Chrome vs. Edge vs. Firefox: Which is the best browser for business?

With SaaS applications the new normal, the humble web browser powers the business world like never before. We take a deep dive on the three leading cross-platform browsers.

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In the pre-Chromium days of Edge, one of the browser’s many problems was how few extensions it had. By the time the new Chromium version of Edge was released, the old version had fewer than 300 extensions, not tens of thousands like Chrome and Firefox. The extension store for the old version of Edge has only about 265 of them as I write this.

With the move to Chromium, all that has changed. That’s because Edge can now use extensions built for Chrome. When the Chromium-based version of Edge was released, Microsoft warned people that some Chrome extensions might not work on Edge, notably those that rely on Google account functionality to sign in or sync data or those that rely on companion software on your PC. However, I’ve been using the Chromium version of Edge since its introduction in mid-January of 2020 and haven’t come across a single one that didn’t work, including multiple add-ons that require signing into a Google account.

Microsoft has an extension store for the Chromium version of Edge. Get to it by clicking the three-dot icon at the top right of Edge, selecting Extensions and clicking Get extensions for Microsoft Edge. The Edge Add-ons store doesn’t have nearly as many extensions as the Chrome Web Store. But that’s no problem, because you can also install extensions into Edge directly from the Chrome Web Store.

Go to the Chrome Web Store and select Allow extensions from other stores on the banner at the top of the screen. If that banner doesn’t appear and you can’t download extensions, you can click the three-dot icon at the top right of Edge, select Extensions and move the slider from off to on next to Allow extensions from other stores at the bottom left of the screen.

Unlike Chrome, Edge shows each extension’s icon at the top right of the screen. As with Chrome, click any add-on’s icon to manage, uninstall or select what features you want to use. You can also manage and remove them by clicking the three-dot icon at the top right of Edge and selecting Extensions. As with Chrome, from here you can disable and enable extensions as well.

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Edge’s screen for managing extensions.


There’s a dearth of publicly available statistics about how many extensions Firefox has, but back in late 2017 a blog post from Mozilla, the nonprofit in charge of Firefox, said there were more than 6,000 of them. It’s unlikely that Firefox has come close to catching up to Chrome (and Edge) in the intervening three years.

But the extension ecosystem shouldn’t be judged on sheer numbers. It’s quality that counts. And based on that, Firefox stacks up well to the Chrome extension ecosystem, even if it’s not quite as rich.

I checked many useful, well-known productivity-related extensions available for Chrome and found that almost every one of them is available on Firefox, including the organizer Todoist, Evernote web clipper, Ghostery and AdBlock ad blockers, Zoom Scheduler, Grammarly grammar checker, LastPass password manager, Airstory research and citation tool, Checker Plus for Gmail email enhancer, and the developer tool Scrum for Trello.

However, there were some good Chrome productivity extensions missing from Firefox, including DocuSign eSignature for signing contracts, invoices, and other documents, as well as the Office extension that lets you use Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Sway Online without having Office installed. Firefox also doesn’t have an extension for Google Drive Opener, which lets you open and create Google Docs files from within your browser.

You add Firefox extensions in much the same way you do in Chrome and Edge. Browse or search the Firefox Browser Add-Ons store, then when you’re reading a description of an extension, click the Add to Firefox button. You’ll get a notification of what permissions to your PC you need to give. Click Add, and it installs. Each is available as an icon on the upper right of Firefox. Click any extension to use it, or right-click it to change its options or uninstall it.

You can also click the hamburger menu on the top right of Firefox and select Add-ons. From here you can see all your extensions, move the slider next to any of them to disable or enable it, or click the three-dot icon to uninstall it, update it, report any issues with it, or manage its permissions.

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Managing Firefox’s extensions.

The best browsers for extensions

Chrome and Edge have a more comprehensive extensions ecosystem than Firefox, although Firefox offers a very solid selection. In theory, some Chrome extensions might not run in Edge, although I’ve yet to come across one or hear of one that doesn’t work. So I’ll rate Chrome and Edge a tie in this category.

Syncing across multiple devices and platforms

We live in a business world in which we use multiple devices — desktop PCs and laptops running Windows and macOS, as well as smartphones and tablets running iOS and Android. We want our browser settings, favorites, passwords, and other data to be the same and sync on any device.

So I tested how well each browser synced data on two Windows PCs, a Mac, and Android and iOS devices.


Chrome does a superb job not just of syncing data across all of your devices, but giving you a great deal of control over what gets synced. So you can sync data on some devices and not others. And you can customize exactly what gets synced.

To do all that, you’ll need to have a Google account and sign into it on Chrome. Once you do that, click the three-dot icon at the top right of your screen and select Settings > Sync and Google services. You’ll come to the Sync and Google services page that gives you thorough control over syncing. It lets you manage what you sync, review your synced data, and encrypt your synced data.

