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What the heck is Microsoft Edge

Tech Talk

Remember Internet Explorer? There were eleven versions of Internet Explorer from 1995 to 2013. Since it was the default internet browser in the most popular computer operating system, Internet Explorer was the most used browser in the world for many years.

Eventually, Internet Explorer had competition, first from Mozilla's Firefox browser and then from Google's Chrome browser. Both Firefox and Chrome supported new web standards that Internet Explorer didn't.

In 2015, Windows 10 shipped with Microsoft Edge, a completely new browser not based on Internet Explorer. The original Edge used a logo similar to the old Internet Explorer logo. This version of Edge worked fine, but both Chrome and Firefox had eaten Internet Explorer's lunch many years ago, and Edge didn't offer enough features to make people switch. It's still the default browser installed with Windows, but many people only use Edge to download Chrome or Firefox.

In 2019, Microsoft changed horses in the middle of the stream, threw in the towel, and a bunch of other metaphors, and rebuilt Edge on the same Chromium source code using the same rendering engine used in Google's Chrome.

What are the upsides to the new Edge browser?

Chrome is a notorious memory hog. Microsoft fixed that problem, so Edge is much more respectful of your computer's resources. The privacy settings in Edge are better and easier to find than in Chrome. All the extensions for Chrome, like password managers, ad blockers and the rest, now work in Edge, too. Edge also has built-in tracking prevention and a potentially unwanted program (PUP) blocker.

Since the new Edge is Chromium-based, you can install Edge on Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, macOS, iOS and Android.

Of course, it's not all smooth sailing. When you visit a Google site using Edge, you'll still get a pop up recommending you, "Try Google Chrome. A fast, secure browser with updates built-in." Meanwhile, in Windows 10, when you change your default browser away from Edge, you'll see that the new Edge is "recommended for Windows 10."

If you can't find a particular web extension in the Windows store, you can get it from the Chrome Web Store, but Microsoft will warn you that extensions from the Chrome Web Store "are unverified and may affect browser performance." After you click "agree," Google warns you that it "recommends switching to Chrome to use extensions securely."

Sigh, the browser wars never end, I guess.

The browser wars will end for Internet Explorer. Microsoft has announced the end of support for Internet Explorer in August of 2021. Since Internet Explorer has a less than 1% market share, the end of support won't affect too many people. Microsoft is also ending support for the "old" version of Edge, now called Edge Legacy, and as always, dropping support means no more security updates and no feature upgrades.

Oh, and if you ignored Edge before the shiny new version came out, no worries. You can still safely ignore it.

Do you miss Internet Explorer? Did you know it is still there in Windows 10? Click Start, then scroll down to Windows Accessories, and there it is.

Imagine going from being the dominant web browser in the world with more than a 90% market share to a mere Windows Accessory. How humbling.

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Dorothy, stuck in Oz

Realizing that magical footwear can't solve all your problems, Dorothy stays in Oz.

Decades go by and technology advances. Dorothy, realizing that things get boring without witches trying to murder you, finally gets a laptop.

She installs Internet Explorer, and the connection is terrible. Dorothy uninstalls Internet Explorer.

She gives Firefox a try. Better, but the connection is still awful.

Finally, she tries Google's internet browser. The connection is STILL not good. In fact, it drops out entirely, and all she sees is "No Internet" in Chrome's window. She sighs, realizing that Oz has terrible Wi-Fi in general. To pass the time, she plays Chrome's No Internet dinosaur game, to have something to do.

After she gets the hang of the game and keeps increasing her score, she smiles and says: "There's no place like Chrome."

-Not original. An uncredited joke from the internet.

Do you have a computer or technology question? Greg Cunningham has been providing Tehachapi with on-site PC and network services since 2007. Email Greg at [email protected].