Is Microsoft Edge ready for prime time?

With the upcoming Windows 10 Spring Creators Update, Microsoft has yet again put a lot of effort into building out its Edge web browser for Windows 10. This upcoming release includes new performance improvements, stability enhancements, an updated UI with Fluent Design, and even PWA service worker support. Microsoft has been building up and improving Edge with every Windows 10 release since 2015, and the Spring Creators Update version is the best yet. But, is it ready for prime time?

I've been using Microsoft Edge as my default web browser since it first made its debut with the original release of Windows 10 back in 2015. Back then, Edge was really rough. It was, for lack of a better term, unfinished. It was missing lots of features that many expect to find in a modern browser, including extension support, and the ability to sync bookmarks and passwords between devices, including your phone. It was also rather unstable and slow.

In 2018, Edge has all of these things, but I personally think that shipping Microsoft Edge with the original Windows 10 launch edition was a bad idea. First impressions count, and it was evident that Microsoft Edge was not ready for public consumption when it launched. That bad first impression set Edge on the course that it is today; in use by basically no one. It's not like Edge hasn't improved since then, because it has, but has it improved enough? And if it has, will people even be willing to give it a second chance?

What's improved in Edge?

With the upcoming release of Windows 10, Microsoft Edge is a lot better. While still not featuring 'everything' the likes of Google Chrome might have feature wise, it has all the basics nailed. It has an excellent UI, one that I'd argue is better than what rivals have to offer, and is super fast to load up and open web pages. Extensions support is here and is working nicely albeit with a smaller marketplace of extensions to choose from.

Microsoft has spent a lot of time improving the performance and stability of Microsoft Edge. The browser doesn't crash nearly as often as it used to, at least for me. I'd say Edge and Chrome crash as often as each other now, often being "not very often at all." This is in stark contrast to how Edge used to behave, crashing or hanging at least once a day. Edge just feels lighter than Chrome or Firefox, and I really like that about the browser.

Microsoft has also redesigned the hub area now, making it way more approachable for those coming from other browsers. It slides out from the right, with a big pane that lets you see things like favorites, bookmarks, downloads, and reading list. It also now has an excellent EPUB/book reader and PDF reader, something that comes in handy more often than you'd think.

Best Microsoft Edge extensions

There's also "Set tabs aside," a feature I'm personally not a fan of. It works great, if it's something you'd find useful. You can save an entire browsing session for later, cleaning up your current open tabs and grouping them in a menu that you can resume at any time. This is great for students who might be working on an essay and doing research. Instead of bookmarking each tab for later, you can just save the entire session and restore it whenever needed.

Then there are the smaller improvements. Tabs now behave properly when you drag them in and out of windows. When you open a new tab, the bookmarks bar shows up just like it does in Google Chrome. You've also got all the under the hood improvements, allowing for Edge to support more web-based technologies. It's also faster, and an overall better experience to use. It's also really good for battery life.

What's hasn't improved in Edge?

While Edge has come a long way, it's still not perfect. For example, it's still missing little things that you just come to expect in a web browser these days, such as options. The Set tabs aside feature that I mentioned cannot be turned off or hidden, even if it's something you don't want or use. You also can't unpin some of the default icons in the navigation bar at the top, including Windows Ink and the Share icon. I don't use these icons, so why are they taking up space up there?

You also can't search through your browsing history from within Edge. You can do this in basically every other browser, but Edge seems to have this feature omitted. You can search your browsing history via Timeline, however, but if you're not using Timeline, then that's not going to be helpful to you. There's also no way to quickly launch a frequently visited website when right-clicking the Edge icon.

When it comes to PWA's and pinning websites, you can't yet pin websites without the Edge UI being present. In Chrome, for example, you can pin a PWA to the desktop, and have that PWA open in a window that doesn't include the Chrome UI, making for a seamless, native experience. With Edge, the Edge UI, with its address bar and tabs, still loads even if you pinned the PWA to your desktop. This is a super jarring experience for me.

Another oddity with Edge is, funnily enough, related to performance. While performance and stability have been much improved, there are still websites out there that simply grind Edge to a halt. A lot of those websites are Google related, such as YouTube or Gmail. For some reason, Edge performance is really bad when it comes to loading a YouTube webpage. Microsoft is aware of the issue and says it's on Google to get it fixed, which is unfortunate really.

