This could be the new default browser on Windows – In short, this looks like a good ‘Windows Theme’ on Chrome with some added features.
Microsoft is building its new Edge browser on Chromium (the same open-source web rendering engine that powers the Google Chrome browser). The software giant has been testing variations of this browser internally at Microsoft, and now we were able to test an unreleased version that was leaked by an anonymous source (the same version has also been tested by The Verge). While the older leaked screenshots made Microsoft Edge look really similar to Chrome, Microsoft is including its own animations and touches to make it look like a Windows browser.
When you initially install the Chromium variation of Edge, Microsoft will prompt you to import passwords, favorites, and browsing history from Chrome, Firefox or Edge (depending on your default). The setup screen then prompts you to pick a design for the default tab page before you start browsing.
Most of the user interface of the browser is a mix of Edge and Chrome, and Microsoft has attempted to add its own little touches. There’s a read-aloud option that merely converts the text to voice like it does in existing versions of Edge. Though some features that you would expect from Edge are missing, for e.g., Microsoft hasn’t implemented its ‘set aside tabs feature’ yet and write on the web with a stylus isn’t available. A night/dark mode is only available by means of a testing flag right now.
Just like Chrome, Microsoft also has extensions and a dedicated extensions page for ones that it has approved. You will also have the ability to install Chrome extensions from Google’s Chrome Webstore, simply by turning a switch in the extension’s settings. We have tested a number of extensions like NordVPN, Ghostery, and 1Password and they work fine, just like you would expect them to in Chrome.
Microsoft is offering sync support for extensions in the settings interface for this new variation of Edge. However, it does not appear like it will be available immediately. The page notes that “more of the features listed above will become available for sync in the coming months.” You can only presently sync favorites, but not history, extensions, settings, autofill information, open tabs or passwords.
For an early version of Edge built on Chromium, Microsoft’s latest browser feels extremely polished (which is also due to beautifully written Chromium code). It is also extremely quick to launch and browse around with. If Microsoft can keep this browser updated and polished in the future, we think many people might not see a reason to need to use Chrome on Windows any longer.
We have never ever in our lives ever recommended Edge (or Internet Explorer) before this, as it was typically buggy, clunky, sluggish, and didn’t reliably work with sites effectively. Thanks to its Chromium backend, this new Edge browser feels completely different.
It is not yet clear when Microsoft will publicly release the new version of Edge; however, since the most recent internal builds work well and are stable, it is likely to be released very soon. We’ll try and keep you updated on exactly when Microsoft plans to start beta testing its Chromium-powered Edge browser. Btw, in case you are wondering, yes, apart from Chrome and Edge, there are many other variations of the Chromium browser as well. If interested, you can also check out Comodo Dragon, Opera (yes, the new builds are based on Chromium), Flashpeak’s Slimjet, Vivaldi (one of our favorites), SRWare Iron, Coowon, Citrio, and Torch. There may be more, but these are the ones we have tested and work fine as of now (though some of them, esp the last 3, aren’t updated very often, so use them at your own risk).