Why Microsoft's new Edge browser could be a true Google Chrome rival

Microsoft Edge logo in Windows search
Microsoft Edge logo in Windows search (Image credit: Windows Central)

Last weekend, an early build of Microsoft's new Chromium-powered version of Edge leaked online, giving us a first proper look at what Microsoft is working on. Announced last year, Microsoft is rebuilding Edge from the ground up using the open-source Chromium project, but many questions had been left unanswered. Now that a build has leaked, we have a much better idea of what Microsoft is doing with Edge now that it's moving to Chromium, and the early builds we've seen are more than promising.

Codenamed "Anaheim", this new version of Edge is a complete rebuild of the web browser. It's no longer based on Chakra core and doesn't use Microsoft's own rendering engine known as EdgeHTML. It uses the same rendering engine found in Chrome, meaning Edge now handles websites like YouTube and TweetDeck quickly, without any lag or performance issues. Microsoft has also managed to make Anaheim less resource intensive, using less RAM than both Chrome and the old version of Edge.

Microsoft Edge, Chromium, and Blink FAQ: Everything you need to know

An early build with real potential

The early build doesn't have all the features that Microsoft is planning for Anaheim, but it does give us a good look at the browser so far. Its UI is clean, albeit missing Fluent Design effects, which will hopefully be added over time. Edge-specific features like set tabs aside and inking onto pages aren't currently there. Microsoft hasn't committed to bringing these features to Anaheim, but it has said it is evaluating what Edge users love most about the old version and will bring them over. So expect to see things like the PDF reader and inking show up in Anaheim soon.

New features for Edge users so far include a better password manager, the ability to search through browser history, more reliable syncing across devices, tab grouping, better progressive web app (PWA) support, and Chrome extension support. The new version of Edge also supports the vast library of Chrome extensions, which can be downloaded and installed from the Chrome Web Store at the click of a button.

The new Edge is very stable.

Regarding touch and scroll support, these early builds aren't as good as the old Edge, but they're not bad. Chromium has come a long way with touch support, and things like pinch to zoom now mostly work. I'd love to see Microsoft add back the rubber-banding effects found in the old Edge, as they give the user experience a little more personality. The lack of a rubber-banding effect when swiping around using touch or a trackpad makes the experience feel incomplete.

The browser itself is very stable. Although Anaheim has only been in development for a few months, the browser is already years ahead of the old Edge, as its Chromium base is already a mature platform. Unlike the original Edge, which often crashed and wasn't very reliable at first, this new Edge has already passed that stage of development. It's about as stable as Google Chrome is today.

Anaheim uses your Microsoft Account to sync data to the cloud, which can then be accessed when logging into the browser on other devices. While you can't use a Google Account, you can port your Chrome browsing data to the new Edge and sync it with your Microsoft Account. In fact, porting your browsing data from Chrome or the old Edge is super easy, and it's very reliable, meaning you won't miss a beat when switching browsers.

A very promising start

The new Edge is fantastic. Since the core of the browser is Chromium and Blink, Microsoft can spend more time building out surface-level features, as the engine is already being dealt with by the open-source community. this version of Edge is already the best browser Microsoft has ever made. But is it better than Chrome?

It's too early tell, of course, but in regards to performance, it should at the very least be identical to Chrome. What will make Edge stand out are the many surface-level features Microsoft builds for the browser. Things like a better PDF reader, saving tabs for later, inking, and contextual Cortana experiences are all things that could make the new Edge great. If you use Google Chrome because of its better web rendering, Edge now matches that.

I think for many Edge will now be good enough. It's essentially Google Chrome but built by Microsoft, meaning Microsoft can finally give Google a run for its money. If you're a Windows user who is not in the Google ecosystem, there's no reason to not use this new version of Edge. For existing Edge users, this new browser is a vast improvement.