Click Manage what you sync and you’ll come to the full list, including apps, bookmarks, extensions, history, browser settings, themes, open tabs, passwords, addresses and phone numbers and payment methods for Google Pay. To sync them all, select Sync everything. To fine-tune it, click Customize sync and move the slider to off next to what you don’t want to sync.

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Managing what you can sync in Chrome.

Back on the Sync and Google services page, click Review your synced data, and you’ll see the total number of pieces of data you’ve synced for each category — for example, 11 extensions, 489 settings, 610 passwords, and so on. However, you won’t actually see the data itself, just the totals by category. To find the data, you’ll have to spend a fair amount of time clicking around Chrome Settings, for example to count all your extensions, count all your passwords, and so on.

As for how good a job it does of syncing, there’s not much to say other than it works without a hitch. I didn’t encounter a single syncing problem. The data showed up on all devices I wanted it to and didn’t show up on devices I didn’t want it to.


Edge doesn’t come up to Chrome’s standards when it comes to syncing data. First, the good news: It’s easy to sync data across all your devices. You’ll need a Microsoft account. Sign in, and then click the three-dot icon at the top right of Edge and select Settings > Sync. Click Turn On Sync to sync your data to other devices using Edge.

You can then choose which data to sync, including favorites, settings, addresses and contact information, passwords, extensions, and collections. (We’ll have more information about Collections in the Extras section of this article.) When you’ve made your selections, click Confirm.

Note that you can’t sync your browsing history or open tabs. Microsoft says the ability to do that is “coming soon,” but hasn’t committed to a specific date.

There are other drawbacks as well. You can’t see the amount of data being synced by category as you can with Chrome. You can’t encrypt the data being synced as Chrome does, either. Neither of these are deal-breakers. But they would be nice to have.

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Edge’s syncing works well, but you can’t yet sync your open tabs and browsing history.

As with Chrome, my Edge data synced without a hitch.


Syncing with Firefox can be a confusing experience. Sign into your Firefox account (you can create one on the same web page), and you’re automatically set up to sync. But it’s not clear how to stop syncing. There is a way to do it if you dig deeply enough, though.

First, get to sync options by clicking the hamburger menu icon on the upper-right of your screen and select Options > Sync in Windows or Preferences > Sync in macOS. In the box labeled “You are currently syncing these items,” click Change. On the screen that appears, select Disconnect. That will stop the syncing on your current device, although syncing will continue on other devices in which you’re using Firefox and have signed into your account, so you’ll have to disconnect each of those devices too. That’s a lot of work to accomplish a simple task.

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Syncing your data in Firefox can turn into a confusing experience.

Also confusing is what happens when you install Firefox on another device. When I installed it on a Mac, a tab opened up asking if I want to connect to another device. I was instructed to “Open the scanner on your Firefox app and show code when ready.” There was a “Show code” button that when clicked on showed a bar code.

But my Mac doesn’t include any kind of scanner. But what does scanning a bar code have to do with syncing my data? Nothing, apparently. I ignored the message, and then when I signed into my Firefox account, all my data synced.

You do have a choice of what data to sync. From the Sync options page, you’re shown what data you’re currently syncing. These include bookmarks, logins and passwords, history, add-ons, open tabs, and options (preferences in macOS) by default. Click Change to see everything you can sync and to turn sync on and off for different categories of data. You can sync all those, plus addresses and credit cards.

The best browser for syncing

Chrome is the winner here. It has more syncing options that either Edge or Firefox. Edge and Firefox are tied for second. Firefox lets you sync more types of data, but it can be a hot mess to use until you get used to it.


Browsers these days aren’t chock full of extra, proprietary features as they were in years past, with features like being able to mark up websites and share that with others. And that’s a good thing, because most of those extras tended to weigh down the browser, make for a confusing interface, and not add a lot of extra value.

Still, today’s browsers do have a few worthy extras. Here are the best in Chrome, Edge, and Firefox.


Google has taken a less-is-more approach to browser design in Chrome, and likely because of that, there aren’t a surplus of notable extras in the browser. What you see is largely what you get.

That being said, there are some good extras. Foremost is the ability to do Chromecasting — “cast” whatever is on your screen to a TV or other device with a Chromecast stick attached to it. That lets you watch streaming media on your TV rather than a computer. Edge doesn’t include this same capability built into it, although you can install an add-on that will let you do the casting. In Firefox, you’ll have to try some serious workarounds that aren’t particularly simple to do, such as running an Android emulation on your PC or Mac, running Firefox inside that emulator, and then making changes to Firefox’s config file. Good luck with that.

Chrome’s password manager has one nice extra: It can generate strong passwords for you. And Chrome’s search/address bar, called Omnibox, can deliver what Google calls “rich results” that will provide answers for a search in a dropdown box rather than having to launch the search and then browse through a web page.

