolled out to both desktop users and Xbox One users as part of the New Xbox Experience Update. On November 18, 2015, the update was to Windows 10 Mobile. Finally, on November 19, 2015, the update was also made available as part of the Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 4.[]

In November 2017, Microsoft released ports of Edge for Android and iOS. The apps feature integration and synchronization with the desktop version on Windows 10 PCs. Due to platform restrictions and other factors, these ports do not use the same layout engine as the desktop version and instead use OS-native Webkit-based engines.[49][50][4]

In April 2018, Edge added tab audio muting.[51] In June 2018, support for the Web Authentication specifications were added to Windows Insider builds, with support for Windows Hello and external security tokens.[52][53]

Microsoft plans to provide security patches for legacy Microsoft Edge until March 9, 2021.[54]

Spartan release history

Legend: Old version, not maintained Older version, still maintained Current stable version Latest preview version Future release

Anaheim (2019-present)

On December 6, 2018, Microsoft announced its intent to base Edge on the Chromium source code, using the same rendering engine as Google Chrome but with enhancements developed by Microsoft. It was also announced that there will be versions of Edge available for Windows 7, Windows 8 and macOS, plus that all versions will be updated on a more frequent basis.[68][69] According to Microsoft executive Joe Belfiore, the decision for the change came after CEO Satya Nadella told the team in 2017 that the product needed to be better and pushed for replacing its in-house rendering engine with an open source one.[70]

A developer preview of Microsoft Edge version 74 on Windows

On April 8, 2019, the first of the new Edge for Windows were released to the public.[71]

A public preview of Microsoft Edge on macOS

On May 20, 2019, the first preview builds of Edge for macOS were released to the public, marking the first time in 13 years that a Microsoft browser was available on the Mac platform.[72] The last time a Microsoft browser was available on the Mac platform was Microsoft Internet Explorer for Mac, which was withdrawn in January 2006.

On June 18, 2019 IAmA post on Reddit, an Edge developer stated that it was theoretically possible for a Linux version to be developed in the future, but no work had actually started on that possibility.[73]

On June 19, 2019, Microsoft made Edge available on both Windows 7 and Windows 8 for testing.[74]

On August 20, 2019, Microsoft made its first beta build of Edge available for Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10 and macOS.[75]

August 2019 also saw the removal of support for the EPUB file format.[76] At Microsoft Ignite, Microsoft released an updated version of the Edge logo.[77]

The new Edge was released on January 15, 2020.[78][79]

On September 22, 2020, Microsoft announced that a beta version of Edge for Linux would be available in preview form in October 2020.[10] This comes after the company announced in November 2019 that a Linux version would be developed and confirmed in May 2020 that the Linux version was in development. [80][81] The first preview build for Linux was released on October 20, 2020.[11]

Support for the new Edge on Windows 7 will end in July 2021.[82]

Anaheim release history

Legend: Old version, not maintained Older version, still maintained Current stable version Latest preview version Future release

Performance

Early benchmarks of the EdgeHTML engine--included in the first beta release of Edge in Windows 10[91] Build 10049--had drastically better JavaScript performance than Trident 7 in Internet Explorer 11, with similar performance to Google Chrome 41 and Mozilla Firefox 37. In the SunSpider benchmark, Edge performed faster than other browsers,[92] while in other benchmarks it operated slower than Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Opera.[93]

Later benchmarks conducted with the version included in 10122 showed significant performance improvement compared to both IE11 and Edge back in 10049. According to Microsoft's benchmark result, this iteration of Edge performed better than both Chrome and Firefox in Google's Octane 2.0 and Apple's Jetstream benchmark.[94]

In July 2015, Edge scored 377 out of 555 points on the HTML5test. Chrome 44 and Firefox 42 scored 479 and 434 respectively, while Internet Explorer 11 scored 312.[95]

In August 2015, Microsoft released Windows 10 Build 10532 to insiders, which included Edge 21.10532.0. This beta version scored 445 out of 555 points on the HTML5test.[96]

