Fresh eyes

What does Microsoft’s new browser mean for web design?

What does Microsofts new browser mean for web design
Steve Baker Freshfield Senior Digital Developer

Written by Steve Baker,
Senior Digital Developer at Freshfield

With the recent release of Windows 10, Microsoft has also released a new web browser.

After years of diminishing popularity for Internet Explorer, the company has decided to build an entirely new browser called Edge.

The new browser promises a ground-up experience and will battle it out with Chrome, Safari, Firefox and others in the crowded web browser landscape. Edge promises to be faster, more secure and more useful than its predecessors but after years of trailing behind the leaders, are these just boastful claims?

Microsoft’s long-time staple browser Internet Explorer, was the cause of extreme frustration to web developers and agencies as the support for common coding standards were buggy or non-existent. This meant on average an extra 30% more development time was required to build a website, with the end product being inconsistent and some features even had to be removed completely. The browser has, however, steadily improved over the years so it is interesting to see how Edge performs.

Early tests have demonstrated that Edge is fast, has some nice new features and has good support for coding standards. I have checked our portfolio of websites and I am happy with how they display and perform.

The browser layout is fairly simple which gives more focus to the actual web page you are viewing and the settings enable you to easily turn features on and off. Of the new features, I found the following the most useful:

Cortana

The digital assistant that is built into Windows 10 is also built into Edge which provides contextual information such as finding out more about a person or place mentioned on a web page.

Reading View

Enabling Reading View on a web page strips out a lot of the clutter on a page such as ads and navigation bars providing a simple and pure reading experience.

Web Notes

This feature allows you to ‘mark-up’ a web page by scribbling notes over the top of it. Once you are finished you can save the page as an image, your favourites or to the Reading List. Web Notes could be a useful tool for clients to provide feedback about a website design or layout.

It is early days for Microsoft Edge and it is not yet the finished product, but more features and improvements will be made over time. Microsoft has anticipated that these improvements will be rolled out quicker than previous versions as Windows 10 has been designed to automatically receive updates.

This is a very bold (and perhaps unpopular) move by the company, but it hopes this will speed up the adoption of the new browser and finally give Internet Explorer the retirement it deserves.

From a personal point of view, will I be an early adopter? Probably not, but I am hoping that lots of people will be as the industry needs to leave behind out-of-date browsers and move to a browser that can keep up with the ever changing environment of the web.

For businesses planning on making changes to their existing websites, or creating new ones, they will need to consider how their website will perform on the new browser.

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