Last month, Microsoft gave notice that, with the advent of Windows 10, Internet Explorer was going the way of the dinosaurs and had been selected for extinction (it’ll remain on enterprise products for those with legacy websites running on older technology, but will be missing from consumer products). We also learned that work was well underway on a new Microsoft browser codenamed “Project Spartan.” This week, at the Build Developer Conference in San Francisco, Microsoft’s Operating Systems corporate vice president, Joe Belfiore, announced the official name of the new browser: “Edge.”
Microsoft Edge is so named, Belfiore explained, because it straddles “the edge of consuming and creating,” though it happens to be the same moniker used for the new rendering engine in the Windows 10 browser, EdgeHTML. It’ll be the default browser on all Windows 10 devices, from PCs and laptops to smartphones and tablets, and will offer users unique features such as distraction-free reading, Cortana integration, and the ability to annotate on webpages using digital ink. As Belfiore said at Build: “You’re going to care about the blasting fast technology that’s inside it.”
The design is simple and minimalist, and all the more appealing for that. The inking and annotating capabilities aren’t simply an interesting way of doodling away some time when you’re feeling bored. Let’s say you’re using a Surface Pro 3 with a stylus. Simply hit Web Note and you’ll be able to ink at will all over the page (you can change the colour, use highlighting tools, add comments and notes, and use a snippet tool). You can then share your creative efforts via email or store it on OneNote, or upload it to OneDrive (it would be seriously cool and very useful if you could ink in real-time with others – maybe that’s to come).
However, the biggest change is under the hood: the new rendering engine, EdgeHTML, is designed to be ultra-modern, so it’s dropped support for ActiveX controls and, courtesy of enhanced standards compliancy, rendered pages will be a lot more compatible.
Will Edge follow in Google’s path and provide regular updates? That seems an absolute must if it’s to catch up. Whatever happens, creating and accessing digital content via this browser just got a little edgier.