Windows 10 users back away from the Edge

Another metrics vendor weighs in with data, shows Edge run by just 12% of Windows 10 users in the U.S.

Microsoft's new Edge browser has been largely ignored by U.S. users of Windows 10, an online measurement company said Monday.

Instead, Google's Chrome has shanghaied Windows 10's top browser spot.

Although Edge -- the default browser bundled with Windows 10 -- got a temporary boost when the operating system launched in late July, its share of all browsers on the OS quickly slipped from an early peak of about 16% to its current 12%.

According to San Francisco-based Quantcast, Chrome is the dominant browser on Windows 10 in the U.S., with a share slightly north of 70%.

quantcast win10 browsers

Edge's portion of the total Windows 10 browser share (blue line) spiked when the new OS launched in late July, but declined soon after to hover around the 12% mark. Google's Chrome (red line) remained the top browser dog on Windows 10. 

Quantcast measures Web traffic at more than 100 million websites, primarily those in the U.S., to deliver audience and advertising data to brands and publishers. Like most analytics vendors, Quantcast can mine that data to break out browser and OS usage based on website visitors and page views.

In a Monday blog, Quantcast software engineer Jackson Newhouse said that Edge had failed to dislodge Chrome from its dominant spot. Slightly more than 70% of the browser activity originating from Windows 10 was due to Chrome, an even higher percentage than on Windows 7 and Windows 8, where Google's browser accounted for approximately 63% of all activity.

While the raw number of Edge's users has certainly grown as Windows 10's share has climbed -- currently, more than 15% of all Quantcast's Windows traffic comes from the new OS -- Edge's fraction of that increasing number has remained static.

Mozilla's Firefox accounts for more browsing activity on Windows 10 than does Edge. Meanwhile, Internet Explorer (IE) -- -- has a tiny share of less than 5% on Windows 10. IE has been demoted to a supporting role on Windows 10 as an alternative when it's necessary to access sites and Web apps written for that aged browser.

Quantcast's data echoed figures provided by other metrics companies, including U.S.-based Net Applications and Ireland's StatCounter, both which track Edge and other browsers.

The latest numbers from StatCounter, for example, pegged Edge as accounting for about 18% of the browser activity generated by Windows 10 in the U.S. during September. StatCounter's global measurement of Edge as a percentage of all Windows 10 browsers was a slightly lower 16%.

Net Applications, which tracks user share by tallying unique visitors -- a proxy for the number of devices running any given browser -- said that Edge represented a much more impressive 36% of the browsers run from Windows 10 in September worldwide. But that was down from 39% in August, a worrying trend for Microsoft.

It's surprising the Edge has not captured a larger segment of the Windows 10 browser space. Not only is Edge the out-of-the-box default for Windows 10, but it has also been promoted by Microsoft during 10's upgrade setup. Unless the user intervenes, an upgrade from Windows 7 or 8.1 will swap in Edge for rival browsers as the default.

Some have speculated that Edge's lackluster performance may be due to its unfinished status. The browser currently lacks support for add-ons, for instance, although Microsoft has promised to provide that support this year. Others, including Computerworld readers of earlier news stories about Edge, have more fundamental complaints.

"I found it buggy and [it] did not work well on some sites," said John Scott in an email to Computerworld last month. "[But] when it worked it was fast."

"[Because] the new Edge would not let me cut-and-paste as IE will, I changed back to IE11," added Ron Sereg in another email.

On Microsoft's own support forum, the largest discussion threads related to Edge are about the browser's lack of a "Save As" function -- a basic-to-browsers feature for saving a copy of the current page -- problems accessing sites, and its habit of freezing.

Teething problems with a new application are not new, of course, but the negative first impression, as evidenced by third-party data like Quantcast's, is something Microsoft could have done without. It's trying to ramp up adoption of Edge -- and thus the in-Edge-default of the Bing search engine -- as an important part of its Windows 10 monetization strategy.

Like other browser makers, Microsoft strives for a large share to reap revenue from search advertising. IE and Edge, of course, default to Bing, Chrome defaults to Google, and Firefox to Yahoo in North America.

If sustained, Edge's lack of traction on Windows 10 -- along with a massive slide in IE's numbers over the last nine months, likely due to the August 2014 edict that requires Windows 7 and Windows 8 users to upgrade to IE11 by January 2016 -- will translate into less revenue for Bing.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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