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

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

  • I don't know, people don't use Chrome because it's better they use it because they think it is just going to be give a better experience than their rivals, they don't actually know and they don't want to find out. Maybe if Microsoft makes a huge campaign blatantly saying that it uses the same engine as chrome and has more features, they can actually win.
  • They use it because (1) Google tells you to use it every time you visit a Google site. (2) It is a little more stable and reliable (3) their friends all use it (4) 80% of people use Android which is based around a Google Account, which Chrome also hooks into.
  • When Chrome came out it was far superior to everything else at the time. That is why people started using it and continue to use it today. Nothing else has come out that really improves on Chrome. Everything else you mention certainly helps them keep it relevant.
  • No. It was never superior.
  • In 2008 it certainly was. Competition was very bad at the time. Chrome ran circles around everyone.
  • Opera is a better browser than Chrome...
  • That is a matter of opinion, Over the years, since the first time it was launched, when it had advertising built-in I have tried it, but as yet it has failed to keep me as a constant user.
  • Microsoft needs to stop with the lies. This was not a “leak.” It was an orchestrated attempt to drive PR and Beta test Edge. Microsoft, grow up! Most of us are not that dumb. We know what you are doing.
  • I never thought of that, but you could well be right. Ms no doubt monitor sites like this and social media.
  • Even if you're right, so what? Why get so bent out of shape about it, especially when it appears to be a common ploy. It makes sense that a company wouldn't want to officially release something this early in it's development cycle. Just look at all the whiny idiots who joined the Windows Insider Program and then complained unendingly about bugs in their Windows build. By "leaking" it they can generate interest, gauge reaction and ensure that only those who are really keen and understand the risks will actually use it. If anyone who doesn't fit that description installs it and it breaks something, Microsoft can tell them that they shouldn't have installed it in the first place and just turn their back, which is what I'm sure they'd have liked to do with certain Windows Insiders but really couldn't. It makes perfect sense and, if you can't see that, maybe you are dumb after all.
  • I think you are missing the point. Trust is far more valuable to a company like Microsoft. They have done an admirable job rebuilding trust over the years. I’d hate to see that lost. All the Microsoft fake commenters on WC don’t help either. ;-)
  • Just how do you justify your accusations of "Microsoft fake commenters"? That is just a smear against people that you seem to maybe disagree with. Please provide proof of your tin hat conspiracy.
  • Do you really want me to provide “proof” that Microsoft employs fake accounts to work the comments on the internet to “guide the narrative”? If you really do, I can. Have your boss Satya Nadella email me. I’m sure Windows Central will give my email address to him, since Windows Central is nothing more than a propaganda arm of Microsoft. I know Apple and Google do the same thing, but that doesn’t make it right. Trust is key to any of these big tech companies. Microsoft is treading in dangerous territory. I say this as a Microsoft fan.
  • Dude. Microsoft don't care **** about what you think or believe. Nor does anyone else. Go buy some Apple products or switch to Linux if this Edge beta "leak" bothers you that much.
  • Most leaks are PR moves by their respective company. Good thing that you finally saw through that bulllcrap
  • It's definitely the name and the icon dude... I mean the icon blantantly says "****** internet Explorer" to your face. If they used the name spartan, everyone would use it. Changing the engine doesn't change jack ****
  • I don't see any other way of "winning" to be honest.
  • Sadly, it won't work just because it's not called "Google Edge"
  • Can't wait to finally ditch Google Chrome once and for all.
  • Are you really ditching Chrome if you are just switching to Chrome with a Microsoft skin?
  • Yes, you are. Sure, you could make a case that it's not but then you would have to define exactly what you mean by "Chrome". I'm quite sure that the things that many people don't like about Chrome are specific to Chrome rather than being part of Chromium. Of course, other things will not. Whether any particular individual benefits from switching from Chrome to any other Chromium-based browser depends on what that person has issue with.
  • Do you really use Chrome? What a waste...
  • You could have done that a long time ago, firefox, edge and plenty of browsers based on Chromium, which if you are going to use the new Edge, that is all you are doing is using another browser based on Chromium
  • Firefox (Quantum) is not based on the Chromium project.
  • Who said it was? He said he can't wait to ditch chrome once and for all and I said he could have done that a long time ago and Firefox was on of those he could have changed to. To be honest I am wondering I should give it another go.
  • If RAM takes up more than Chrome, there will be no success. I tried the leaked 64-bit version of Lenovo MIIX 310 (4GB RAM, with a weak processor - Intel Atom), and work is desperately slow. If this thing is to be used on a 2GB RAM computer, it's better for people to use Internet explorer