However, I found that feature less than compelling. Yes, it can give you sports scores (try “nba scores” or “celtics score”). And it can add numbers. But you’ll often have to use very specific syntax to find an answer to your question. For example, to find the name of a state capital — let’s say Massachusetts — you have to type “massachusetts state capital.” If you only type in “massachusetts capital,” the Omnibox will try to autocomplete the phrase rather than showing you the result.

Also useful is Chrome’s built-in media player. It lets you stop and start videos and audio, jump to the next or previous track, and play the media in its own window. Especially nice is that you can control all media in all tabs simultaneously with the player. On the downside, it doesn’t let you control the volume. To get to the controller, click the small music-note icon that appears to the right of the address bar when you go to a web page and start to play music, video, or other sound.

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Chrome’s media controller lets you play all media in your open tabs, including stopping, starting, and more.


Edge has what I believe to be the best single feature offered in a browser: Collections. It lets you gather web pages, images and portions of web pages into a sidebar and organize them by categories. You can also add notes to each of your collections and send them to Excel, OneNote, Word, or Pinterest. I’ve found it to be an incredible productivity-booster, and I use it constantly throughout my working day.

To use it, click the Collections icon, a + sign inside what appear to be folders or documents, at the top right of the screen. The Collections pane opens on the right as a sidebar. The first time you use Collections, it will automatically start a new collection for you. Select “New collection” at the top of the pane and type in a name. On return visits, click the + Start new collection link and type in its name.

To add the web page you’re on to the collection, click Add Current Page. You can drag images to the collection to add them, as well as selecting text or sections of web pages and dragging them to the collection. If you have multiple collections, you can drag images or selections to any collection in the main Collections list.

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Edge’s Collections capability is the single best extra feature I found.

To add a note, click the note icon in any collection. You can change the text formatting of any note, as well as add images to it.

You can also add web pages to a collection without actually opening the Collections pane — just right-click on a neutral area of the page and in the pop-up menu that appears, select Add Page to Collections and choose the collection you want to add it to or start a new one. You can add images and selected text to a collection using the right-click menu as well.

How might you use Collections? In just about any way possible. You can set up different collections for each of your projects and store web-based research there. You can set up collections for your budgets, for marketing research, for just about anything to do with your work.

You can also easily delete collections so that you don’t get overwhelmed by your research. It’s so easy to create collections you’ll probably find yourself creating them even just for a day or two for short-term research and then deleting them.


The most notable built-in extra in Firefox is Pocket, which lets you save web pages, articles, and videos so you can review them later. To use it, click the small Pocket icon just to the left of the bookmarks icon in the address bar. If you don’t yet have a Pocket account, you’ll be able to sign up for one. Once you have an account, click the Save to Pocket icon (a shield) whenever you’re on a web page you want to save. You can also send a URL via email to have a page added to Pocket.

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Firefox’s Pocket lets you save web pages, articles, and videos for later viewing.

To view items you’ve saved to Pocket, click the hamburger menu icon at the top right of the screen and select Library > View Pocket List. Your Pocket List opens in a new tab.

You can add tags to any item you save to make it easier to organize things. You can search across everything you’ve saved, mark some as favorites, highlight some, and so on. You can archive items so they show up only when you look through your archives. Because all this is available on mobile devices as well as desktops and laptops, all the information is with you wherever you go.

I didn’t find Pocket as useful as Collections. It’s a little more awkward  to use, and unlike Collections, your Pocket content isn’t visible in a sidebar, so you can’t view it while you’re web browsing. You can pin your Pocket List tab so it’s always available among your tabs, but that still requires an additional click and takes your focus away from the content you’re viewing. That additional step may be enough to put you off using it. And although you can use tags as a way to organize your content, doing that can be time-consuming and require you to redo tags if you decide to reorganize things. The organization of Collections is much more straightforward.

The best browser for extras

If you use the web for research, you’ll find Collections in Edge the best extra you get in the three browsers. Although Firefox’s Pocket tool is useful, because of its design, you may not use it as much as Edge’s more straightforward Collections feature. As for Chrome, Chromecasting is the most important extra you’ll really care about — and it’s available in Edge via an add-on, so Edge is the clear winner here.

Enterprise features

In businesses, a browser isn’t a standalone piece of software. It’s an essential part of any company’s suite of productivity tools. So in this section we look at the things IT needs to know about each browser, including deployment, management, links to other productivity software, and more.


