Despite Microsoft’s claim that its Edge browser in Windows 10 is faster than Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome, putting Edge through its paces in several different benchmark tests shows that it is slower in those that simulate real-world usage.
Chrome and Firefox are more mature browsers than Microsoft Edge. And despite the improvements that Microsoft has made over the last three years, it hasn’t been enough to make any significant change to the browser’s market share. I’m not a big fan of Chrome, including the constant updating and the problems some of those updates introduce. Although it’s safe to say that Google is expert in software-as-a-service compared to Microsoft. But worse than the regular updates, Chrome drains my notebook’s battery much faster.
Regardless of my complaints about Chrome, I’m not a typical user and accept that most prefer it over Edge. And one reason for that is extensions. Adding support for extensions in Edge was an important step but Chrome and Firefox both have a much larger selection.
Benchmarks and Real-World Experience
Nevertheless, ComputerWorld reported in April 2017 that according to its own analysis, Edge failed to complete both the Speedometer and WebXPRT tests. So, clearly there has been a big improvement.
Performance vs. Battery Life
But can we rely on benchmarks like Speedometer and WebXPRT to really give an accurate picture of real-word performance? And if yes, the results of the benchmarks lead me to wonder whether Edge’s superior battery life isn’t just a side effect of worse performance. Or is the performance/battery life tradeoff intentional on Microsoft’s part?
Regardless of the benchmark results, Edge is shaping up to be a good browser. And some of the cosmetic improvements due to arrive in Windows 10 1809 make the UI slicker. In my own experience, I find Edge performs well and I rarely experience crashes or hangs. But my use of heavy-duty web apps is limited. The most complex apps I use are WordPress and the Azure management portal. Except for search and occasional visits to YouTube, I don’t use Google services.
If you are deciding whether to use or recommend Edge, it might boil down to the sites being used. If you are a heavy user of Google services, like Gmail and YouTube, think about sticking with Chrome. As recently reported on WindowsCentral, there is a known issue that causes YouTube to work slowly in Edge. Microsoft is aware of it and says that it’s up to Google to fix. Others report that Gmail doesn’t work as quickly in IE or Edge. Power users will miss some of Chrome’s features, like the ability to launch PWAs from shortcuts in chrome-less windows, and the vast selection of add-ons. And occasionally I come across sites that aren’t ‘supported’ in Edge.
Edge isn’t perfect, and I’d like to see better support for the power-user features I mentioned above. But I think that performance is good enough and that there’s little real-world difference with the sites I use daily. Personally, battery life is also an important consideration when choosing a browser. But maybe you have a different experience with Edge?