  • The article says Edge Chromium uses less memory than Chrome. So a user on low spec PCs will be better off using Edge than Chrome, or if that is not good enough, use IE instead as you say. I.e. Edge wins over Chrome. Over time I'm sure Microsoft engineers can look at memory and performance optimizations. For today it will be about reliability and features.
  • Microsoft and optimization in the same sentence? I don't think so... I also have tried the leaked version and uses much more RAM than Chrome and opens a dozen more processes than it.
  • Screenshot to show this?
  • The question is, when you goto Google.com or YouTube.com in the new browser, will Google STILL prompt people to download the 'better' browser and pull them off Edge? Also, I feel Microsoft need to make a way to allow a Google login too, (creating an MSA too), because some people live only in the Google world and will just use Chrome if they can't log into their Google account.
  • Zac tweeted that it isn't prompting them to install Chrome when navigation to Google sites in the new Chromium based Edge browser.
  • Probably not, since Microsoft surrendered to Google, they will be grateful by not pushing Chrome in Edgium.
  • I wouldn't be surprise if Google started charging money for the use of the Chromium codes in 2020 when Chromium Edge becomes popular. Knowing Google, they will do everything to destroy rivals.
    Also, will this browser be recognised by program and website as Edge or as Chrome? I get a little annoyed when literally every website says Chrome instead of Edge.
  • Except, Chromium is open source and Google does not own Chromium.
  • They can't charge any money for it, for the use of Chromium source. Nope.
  • It's stuff like this that really has me questioning Microsoft's leadership vision. It's great that their alpha version of Edge Chromium already seems to outshine the old Edge and even Chrome. But, like, why wasn't this path started 4 years ago? Seriously, an alpha version of the new browser is already outperforming the one that Microsoft has been putting their blood, sweat, and tears into since 2015?? Instead, someone at the tippy top of Microsoft decided to go all in with reinventing the wheel, only to see them get cold feet 75% of the way through. Now the last 4 years of Microsoft browser development have largely been a waste. I understand trying new things, and not everything is going to work out...but major product shifts like this do not instill confidence that Microsoft is evolving...it tells me that they will perennially behind leaders in the consumer technology space by 3-4 years.
  • You are right and there was a change near the top that we can see in some of the more recent decisions Microsoft has made about Edge, the types of features in Windows updates, the future of WCOS and more. That change was the departure of Terry Myers.
  • Microsoft set "old" Edge up to fail then acted all surprised when it had a consistently low market share. "New" Edge isn't about being fresh, innovative, or whatever you want to call it. It is about taking the innovations they've already developed for "old" Edge and wrapping that around someone else's rendering engine. While some divisions of Microsoft appear to be capable of "playing the long game", others are distinctly myopic in their approach to making or supporting their products to be successful.
  • "Seriously, an alpha version of the new browser is already outperforming the one that Microsoft has been putting their blood, sweat, and tears into since 2015??" What makes you think that Microsoft put ANY effort into Edge? It sucked when it was released. It is just now almost useable.
  • I actually switched over to Vivaldi as I got tired of waiting for edge to work. And wow am I loving the extra features of tab stacking and mouse gestures. Only way now I switch to Edge is if it has something better to offer for me.
  • It'd be interesting to see this compared with the other Chromium-based browser, Brave.
  • I use Cent and have done for a few years now, I do try others now and again, but always go back to cent and while the new Edge is in early stages, It is no slower or faster than Cent. you can add extensions from chrome store, but you have to go into the settings to flick a switch to do that, but you can also add extensions from the MS store. For me, I see no reason to change from what I am using, but other people may do.
  • I use Edge because the battery life is better on my laptop, but if I could get Chrome performance plus the battery life of a UWP Edge browser, then I'm sold!
  • Why don't you just use Opera? It's also based on Chromium, and has a battery saver mode built in. You can even have it automatically kick in when you switch to battery power.
  • Now that is an useful feature. Now I want to get a Surface Go and try that app there.
  • Because stupid people love Google and there are a lot of them.
  • Which of you guys still love me?
  • I still love you
  • People use Chrome because they can use it on their desktop (MS), tablet (iOS), and smartphone (Android) and still have all their bookmarks and customizations...that's it...
  • People use Chrome because it was a million times better than IE or Firefox when it was released. They still struggle to keep up with Chrome.
  • I think the more technical people will move to Edge, but if MS keep that name and that logo the 'normals' will still just use it to download Chrome. Doesn't matter if they put up a 'Hey Edge is all new!' welcome screen or whatever, people will just click past it on their way to Chrome. The reality is, that name/logo has the same negative reputation with most people as IE did.
  • Let's face it. The world at large is not clamoring for another browser. No one cares about browsers these days. Desktop PC users are using Chrome. Firefox, IE and Edge are in single digits. Android users are using Chrome. Apple users are using Safari. That pretty much covers everything. There is no need for a 3rd mobile OS. Again. Having said all of that, this thing does have a chance, thanks to being available on all versions of Windows. Now, all they need to do is change the name and the logo. It desperately needs a new brand.