Chrome relies, to some extent, on enterprises using tools from companies other than Google (notably Microsoft) for deployment and management. Google does, however, have its own tools as well. These are the most important kinds of tools businesses can use to manage Chrome:

  • Microsoft Group Policy. This is for businesses that use Group Policy as their primary method of managing their applications. You use group policy to manage Chrome as you would any other application.
  • Chrome Browser Cloud Management. This free tool lets IT enroll and manage Chrome across Windows, macOS, and Linux using the same Google Admin console as G Suite/Google Workspace and Chrome OS management. It offers information for troubleshooting and insights about how Chrome is used, with details such as device types, OS version, browser version, installed extensions and policies applied per browser. Go here to get details and to use it.
  • Third-party management tools. These include Intune from Microsoft, as well as VMware Workspace One and Jamf.

With all these tools, enterprises can control permissions for browser use, such as for installing extensions. They can be based on, for example, on identity and organization units, as well as applied on a site-by-site basis. The tools also allow for the creation of block lists and allow lists for sites, apps, and content types.

Enterprises can use their normal software distribution tool for creating browser images to deploy across the enterprise. Google has an MSI available at As for browser updates, Google recommends that enterprises keep Chrome’s auto update turned on so that it happens automatically, although it can also be managed via the tools mentioned above.

There’s also some integration between Chrome and G Suite/Google Workspace, notably allowing employees to search through their company’s Drive folders from the Chrome search box.


Microsoft offers a wealth of tools for deploying, managing and controlling browser use, far more than can be covered here. For a start, there’s Microsoft Group Policy and Intune. But that’s just the beginning. Office 365 customers can use Microsoft Endpoint Manager, which can configure more than 250 policies. FastTrack offers remote deployment guidance, compatibility assistance, configuration advice, and more. There are also plenty of self-guided videos for helping with deployment and configuration on Microsoft Mechanics on YouTube.

For controlling permissions for Edge, including extension use, enterprises can use Azure Active Directory and Azure AD Conditional Access. That includes not just blocking extensions, but also installing extensions automatically enterprise-wide and making sure they can’t be uninstalled. For details, see this document.

There are also many security tools for Edge for enterprises, including Microsoft Security Baselines in the Microsoft Security Compliance Toolkit. Microsoft also has a wide variety of tools for deploying Edge and then configuring or restricting updates using Microsoft Edge Update policies.

There are quite a few links between Edge and Office 365/Microsoft 365, including using Edge and Microsoft’s search engine Bing to do enterprise-wide searches. Edge can also be configured to show you all the Office files you’ve been recently using when you open a new tab. It can also recommend files you might want to open, based on your recent usage. See more details about using Edge and Bing in concert with Office 365/Microsoft 365 in enterprises.

Those are just the highlights. There’s plenty more as well.


Firefox relies on two Microsoft tools for managing enterprise Windows browser use: Group Policy and Intune. For macOS it uses Configuration Profiles. For Linux, it uses a JSON-based configuration. For installations, it provides MSIs for Windows installations and PKG files for macOS.

Firefox has more than 80 policies available for configuration. Enterprises can check out Firefox’s enterprise documentation for help, as well as its policy templates repository on GitHub.

Firefox doesn’t match either Edge or Chrome for enterprise controls. And there’s also a wild card that enterprises might consider: Firefox’s long-term financial future. If Google loses the government’s antitrust suit, the Mozilla Foundation, which develops Firefox, could have very serious money woes. Google pays Mozilla to set Google as Firefox’s default engine. Reports say the two organizations recently inked a deal for 2021 to 2023 for payments of an estimated $400 to $450 million a year, expected to be 90% of Mozilla’s revenue. The government is targeting those kinds of payments, and if it wins the suit, it may outlaw them. What might happens to Mozilla’s development of Firefox after that is unclear.

The best browser for enterprise features

Edge comes up big here. It has the most robust set of management tools for enterprises by a mile. Both Chrome and Firefox rely on some of those tools.

Chrome comes in second, because it has several tools of its own. But Firefox is a dismal third. It relies solely on third-party tools, notably Microsoft’s. And it’s not clear what will happen to the browser if the federal antitrust suit succeeds against Google.

The best browser for business

So which browser is best for your business? Chrome and Edge are faster and use fewer system resources than Firefox, are more HTML-compliant, offer cleaner interfaces and easier syncing, and have far more tools for enterprise management. Firefox does, however, offer strong privacy features — as does Edge, while Chrome trails behind.

For these reasons, Edge is the best choice for most businesses. Organizations that may have ruled out the pre-Chromium version of the browser should give the new Edge a second look. They may well be pleasantly surprised.

Edge came in either first or second in every category in our roundup and clearly offers the best enterprise tools. The browser’s tracker blocking will especially be welcomed by those who value their privacy. If you’re a Microsoft customer already using Microsoft management and deployment tools, Office 365/Microsoft 365, and/or other software, choosing Edge is a no-brainer.

However, Chrome is a better choice than Edge for some organizations. If you use G Suite/Google Workspace, you’ll want to go with Chrome, because you’ll be able to manage all your Google software from a common console.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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