Microsoft Edge vs. Google Chrome: Performance, design, security, and more

Google Chrome remains the king of the web browsers, with a 66% market share as of September 2020. Microsoft’s newest Edge browser, which uses the Chromium open-source engine, is in fifth-place at around 3%, which is impressive after just one year. Microsoft is now pushing the new Edge to all Windows 10 desktops, replacing the old Windows 10 version and giving Edge a built-in, well, edge.

But which browser should you use? The two share a lot of similarities, but some key differences make one the clear winner.

Design

Microsoft Edge
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Let’s start with the obvious: How is each for general browsing? Well, in terms of design, they’re almost identical. Many of the old-school design elements of the original Edge browser are gone, replaced with rounder edges and cleaner interfaces.

Sure, the arrow buttons and other icons on Edge and Chrome look slightly different, but the URL/search bar is mostly the same, and the symbols for extensions and add-ons are in the same place. Right-click to the right of the tabs, and you’ll see the same tabs menu. In short, if you switch from Chrome to Edge, you’ll notice very little difference in your everyday browsing. One noticeable difference, though, is in the default search engine and homepage. Edge defaults to Microsoft’s Bing, naturally, while Google defaults to Google’s search engine. Fortunately, either can be switched at will and is only a temporary nuisance.

Edge and Chrome are both built on the Chromium open-source browser using the Blink rendering engine, and, as such, they’re more similar than they are different.

Performance

The similarities continue in performance. These are both very fast browsers. Granted, Chrome narrowly beats Edge in the Kraken and Jetstream benchmarks, but it’s not enough to recognize in day-to-day use.

Microsoft Edge does have one significant performance advantage over Chrome: Memory usage. In essence, Edge uses fewer resources. Chrome used to be known for how little RAM was used, but these days, it’s become bloated. Edge used 665MB of RAM with six pages loaded while Chrome used 1.4GB — that’s a meaningful difference, especially on systems with limited memory.

If you’re someone who’s bothered by how much of a memory-hog Chrome has become, Microsoft Edge is the clear winner in this regard.

Features

Making the switch from Chrome to Edge is simple enough in terms of features. Just install Microsoft’s new browser, accept the offer to sync over your passwords, bookmarks, addresses, and more from Chrome, and you’re off to the races. Although most modern browsers offer the same essential capability, that’s a nice feature in its own right.

Edge also has some features that Chrome doesn’t. For example, there is Edge Collections, which lets you group similar webpages and name them. You can easily access those groups by clicking on a collection, bringing you back to a particular working state quickly and easily.

Then there’s the Editor, Microsoft’s built-in answer to writing assistants like Grammarly. Editor uses artificial intelligence to keep your writing up to snuff and promises to work well for anyone not willing to shell out cash for a different add-on.

Extensions are another Edge strength. You can add Edge extensions from the Windows Store, which has a more limited selection and extensions from the Chrome Web Store, although it requires manually accessing it. So far, we haven’t run into an extension that won’t install and run on Edge without issue. Theoretically, that means that Edge could gain more extensions than Chrome if the developer community embraces the Windows Store. What was once a Chrome strength has been leveraged brilliantly by Edge.

Edge also offers a Read Aloud feature that will read everything on a webpage in a pleasant voice. It’s a great accessibility feature that makes it possible for those with limited vision to access written words.

Both browsers support turning webpages into apps, and while the process is a bit different, the net result is the same. Apps run well on both platforms.

Finally, when you want to cast your content to another device, Edge uses the Miracast and DNLA protocols, while Chrome outputs to Chromecast devices. Which browser is preferable comes down to which devices you want to cast to, although Chromecast is likely the more popular solution.

Chrome holds an advantage because it hooks into the entire Google ecosystem, such as Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, and Google Maps. If you’re dependent on that ecosystem, then switching to any other browser might be a challenge.

Syncing

Chrome can sync just about every aspect of the browser across systems. Its list is exhaustive, including everything from passwords to bookmarks to history and a whole bunch more. Just look at the number of things that can be synced:

Chrome Sync Options
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Chrome handles syncing flawlessly, allowing for almost seamless functionality between your phone, laptop, iPad, or anything else where Chrome can be installed.

Microsoft Edge is still relatively early in development, and limited device syncing has always been its most prominent missing feature. You can sync passwords, bookmarks, and more from one device to another, but it’s not perfect.

Edge lists history and open tabs as two important syncing features that are still under development. These are pretty important, especially if you switch between devices often. Though it’s almost guaranteed to come to Edge eventually, it’s one big reason to stick with Chrome for now.

Cross-device accessibility

Chrome runs on just about every platform there is, including Chromebooks and Android. It can also be installed on Windows, Linux, MacOS, iPadOS, and iOS.

Edge is also available on several devices, including Windows by default and MacOS, iOS, iPadOS, and Android via installation. Linux support is coming soon, and while you can’t install natively on Chrome OS, you can install the Android version in a pinch.

Security and privacy

Edge has more privacy settings than Chrome, and it’s much easier to track them down. For example, Edge can block trackers from sites you’ve visited and those you haven’t. It can also reduce the odds of your personalized information being shared across sites. You can choose from one of three tracking prevention levels, making it easy to dial in your comfort level. Edge also uses Microsoft Defender SmartScreen to protect against malicious websites and shady downloads.

Meanwhile, Chrome is limited to blocking third-party cookies. The browser has made definite efforts towards safer browsing, including identifying dangerous extensions, downloads, and websites. However, you’ll have to search around for the exact settings you want to change.

On Chrome and Edge, you can figure out which websites have permissions on your devices and install ad blockers as extensions.

Chrome might be everywhere, but Edge has the edge

Shockingly, we view Edge as a more elite browser, especially after its most recent upgrades. The browser offers exceptional, built-in privacy settings and uses fewer resources than its Google Chrome competitor. In addition, Edge has employed a variety of neat and incomparable features, ones that Chrome just can’t contest.

The only downside we see with the Edge browser is that it’s syncing capability is much slower than Google Chrome (which is a major selling point for Google). We do think Edge will eventually match Chrome’s syncing skills, as we know that it supports data like favorites and passwords.

In sum, Microsoft Edge’s serious updates have made it a seemingly better default browser than Chrome. Microsoft has apparently committed itself to significant, continual improvements on the browser, and so a more robust browsing experience may be coming soon. And Google Chrome may not even be able to compete any longer.

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