In July 2016, with the release of Windows 10 Build 14390 to insiders, the HTML5test score of the browser's development version was 460 out of 555 points. Chrome 51 scored 497, Firefox 47 scored 456 and Safari 9.1 scored 370.[]

Power efficiency

In June 2016, Microsoft published benchmark results to prove superior power efficiency of Edge in comparison to all other major web browsers.[97] Opera questioned the accuracy and provided their own test results where Opera came out on top.[98] Independent testing by PC World confirmed Microsoft's results.[99] However, tests conducted by Linus Sebastian contradicted Microsoft's results, instead showing that Chrome has the best battery performance.[100]

Reception

In an August 2015 review of Windows 10 by Dan Grabham of TechRadar, Microsoft Edge was praised for its performance, despite not being in a feature-complete state at launch.[101] Andrew Cunningham of Ars Technica praised the browser for being "tremendously promising" and "a much better browser than Internet Explorer ever was" but criticized it for its lack of functionality on launch.[102] Thom Holwerda of OSNews criticized Edge in August 2015 for its hidden URL bar, lack of user friendliness, poor design and a tab system that is "so utterly broken it should never have shipped in a final release". He described the browser's implemented features as "some sort of cosmic joke", saying that "infuriating doesn't even begin to describe it."[103]

Data from August 2015, a few weeks after release, showed that user uptake of Edge was low, with only 2% of overall computer users using the new browser. Among Windows 10 users usage peaked at 20% and then dropped to 14% through August 2015.[104]

In October 2015, a security researcher published a report outlining a bug in Edge's "InPrivate" mode, causing data related to visited sites to still be cached in the user's profile directory, theoretically making it possible for others to determine sites visited. The bug gained mainstream attention in early February 2016,[105] and was fixed with a cumulative update on February 9, 2016.[106]

Microsoft's switch to Blink as Edge's engine has faced mixed reception. The move increases consistency of web platform compatibility between major browsers. For this reason, the move has attracted criticism, as it reduces diversity in the overall web browser market and increases the influence of Google (developer of the Blink layout engine) on the overall browser market by Microsoft ceding its independently developed browser engine.[107][108]

According to Douglas J Leith, a computer science professor from the Trinity College of Dublin, Ireland, Microsoft Edge is the least private browser. In response, a spokesperson from Microsoft Edge explained that it uses user diagnostic data to improve the product.[109]

In June 2020, users criticized newly released Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 updates that installed Edge and imported some user data from Chrome and Firefox prior to obtaining user permission. Microsoft responded stating that if a user rejects giving Edge data import permission, then Edge will delete the imported data. However, if the browser crashes before the user has a chance to reject the import, then the already imported data will not be cleared.[110][111] The Verge called these "spyware tactics" and called Edge's "first run experience" a "dark pattern".[112]

Market share

Desktop/laptop browser statistics
Google Chrome
69.53%
Microsoft Edge
9.71%
Mozilla Firefox
7.15%
Internet Explorer
4.53%
Safari
3.92%
Others
5.16%
Desktop web browser market share according to NetMarketShare for October 2020.[113]

According to StatCounter, in August 2019 Edge overtook the market share of Internet Explorer (IE) on PC, Edge in fourth place and IE in fifth. While IE's share dropped, no single version of Edge is more popular than Internet Explorer 11. The market share for Edge remains low, with IE following in this trend. Mobile versions of Edge exist for Android and iOS, however they have little to no market share. On Microsoft consoles, Edge replaced IE as the dominant browser a few months after its release in 2015.[114] Market share varies by region. On some days of the week, Edge takes second place with a 10.02% share in the US on PC, and Firefox and Edge have very similar share globally, switch places for second and third rank depending on the day.[115][116][117] For example in March 2020, Edge ranked the second with market share of 7.59%, overtaking Firefox, which had 7.19% of market share.[113]

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Further reading

External links


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