Is Edge ready for prime time?

With all these improvements, is Microsoft Edge finally ready to be your next web browser? Well, it'll depend on who you are. For your average Joe, I think Edge is a more than capable browser now. It has all the basics covered and is super simple to use. The only problem is with the performance of Edge when it comes to loading some websites, specifically some Google sites. This is a serious problem that needs to be solved before people take Edge seriously.

If I'm honest, this issue alone is reason enough to not recommend Edge. A lot of people visit YouTube every day, and they likely won't want to do so on Edge because of how poorly that website performs. Microsoft needs to fix the issues it has with Google before Edge can be recommended as a default browser for most people.

If you're not someone who visits YouTube or other poorly optimized sites, then Edge is great, unless you're a power user of Chrome or another browser. Chrome has a lot of little things that you'd likely miss when switching to Edge. At that point, it comes down to breaking old habits. Each browser is slightly different, after all, so Edge is never going to be 1:1 to Chrome. Edge does need to add a few little things still, such as the ability to unpin icons from the navigation bar and search your history, but other than that, Edge is pretty good.

A the end of the day, I say give it a go. Close down your current default browser, head to Edge, and try it out for a week. I think a lot of people will be surprised at how much Edge has improved over the last few releases, especially with the upcoming Spring Creators Update.

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

158 Comments
  • I'm not sure what planet you guys are on, but here on Earth, I find Edge to be almost unusable. My laptop has 8GB of RAM and I have the Fall Creator's Update. Full disclosure: I usually open Edge when I already have Firefox open (with about 4 tabs and 8 pinned tabs), Spotify and maybe Nextgen Reader, so it's not like I'm giving Edge the full gamut of RAM to use, but even so, to me it's unusable. Here's what happened a couple days ago when I opened it. I had had only 1 open page the last time I closed it (and no pinned tabs), so it had to reload that single page. I killed that before it finished reloading and clicked a link to open a different web page. It spun its wheel for about 45 seconds and then unceremoniously crashed. This was not unexpected. ALL of the UWP-based apps crash on a regular basis: Mail app, Store app, etc. I think the better question is: Is UWP ready for prime-time? Clearly, the answer is NO. Until they get that working right, Edge will never work right...
  • By all means give it a go. But it isn't ready. Not compared to Chrome which is a shame. Why is it taking so long ? It is my default browser but I keep having to open Chrome.
  • Just ditch Chrome and switch to Opera.
  • Both are under same Google Chromium engine.
  • Yet both are wildly different in UI, features, design, speed and resource management
  • Considering the Chinese government now owns the Opera browser, you should totally make the switch. Everything you love about Chrome but instead of giving your data to Google you can give it to the Chinese.
  • There's always Vivaldi.
  • I love Opera!!!
  • The question should be "Is Edge ready to provide the best, most up to date feature support for Progressive Web Apps?""... Because, devices like Andromeda devices will seriously need it to be as good, if not better, than it's competitors, when it comes to application protocol.
  • Exactly. Progressive Web Apps are the future, particularly on mobile devices like Surface Scribe.
  • 😂😂😂😂😂
  • If Andomeda has competitors, Microsoft shouldn't even bother. They need something new and revolutionary. Something we have never seen before. If it is reliant on PWA in 2018, it will certainly go no-where. Basically, Microsoft releasing another Windows Phone would be rediculous. Whatever they release needs to be mind blowing.
  • Agree
  • If you are running Windows RTM or maybe even 1511 update, your post would potentially be accurate. However, since the Anniversary 1607 update forward, UWP is REALLY stable, and Edge is REALLY stable. As even Zac mentions for him, it is as Stable as Chrome, and for myself it is even more stable. The stuff you are describing would lead me to diagnose your system with either hardware issues or a very messed up Windows installation. Here is tip to get you started if it isn't hardware. Do an 'in place' Upgrade of Windows use an ISO you can create with Media Creation Tool. Using the ISO and doing an upgrade has the advantage of not affecting the system, so all your documents, all system settings and all installed software is left untouched. At least give that a shot, and devote the hour it will take to run. Then see if things aren't 180 degrees different for you. If not, a clean install with the latest ISO from the Insider build from Slow Ring is another solution, but will mean reinstalling software - tell it to keep your personal files. If that doesn't help, then look to hardware and hardware related issues. A bad GPU or GPU driver or bad RAM or bad HDD can all seem innocent, and software that uses them in 'new ways' will exhibit problems that other software would not. And UWP does use the GPU especially differently.
