Google Chrome remains the king of the web browsers, with almost exactly 70% market share. Microsoft’s newest Edge browser, which uses the Chromium open-source engine, has taken over second place from Mozilla’s Firefox at 7.9%. And now, Microsoft is pushing the new Edge to all Windows 10 desktops, replacing the old Windows 10 version and giving Edge a built-in, well … edge.
But which should you actually use? The two share a lot of similarities, but some key differences make one the clear winner.
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Let’s start with the obvious: How is each for general browsing? Well, in terms of design, they’re almost identical. A lot of the old-school design elements of the original Edge browser are gone, replaced with rounder edges and cleaner interfaces.
Sure, the arrow buttons and other icons on Edge and Chrome look slightly different, but the URL/search bar are essentially the same, and the icons for extensions and add-ons are in the same place. Right-click to the right of the tabs and you’ll see exactly the same tabs menu. In short, if you switch from Chrome to Edge, you’ll notice very little difference in your everyday browsing. One obvious difference, though, is in the default search engine and homepage. Edge defaults to Microsoft’s Bing, naturally, while Google defaults to Google’s search engine. Either can be switched at will, however, and so is only a temporary nuisance.
Edge and Chrome are both built on the Chromium open-source browser using the Blink rendering engine, and as such they’re more similar than they are different. I sometimes have to remind myself which I’m using.
The similarities continue in performance. These are both very fast browsers. Granted, Chrome narrowly beats Edge in the Kraken and Jetstream benchmarks, but it’s not enough to recognize in day-to-day use.
Microsoft Edge does have one significant performance advantage over Chrome. Memory usage. Quite simply, Edge uses fewer resources. Chrome used to be known for how little RAM it used, but these days, it’s become bloated. Edge used 665MB of RAM with six pages loaded while Chrome used 1.4GB — that’s a meaningful difference, especially on systems with limited memory.
If you’re someone who’s bothered by how much of a memory-hog Chrome has become, Microsoft Edge is the clear winner in this regard.
Making the switch from Chrome to Edge is simple enough in terms of features. Just install Microsoft’s new browser, accept the offer to sync over your passwords, bookmarks, addresses, and more from Chrome, and you’re off to the races. That’s a nice feature in its own right, although most modern browsers offer the same basic capability.
Edge also has some features that Chrome doesn’t. For example, there is Edge Collections, which let you group similar webpages together and name them. You can then easily access those groups by clicking on a collection, bringing you back to a particular working state quickly and easily.
Then there’s the Editor, Microsoft’s built-in answer to spelling and grammar checkers like Grammarly. Editor uses artificial intelligence to keep your writing up to snuff, and promises to work well for anyone not willing to shell out cash for a different add-on.
Extensions are another Edge strength. You can add Edge extensions from the Windows Store, which has a more limited selection, as well as extensions from the Chrome Web Store, although it requires manually accessing it. So far ,I haven’t run into an extension that won’t install and run on Edge without issue. Theoretically, that means that Edge could gain more extensions than Chrome if the developer community embraces the Windows Store. What was once a Chrome strength has been leveraged brilliantly by Edge.
Edge also offers a Read Aloud feature that will read everything on a webpage in a pleasant voice. It’s a great accessibility feature that makes it possible for those with limited vision to access written words.
Both browsers support turning webpages into apps, and while the process is a bit different, the net result is the same. Apps run well on both platforms.
Finally, when you want to cast your content to another device, Edge uses the Miracast and DNLA protocols while Chrome outputs to Chromecast devices. Which is preferable comes down to which devices you want to cast to, although Chromecast is likely the more popular solution.
One area where Chrome holds an advantages is its hooks into the entire Google ecosystem, such as Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, and Google Maps. If you’re dependent on that ecosystem, then switching to any other browser might be a challenge.
Chrome can sync just about every aspect of the browser across systems. Its list is exhaustive, including everything from passwords to bookmarks to history and a whole bunch more. Just look at the number of things that can be synced:
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Chrome handles syncing perfectly, allowing for almost seamless functionality between your phone, laptop, iPad, or anything else where Chrome can be installed.
Microsoft Edge is still relatively early in development, and limited device syncing has always been its biggest missing feature. You can sync passwords, bookmarks, and more from one device to the other, but it’s not perfect.
Edge lists History and open tabs as two important syncing features that are still under development. These are pretty important, especially if you switch between devices often. Though it’s almost guaranteed to come to Edge eventually, it’s one big reason to stick with Chrome for now.
Chrome runs on just about every platform there is, including Chromebooks and Android by default. It can also be installed on Windows, Linux, MacOS, iPadOS, and iOS.
Edge is also available on a number of devices, including Windows by default and MacOS, iOS, iPadOS, and Android via installation. Linux support is coming soon, and while you can’t install natively on Chrome OS, you can install the Android version in a pinch.
Security and privacy
Edge has more privacy settings than Chrome, and they’re easier to access. In particular, Edge can block trackers from sites you’ve visited and those you haven’t, as well as reduce your personalized information from being shared across sites. You can choose from one of three tracking prevention levels, making it easy to dial in your own level of comfort. Edge also uses Microsoft Defender Smartscreen to protect against malicious websites and downloads.
Chrome, on the other hand, is limited to blocking third-party cookies and to enabling safe browsing by identifying dangerous websites, downloads, and extensions. On both Chrome and Edge, you can install ad blockers as extensions and can determine which website has what permissions on your devices.
Chrome might be everywhere, but Edge has … the edge
Surprisingly, we find Edge to be a more complete browser. It uses fewer resources, has better privacy controls built in, and adds in some nifty and useful features that Chrome can’t match. Not everything syncs with other devices, and that’s a major weakness currently.
But it’s no longer true that you should just install Chrome and set it as your default browser by default. Microsoft Edge offers some meaningful features that make it a more robust browsing experience.