Web Browser: Microsoft Edge vs Chrome

It should come as no surprise that my web browser of choice is Microsoft Edge, given Microsoft’s offering is my choice in almost everything (except Microsoft News which I don’t like at all).

This was not always true. The previous version of Edge was not great for me. Internet Explorer before it was very bad, not just for me but pretty much everybody. That changed when Microsoft opted to rebuild Edge based on the Chromium open-source code base. It now has all the best parts of Google Chrome including themes, extensions, and the rendering engine.

On top of that, it does a few things I like better than Chrome.

Privacy

The key difference for me is privacy.

Most of Google’s profit comes from advertising targeted based on a massive amount of data they know about you because they track you all over the Internet. Chrome helps them build up more data about you in a few ways.

For one, Chrome syncs your account using a Google account. All of your browsing is data sent back to Google. Microsoft has a similar syncing function but using a Microsoft account instead. It’s a fair argument if you don’t see a difference between giving lots of data to Google vs Microsoft, but Microsoft’s business is not built on data mining in the same way.

Google Chrome is also very forgiving of everybody else’s trackers, like Facebook’s. Most websites you visit have a bunch of trackers on them so ad sales companies like Facebook can follow you around the Internet. If you don’t want to be followed around the Internet, Edge is more aggressive about blocking these blockers than Chrome.

Speed

Edge uses up less memory and runs faster. That may be because of the blocking of trackers, since all of those trackers running take up resources in the system.

If you’re somebody who runs a lot of tabs at once, or using a machine with limited memory, this could be a deciding factor on its own.

New tab for Office accounts

If you’re logged in through a business account, one of the options for the New Tab screen is your Office documents. It’s essentially the same screen you get when you visit office.com. Putting that on the New Tab screen is a great way to be reminded and have quick access to your most important documents within the flow of your normal browsing.

Timeline

When you use Edge, on desktop or mobile, it integrates with your Windows 10 Timeline. This makes it convenient to scroll back through your history if you need something, like if you first viewed a page on mobile and now want to continue on desktop.

Update: it sounds like the Timeline sync will be going away for consumer accounts and will only be available for business accounts soon.

Vertical tabs

Lining up your browsing tabs on the left side of your screen instead of the top takes some getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, it is a much more efficient use of space at least on widescreen monitors where you already have more width than most websites are designed for, but could really use the extra height. The main downside is that it’s slower to switch tabs using a mouse, so I may get used to Alt+Tab to switch instead of using a mouse so much.

It’s already installed

This is a little thing, and yes, the argument I’m about to make is exactly what got Microsoft into anti-trust trouble years ago. The argument is simple: Windows 10 comes with Edge.

Having Edge and Chrome installed means that both update in the background, eating up memory. Having both means double the potential security vulnerabilities. And of course, it simply takes that bit of extra time to go download and configure Chrome.

Even if it was otherwise equal to Chrome, there is no reason to install Chrome. If it’s a bit better, as I believe, there’s even less reason.

If you haven’t tried Edge yet and you’re not heavily invested in the Google ecosystem, it might be worth a shot for you too.

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