  • The only problems I'm having are with UWP apps. Firefox runs fine, Spotify runs fine, Handbrake runs fine, etc. (To be fair, my UWP apps work well enough (save for Edge) - they only crash every couple of days. But this is still far worse than my non-UWP apps...) The Spring Creator's Update is due in about a week, so I'll just wait for that and see how things go after that. Thanks for the tip...
  • Apart from the bug where UWP apps sometimes start as a tiny window or get suck on the splash screen (both of which should be fixed in the Spring Creators Update, hopefully), I don't think the UWP app crashes are a problem of UWP per se but rather of the specific application. At least not the ones I've been experiencing, which were mostly Sticky Notes crashing when copying, Mail crashing when archiving a message from a notification while the app is open and Unigram sometimes crashing when opening it from a notification. The Sticky Notes and Mail bugs have been fixed, though.
  • My issue with UWP is bad performance. Very noticeable when you play a 120 FPS 1080p video in the Microsoft player vs a Win32 player. Jeerky, stalls, visual artifacts in Microsoft UWP apps. Flawless in apps like Kinovea, though. I used to think my AMD laptop was just weak, but I upgraded to a gaming notebook with a 7th gen i7. 4 core/8 thread. 32 GB RAM. Tried both GPUs. NVMe Storage. The UWP apps give awful performance. felt No Different than My 2013 AMD A10 Mid Range Laptop. The only apps that feel faster are the base OS, So 32 apps, and games. The YEP apps run as if I haven't upgraded at all. My late 2013 iMac with 4th Gen i5 (Haswell) plays these exact same files flawlessly in both Photos and QuickTime Player. No frame skips or droos, no pauses, no visual artifacting... Perfection. The issue is obvious. It's not even Windows itself. UWP apps just give awful performance, so I don't use them for anything. Considering how "light" these applications are, I'm absolutely astounded by the disparity. There are decade old Win32 apps that handle video and photos much more efficiently, and with much greater performance. I'd like to know why this is the case... Some of This affects Edge, which is what I think some people are noticing. Internet Explorer seems more responsive compared to Edge, for me, and so do other Win32 browsers (eso those with better engines then IE) like Opera, Firefox, and Chrome. Something about the way UWP apps handle media seems off. Web pages tend to be full of media. They also cause my laptop fan to run more than Win32 (including .Net in that) apps, which hints to me that my CUP is being tasked harder to run them than Win32 apps that I'd expected to be much more robust.
  • may want to do a app rest
  • They aren't talking about current Edge browser in the Fall Creator's update.
  • And I don't think it's right to ask about Edge in any context other than the one that describes the average user. 99.99% of users aren't using Insider Previews of Windows (and they shouldn't have to)...
  • Yeah, it said at the very top of the article that it was talking about SCU, but by the end of the article I'd forgotten that.
  • Sounds like you need a "Fresh start" (Found in
    Windows Defender security center) with Windows. That's not supposed to happen. A reset to factory should fix all UWP problems 100%.
  • Not sure what planet you are in myself. Although not perfect, I can say this article is very spot on. More than a stable experience is mine with the current stable release edge. And in the enterprise as well. I am an IT guy, use various IT related functions Albeit MS centric like SharePoint, Azure, VSTS, etc....Often I use edge on my 4 GB RAM, Core M entry level 2015 version of the Surface 4.... And... It works fine there too.
  • Not quite sure what Edge you're using..
  • I love Firefox. Edge is the worst piece of crap ever and I'm never going to use it again
