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The ‘secret weapon’ powering Microsoft’s Edge browser

With Windows 10 Anniversary Edition now rolling out to customers worldwide, Microsoft’s Jason Weber and Drew DeBruyne have taken to the official Windows blog to point out all the cool new features loaded up in Microsoft Edge thanks to the massive update. There are dozens, according to the post, such as browser extensions and tabs users can “pin,” keeping their favorite sites just a click away.

So what else is new in Microsoft Edge? For starters, Anniversary Update brings a “paste and go” feature, enabling users to paste a link into the address bar and automatically travel to that destination. If users accidentally paste anything else into the address bar, they will be given a “paste and search” option instead. Edge also serves up notifications from websites, but will ask permission from the user first before spamming them with messages.

Related: Microsoft bashes Chrome browser over battery life via Windows 10 notifications

In addition to those features, Microsoft Edge now provides a swipe-to-navigate option for navigating back and forward using a fingertip, similar to how touch-based devices interact with eBooks in the Amazon Kindle app and other readers. Cortana gets an upgrade in Microsoft Edge, too, allowing users to right-click on any image to discover additional related information.

The Edge update doesn’t stop there. The browser now imports favorites from Firefox along with Chrome and Internet Explorer. These aren’t mixed in with the favorites users create via Microsoft Edge, but are thrown into their own labeled folders. All favorites are organized in a new “tree” configuration within the Hub that can expand and collapse.

Finally, Microsoft Edge provides a reminder of in-progress downloads when the browser is closed. Folders can be dragged from the PC and dropped into the browser, too, a quick way to upload files to Dropbox, Google Drive, and of course, OneDrive. Other features include better tab behavior on Windows 10 mobile devices, tab previews for HoloLens owners, and better/safer browsing in a corporate environment.

“The Anniversary Update is more than just new features!” the report states. “We’ve also improved power efficiency, compatibility, and security, so customers can browse with confidence that their battery will last, their sites will just work, and they will be protected from malware and other threats by industry-leading security.”

Related: Dark Skype Preview app will be installed with Windows 10 Anniversary Update

The Microsoft duo points out that Edge is its most accessible browser to date, landing a perfect score on HTML5 Accessibility’s browser benchmark. HTML5 Accessibility is a site that “tests which new HTML5 features are accessibly supported by major browsers.” Microsoft Edge 14 scored 100 percent, followed by Firefox 47 (89 percent), Chrome 52 and Opera (81 percent), Safari 9.1 (73 percent), and Internet Explorer 11 (56 percent).

In addition to releasing an updated version of Microsoft Edge, the company also introduced the EdgeHTML 14 platform with the launch of Windows 10 Anniversary Update — the “secret weapon” powering the browser. This is Microsoft’s third update to the Microsoft Edge web platform, focusing on performance, security, and efficiency. It’s also the foundation of the browser’s new support for extensions.

With EdgeHTML 14, background tabs are more power-efficient thanks to a reduction of JavaScript timer executions, providing a power savings of up to 90 percent “in some scenarios.” Nonessential Flash objects now pause upon loading until the user clicks on the object. Additionally, Flash is now a separate process, allowing Microsoft Edge to pause the object if it consumes too many resources, or simply crashes.

The new EdgeHTML 14 platform improves the rendering speed of Microsoft Edge too. On a provided chart, Microsoft shows that its browser is better than Chrome (Canary v52.0.2712.0) regarding the use of Google Octane 2.0, Apple JetStream, and WebKit SunSpider. Microsoft determined this factor using a Dell OptiPlex 7010 desktop packed with an Intel Core i5-3475S, 4GB of system memory, and Windows 10 Insider Preview (version unknown).

For more information about EdgeHTML 14 and how it affects Microsoft Edge, read the latest blog written by program manager Kyle Pflug right here.