When browsing through a few of my favorite tech sites this week I came across an article that screamed “clickbait.” You know clickbait, those articles that usually start off with an outlandish claim only to fail to deliver a tenth of the shock and awe the headline promised.
Normally I scroll right on past these headlines without a second glance but this one stood out for two reasons. One, it was on a website that I trusted, and two, the claim was absolutely ridiculous. Essentially, the headline was telling me to drop Google Chrome and switch to Microsoft Edge.
For those not in the know, Microsoft Edge is the company’s replacement for its much-maligned Internet Explorer web browser. Explorer was both a punching bag and a legitimately bad browser for years. And now this website I trust was telling me to drop my beloved Chrome and switch back to Explorer’s younger brother?
That’s what I thought at first, but then I read the article and found that the writer was making some good points. So I chose to test the theory for myself. To, in essence, take the bait. So I installed Microsoft Edge on my personal laptop and ran a few tests. My findings were…interesting, to say the least.
Google Chrome has been my go-to browser for at least a decade. I flip-flopped back and forth between Firefox and Chrome until about 2011 when I decided to stick with Chrome and never look back. And Chrome has served me well. It integrates with Google’s full range of products, it’s fast and the Chromium infrastructure is a powerful one.
So, what could Microsoft’s new offering really give me? Well, for starters, some privacy. I’ve written a lot about online privacy in this column. To sum it all up, it doesn’t exist. But, there are some things you can do to mitigate how much of your information you are giving away to online outfits. Microsoft Edge actually has some decent privacy options to choose from including the option to block almost all web trackers.
To be fair, Chrome does allow you to block some trackers, but the way to get there is nowhere near as intuitive as Edge’s simple three-block choice system. Another big thing Edge has going for it, which is a bit of a double-edged sword in this case, is that it isn’t made by Google. Google has been notorious for tracking, collecting and selling its user’s data. And while Microsoft won’t win any privacy contests, they aren’t as dedicated to it as Google has been over the years. But this also means Edge doesn’t integrate seamlessly with all of Google’s products.
My big concern, though, was speed. Explorer was worthless on the modern internet, that’s the whole reason I switched browsers in the first place. I was skeptical that Edge could match Chrome’s speed, but here again I was proven wrong. Edge can hold its own against Chrome. Not only that, but the browser doesn’t eat up nearly as much RAM or CPU space as Chrome, which has been a notorious memory suck for years.
The reason Edge is able to keep up with Chrome is because it is built on the same Chromium infrastructure as Google’s browser. Which makes it a viable competitor in and of itself. Throw in the fact that you’ll have more memory free on your computer with multiple tabs open in edge than you will in Chrome, and I’m almost convinced to make the switch permanent.
Almost. Unfortunately, switching browsers when you are as “online” as I am can be difficult. Chrome is signed in across all of my devices and stores all of my saved passwords and bookmarks. So maybe, if I have some free time one of these days, I’ll make the leap to Edge. But until then, I’ll definitely start recommending it to friends.