People love to rag on Google Chrome for being a bloated browser that eats up your computer’s resources. Well, Microsoft Edge has become even worse. It started out with good intentions, but Microsoft can’t help itself.
I really wanted to like Microsoft Edge. I switched to using it on my desktop PC and my Android phone—even recommending it to others. However, as time has gone on, that’s been harder to justify. The dream of a Chrome-like browser without all of Google’s bloat seems dead.
Microsoft Edge didn’t start bloated. In fact, that was one of the reasons why I decided to give it a try. I thought it could be a slimmed-down version of Chrome with many of the same features, but just less.
For a while, it seemed that was the case, but it didn’t take long for the feature creep to start happening. “Feature creep” is when new features are constantly being added to a product, to the detriment of that product. It’s sadly a common thing in modern browsers, apps, and other types of software.
Instagram is one of the most well-known examples of feature creep. It used to be a very simple app all about posting photos. Just photos. Now it’s a bloated amalgamation of the old Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, and Facebook.
The strange thing about Edge’s feature creep is it hasn’t really been about stealing features from other browsers. Microsoft has been adding a lot of just plain unnecessary things.
A Browser That Can Give You a Loan
2021 was the year that Microsoft really started to cram features into Edge. That has continued—albeit a bit slower—in 2022. Let’s take a look at some of the most egregious additions.
Edge has the ability to give loans. If you make a purchase between $35 to $1,000, an option to “buy now, pay later” will appear in the browser. Microsoft partnered with Zip for this feature, and it’s probably taking a cut from the transactions.
Remember playing games on MSN? Well, you can play those games in Edge. A small icon appears in the toolbar—if you enable it—that opens a sidebar with games like Solitaire, Bubble, Sudoku, and more. The actual games are played on a webpage, not in the browser.
Reviews are a great way to learn about a product before you buy it. There are plenty of great places to go for these reviews, but Microsoft wants you to see them in Edge. When you checkout at some online retailers, you may see a pop-up with coupons and reviews. A potentially useful idea, but probably not what you expect from your browser.
One of the most recent additions is a visual search feature. Any time you hover your mouse over an image on a website, you’ll see a little icon to perform a Bing Visual Search. Essentially, it searches the web for similar images. This was annoyingly enabled by default in Edge 95.
While some of the features Microsoft has added are more useful than others—like price tracking—it’s all a bit much for a browser. None of these features are actually for browsing the web.
Edge Isn’t All Bad
To wrap up, I should mention that Edge does have some good ideas. It’s generally a good browser and a viable competitor to Chrome. Despite everything, I still use it on my PC, Android phone, and iPhone—though that may not last much longer.
Edge is more than just Chrome with Microsoft’s name slapped on it. The company has added more than a few unique features. It can automatically clear your history when you close the browser, you can move the tabs to a sidebar, there’s a dedicated Kids Mode, and more.
What do those features all have in common? They improve web browsing and the browser experience. Features like that are much more welcome than games and coupons. At the end of the day, the browser’s job is to make using the internet as easy as possible. Every little prompt and pop-up just gets in the way.
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