Before I start my rant about Microsoft Edge, let me be clear about my testing process. Like most people, I’ve had access to the full Windows 10 release for all of about a week. In that time, I’ve used the new Edge browser almost exclusively in a few different locations (to test Wi-Fi access) and with a few different laptops (like the HP Elite x2 I'm using now). I’m working on what will be a full review of the operating system itself, but I can give you this word of caution: Be careful before you jump on the Edge.
Now, here’s another caveat. I have not tested 14 million sites and I haven’t even tried to run through a battery of tests that includes all of the Microsoft online products. I’m mostly a Gmail and Google Drive user, but I tend to fly out to hundreds of sites per day with lightning speed. Tabs were popping up everywhere during the last week, so I can say the browser has had every opportunity to impress me with its compatibility, speed and reliability.
The first thing I noticed almost right away is that it isn’t that compatible, fast or reliable. Ironically, I have not seen any outright crashes, and a few of the “gotchas” are actually design flaws that are really annoying and, in some ways, could be called bugs. Let’s start with those.
I hate that, when you create a new tab, you see the search bar mid screen. What were they thinking? (Probably this: Don't copy Chrome.) Still, it’s really odd that you don’t see the URL. The search bar basically is the URL bar. If I type Computerworld.com in the search, up pops that site. Am I searching for that URL or going to that URL? The answer is obviously both. You can also click in a gray space where the URL bar should be and it suddenly goes white so you can start typing.
My primary app during the day is Gmail, and it is not working quite right. Microsoft Edge tends to freeze when I click on the drop-down to select a label. I’m not a conspiracy theorist or I’d wonder if this were intentional. In most cases, the browser just sits there. Nothing. A few seconds later, the drop-down appears. Emails fail to open. I went through my typical sites — SproutSocial.com, Google Drive, Facebook and a few others — and they all worked, but there were some obvious speed issues. My guess is that Microsoft needs to refine the back-end processing for rich sites. Meaning, there seems to be a lag on complex sites that really should be faster. One of the richest sites I know, IGN.com, pops up fast enough at first, but has a weird lag. Note that this lag is not related to the connection, because Chrome running on the same laptop sprinted just fine.
I’m not sure I like Bing search too much. I’ve tested it at various times and even lived with it for a few months once. In Edge, a few of my searches were disappointing. If you search for “Adobe Photoshop CS6 Trial,” you have to weed through some junk links and ads. The link you want is not even listed. On Google.com, it comes right up.
My second most used site is Google Drive. Editing and writing worked fine, but for some reason, the basic Copy and Paste commands (with CTRL keys or through the Edit menu) didn’t work. That’s perplexing. Microsoft has a browser that doesn’t support Copy Paste for doc editing. That's a bit of a killjoy.
Other things just “bugged” me a little. A few sites, like Google Drive, didn’t show an icon in the tab. The browser just seems jumpy at times, as though you are driving a Porsche that is plagued by some bad fuel. I saw the dreaded spinning circle of death (if you know the proper term, good for you) a few times where the Edge app just decided to think about something for a while. The screen flashes when you close a separate Edge window. Then again, the screen flashes oddly in other apps, too — including Google Chrome. It seems like a Windows 10 glitch.
I’m not giving up quite yet. I like the minimalistic design. The browser seems light and agile, and the bugs do not seem insurmountable. I didn’t lose any work. Edge is on the right path, and I give Microsoft huge cred for killing IE. Hopefully, Microsoft can fix a few things before I switch back to Chrome for good.
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