  • That’s really strange, what kind of processor u have? I used daily on an Atom X5 with 4Gb of Ram and it performs really well. I have two extensions installed the ghostery and one ad block not sure if that helps. The main problem I see on it is the JavaScript performance, not sure why the developers don’t focus on it, sites with heavy JS are a pain, I.e. eBay, gumtree or JB, I just let it load everything before attempting to do a search and it works otherwise you only get frustrations, safari on the iPad works fine with those sites
  • Sounds more like something is ****** on your PC, and it's not at all Edge or UWP that's the problem. Edge and UWP apps work perfectly for me on multiple PCs, laptops, and tablets.
  • Try resetting it from settings menu. Same happens to me sometime, this completely fixes every problem I have.
  • Hmm I don't really experience the UWP apps crashing as much got seen to describe your experience, maybe I'm lucky. Edge generally works well for me too, but I still go between it and chrome because of Xmarks missing in edge. I use the mytube app for YouTube so I actually haven't tried YouTube in edge lol. I have tried Google docs though and it feels laggy in edge.
  • Edge has worked fine for me on my Surface Pro 4. Have Ghostery and Adblock extensions installed and works great. I can also search through my browsing history so not sure what Zac means when he says 'You also can't search through your browsing history from within edge'.
  • You live on Mars. Use it EVERYDAY and it's fine! And I run a small business.
  • Edge should be a completely independent browser in order to be considered a prime timer!
  • Or it would be if UWP was beefed up significantly and was made as capable as the Win32 subsystem. But that may take years...
  • More like never will happen
  • It will happen
  • "Share icon. I don't use these icons" You don't use the Share features of Windows? I am beyond shocked, as it is a basic and power user usability feature. Flipping off links/photos/content via Skype, Instagram, Email, Cortana, Messenger, Facebook, etc. in a couple of clicks is a massive time saver. This also isn't limited to UWP and is an important feature throughout Windows, like using it from File Explorer, that integrates the shared App UI. The best way to describe the new 'Share' is that it is like a more advanced 'Send To..." feature of Windows going back to Win95. And again, I would be SHOCKED to find out that you never used that feature of Windows as well. As for the 'Ink' - again, a bit surprised you would use this, as you don't need a Pen, you can scribble with a Mouse, Trackpad, or Touch to make a note on a website/article. Which can be saved or 'Shared' as well. Wow, Zac, Wow...
  • The thing is that if you're on a PC, then you can just copy the URL instead of sharing it, which works well enough for most scenarios.
  • Share on Windows is awful because most apps simply aren't listed there. You're assuming the person used predominately Microsoft or TWO apps. Have fun sharing a link to WordPerfect, or a Picture to PaintShop Pro, or text to Scrivener, or Audio to SoundForge. The Share feature in Windows 10 is all but useless due to UWP/Legacy segregation. This is something that Apple has done much better than Microsoft. use Share all the time on macOS, and almost never on Windows 10.
  • Edge is always a mess right at the launch of a new OS version. It normalizez 3-4 months down the line, but then in 2-3 there is another version of Edge out and the cycle repeats. Edge get truly useable for 2-3 months then becomes unusable for another 3-4 months. I'm wondering. Does Edge on Skylake still limit the CPU to 800 MHz while watching Youtube?
  • I dislike the interface and theres no customization.
  • While i do enjoy the set aside tab feature, Edge is not primetime. It's a memory hog, performance is blotchy at best on my surface pro 4 i7, and crashes frequently. I've got dump files up to 6GB in size. Right now i use Firefox as my default browser but surprisingly use edge because when you do a Cortana web search, surprise surprise, results open in edge.
  • I am looking into a redgistry hack to change that.
  • Surprised to see you're not a fan of Set Tabs Aside. That is, by far, my favorite feature of any browser and I can't imagine going back to a world without it.
  • The problem is that it's easy to hit the button accidentally, and then you have to wait while your tabs are saved and then again while they are restored.
  • Of any browser? Opera's Speed Dial functionally is literally decades ahead of Edge's "Set tabs aside".
  • Speed Dial in Opera is nothing like Set Tabs Aside...
  • What? the speed dial and set tabs aside are not similar
  • "Microsoft is aware of the issue and says it's on Google to get it fixed, which is unfortunate really." Google is not use standards and instead is coding to the idosyncracies of Blink and Chrome specifically. After all the years of Microsoft being bashed because the standards in IE6 were rejec