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Microsoft’s new browser is a mandatory Windows 10 update. The next time you restart after a Windows update you’ll see it on your desktop shortcuts. Whatever your preference for browsers it’s worth a look. If your preference is already for Edge you are in for some surprises, most of them pleasant.

Microsoft has completely revamped its web browser by basing it on Chromium, which has improved its performance, created a more pleasant user experience and opened the door to Chrome’s library of extensions.

Although Microsoft’s original browser — Internet Explorer — was once dominant, it lost its top spot to Google Chrome in the mid-2000s and previous versions of Edge have not got it back.

Microsoft has decided to pin its hopes on the Chromium framework to revive interest in its struggling browser with the new version of Edge (now downloading with your Windows 10 updates).

Reviews are mixed. On the plus side Edge now uses the Chrome extensions. It has excellent mobile features and good browser security. There are, however, concerns about browser privacy.

Although not all Chrome extensions will work with Edge, most will, with the exception being ones that directly modify the user interface. This means that invaluable web apps — such as password manager extensions, ad blockers and security extensions — are all available for the browser, greatly expanding its list of potential new features.

Edge also comes with a sync feature that’s similar to that of Chrome. Currently, you can sync your favourites, settings, form content and passwords using your Microsoft account when working on multiple devices.

Another similarity to Chrome is the context menu options. You can select and right-click any text — and more importantly, images — and choose “search the web for” to instantly do a text or reverse image search in your chosen search engine. 

An interesting feature of the mobile version is “NewsGuard”. This is a database that analyzes news outlets and rates them based on perceived trustworthiness. Whenever you visit a news site, a small icon will appear in the address bar.

Mobile users will probably like the “floating video” setting. Which allows you to move a video into a sort of “picture in picture” frame so that you can keep watching while moving to a different webpage or tab.

The new Edge browser features a slick and easy-to-use design that will no doubt be familiar to anyone who has used Chrome or other Chromium-derived web browsers.

It is certainly a fight back from Microsoft but committed Firefox and Chrome users may not be tempted. The default search engine remains Bing, although this can be changed to your search engine of choice.

If you are running Windows 10 you will get the download and it is worth having a look. Even if you want to stick with your different browser of choice, most users benefit from having an alternative browser to use. This new version of edge certainly seems to be a big improvement on the previous version. Take a look for yourself.