Google Chrome remains the king of the web browsers, with almost exactly 70% market share as of June 2020. Microsoft’s newest Edge browser, which uses the Chromium open-source engine, is in a solid third-place at around 4% after Mozilla’s Firefox at 8.5%, which is impressive after just six months. And now, Microsoft is 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.
Let’s start with the obvious: How is each for general browsing? Well, in terms of design, they’re almost identical. A lot 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.
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 it 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.
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. That’s a nice feature in its own right, although most modern browsers offer the same essential capability.
Edge also has some features that Chrome doesn’t. For example, there is Edge Collections, which let you group similar webpages and name them. You can then 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, as well as 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 is preferable comes down to which devices you want to cast to, although Chromecast is likely the more popular solution.
One reason why Chrome holds an advantage is that 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.
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 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 the other, 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.
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, which makes it easy to dial in your level of comfort. Edge also uses Microsoft Defender SmartScreen to protect against malicious websites and shady downloads.
Chrome, on the other hand, is limited to blocking third-party cookies. Its efforts toward safer browsing include identifying dangerous websites, downloads, and extensions, but you also need to hunt for the specific settings you want to adjust. But on both Chrome and Edge, you can install ad blockers as extensions, plus determine which website is granted what permissions on your devices.
Chrome might be everywhere, but Edge has the edge
Surprisingly, we find Edge to be more of a polished browser, especially given its most recent updates. It uses fewer resources than Chrome while offering superior privacy controls that are built-in rather than optional. Edge also adds in some nifty features that Chrome can’t match. Our sole complaint regarding Edge is that it lags behind the syncing capability Chrome has — and that’s a significant selling point for Google. The updated Edge browser does support synced data — like favorites and passwords — so we can assume it’ll catch up to Chrome on the rest soon.
Overall, it no longer makes sense to use Chrome as your default browser. Given Microsoft’s commitment to improving Edge — and the critical updates it’s received — a more robust browsing experience may be in your future. And the truth is, Chrome won’t be the one delivering it.