Microsoft released a stable version of its new Chromium-based Edge browser back in January, and we already knew that the company was planning to roll it out to all Windows 10 users. The legacy Edge browser is now deprecated starting with the Windows 10 May 2020 Update, and the new Chromium-based version will get new features at a much faster pace, with Microsoft opting for a 6-week release cycle.
Installing the stable version of Microsoft Edge manually today will trigger some changes in Windows: the current version of Edge will become hidden, and the new Edge will be pinned to your taskbar and replace the old Edge in case it was already there. Moreover, all start menu pins, tiles, and shortcuts from the old Edge will migrate to the new Edge.
Yesterday, we reported that Microsoft Edge will finally begin rolling out to Windows 10 users via Windows Update. This will happen on all versions of Windows 10 starting with the version 1803 of the OS, though IT admins will be able to use a Blocker Toolkit to disable the automatic delivery of the new Microsoft Edge via Windows Update.
Microsoft also made available another group policy to allow users to use both the new and legacy Edge side by side in Windows. However, Microsoft recommends to use the aforementioned Blocker toolkit instead, and invite users to download an Insider version of Microsoft Edge on their PCs: Installing the Beta, Dev or Canary versions of Microsoft Edge won’t trigger any changes on Windows, and the legacy Edge won’t become hidden on your PC.
The new Microsoft Edge rolling out via Windows Update should make the transition as seamless as possible for Windows 10 users. The new Chromium-based Edge also kept the best features of the legacy Edge, including the smooth scrolling, digital inking, and Read Aloud features. And again, the six-weeks release cycle means that the browser should get new features much more frequently. Previously, Edge only got new features with the bi-annual Windows 10 updates.
Overall, this new Edge browser is pretty much Google Chrome without the Google stuff: everything will sync with your Microsoft account, including favourites and extensions, though the new Edge can’t sync your browsing history and open tabs across devices yet. Microsoft has also created a unique curation feature named Collections, which will soon integrate with Pinterest. Microsoft Edge also has great support for Progressive Web Apps, making it easy to "install" websites such as Outlook.com as apps and pin them to your taskbar.
Five years after the launch of Windows 10, the OS is finally getting a much better web browser, and Microsoft Edge is also available on Windows 7, Windows 8, and macOS. A Linux version is apparently in the works, though there's no ETA yet. It's worth noting that Microsoft has also started contributing to the open-source Chromium project to make all Chromium-based browsers even better.
Microsoft may have lost several years building the legacy Edge from scratch, and that browser never gained any momentum due to its Windows 10 exclusivity. However, we're glad to see that the new Chromium-based Edge keeps some of the best features of the legacy Edge, and we'd say it's definitely one of the best browsers you can use on your Windows 10 PC today.