  • Microsoft knows this, but they need a default browser for Windows. Chromium fulfills that need with minimal effort/investment.
  • I would try using the New Edge in Windows 8.1...
  • The good thing is that would be able to when it's released 🎉
  • I don't know about giving Chrome a run for its money. They certainly won't if they keep the name and logo. IE simply carries too much baggage in the eyes of the public for it to be a good idea to keep a logo that hints or pays homage to it in any way. That's why no one tried Edge and now the Edge name is also tainted with the same negative reputation. Stop ******* up basic marketing and branding 101, Microsoft. Else, no one will use this new one either.
  • This is the problem, people see the logo and think that it is still Internet Explorer, also the UI for Edge puts people off.
  • I'm actually pretty interested in this. And I've been using Chrome for many many years. If Microsoft doesn't mess up and gives me the same experience I get on Chrome on this new browser (seriously...drop the Edge branding. It has always been terrible anyway, Microsoft. For the sake of it, I'll call it Spartan again) I'm definitely switching. Why not? I never use my Gmail account, I barely use any Google services at all, I hate the way Chrome looks now with everything white everywhere...if Microsoft gives me a Dark Theme on Spartan (and I mean a PROPER dark theme. One that uses 0,0,0 black. Not that grey crap they currently have), I won't even think twice before switching. The only reason I kept Chrome on desktop is because of the extensions. Now that those same extensions will work on the Microsoft browser, I don't really need Google's spyware constantly snooping around.
  • I would call it Spartan too and release it as a new thing. Edge is a terrible name.
  • I predict this will have moderate success in today's enterprise, where some IT engineers will deploy it simply because it's "Chrome" without being Chrome. I predict this will never take hold in consumer & education... simply because MS has abandoned both as "lost causes". I predict that within a decade the generation who grew up using Chrome, and other Google products and services, will make sure no MS product ever gets purposely deployed again in the enterprise, and make big pushes to replace them with Google products and services.
  • Keep on predicting !!!
  • Especially since Windows is the OS most used in education market by a lot and Chrome OS has less than 30% adoptability right now. It is rising but Mac/iOS have similar numbers of adoptability in the education market. But keep spewing nonsense. Edit: I got trolled 🤦‍♂️
  • Edge versus Chrome is illustrative of how MS has got it wrong, badly wrong. In the last week I have interacted with 12 small businesses and not one used Edge. After the first 3 suggested I use Firefox or Chrome I began to understand that, no matter how MS pushes Edge or rewrites it, these businesses have already voted with their cash. When I asked the next 9 businesses about the future they saw no reason that could drag them back into the MS folks because they have already invested in Android mobile, and Chrome, and see that their new employees already know Chrome and don't want to incur the cost of retraining.
  • Does anyone have link to the Edge Chroium build ""? I have the ""
  • Only reason Microsoft is moving to Chromium engine is Edge failed at its mission to garner any market share back. So why spend a lot of internal resources on continued development of EdgeHTML? Chromium works well and collaborating on the project already matured means Microsoft spends way less on development. Which means Microsoft could care less if Edge Chromium ever see's double digit market share or single digit.
  • The biggest mistake was using the e icon.
  • A rivalry to know which one is the best to download Firefox? It's so cute :3
  • Nothing can be worse than Chrome when it comes to performance. But I like how Edge already uses less resources than Chrome and it hasn't even hit RC 1.0 lmao
  • Will this support YouTube TV? Would be nice to not be locked into Chrome to watch on pc.
  • So let me help you - giving the fact that this new Edge is x86 means Microsoft will or can never escape the legacy code from 40+ years of Windows. Abandon the hope that they will start from scratch in this new world creating an entirely new different and lightweight OS (CoreOS or however you call it, doesn't even matter anymore). Google is bulding Fuschia literally from the ground up (know this for a fact! don't ask). Even the kernel is custom built. Microsoft on the other hand are too p*ssy and lame to do that. We will be forever stuck with the essentials of DOS like it or not.
  • Firefox all the way for me, on Windows, on Android, everywhere. I don't have anything with Microsoft or Google, but I prefer not to give my browsing history to a company if I have the option. And Firefox gives it to me (syncs are end-to-end encrypted). Plus it is the best browser by far, faster, with more features and everything synced between my devices.
  • I can't do many touch and pen things in Edge chromium, I currently use in Edge. Its not the same productivity and experience I'm getting. Its nice to use the chromium engine, but for my productivity and workflow the missing current features in Edge doesn't make the browser a good enough value proposition for me. Full Edge UI support, now, must be part of the early development experience. There will otherwise be more issues in the future as current windows 10 development is already showing, today.