Though Microsoft’s Internet Explorer is the default browser in Windows, it has fallen far behind its rivals, Google’s Chrome and Mozilla’s Firefox. And the fact that Chrome and Firefox are also available for phones and tablets made it even more convenient for users to sync data across devices.

On 29 April, the Redmond, US, based company announced the name of the new Web browser at Microsoft’s Build 2015 developers’ conference in San Francisco. The new browser, initially codenamed Project Spartan, is called Microsoft Edge.

According to the demo (click to watch), it follows a minimal design philosophy so as to not overwhelm users with features. It promises to be more comprehensive because it offers a neater and unintrusive Web browsing experience. Edge will also make it simpler to get to extensions and settings with one click. The website-rendering engine is called Edge HTML.

Reports of the Internet Explorer’s death are greatly exaggerated

Opening new tabs

Opening new tabs and getting to your favourite websites quicker is one of the main usability upgrades promised. Based on frequently visited websites and search history, the Edge shows site suggestions as well as relevant apps for that particular website, which can be downloaded from the Windows app store. It also shows the latest news updates.

The new browser will show live previews of each tab if you simply move the cursor over the tab box. Web browsers such as Chrome currently offer a preview of the tab that is open, not other tabs. This could be useful, if there are multiple tabs open.

Notes and comments

The Edge will also allow users to take notes on Web pages, and if something looks important, it can be saved for offline reading—users can mark content (highlights, comments, must-read) on Web pages and PDF files, and also share the image via mail or social networks.

Speed with Cortana

Support for extensions

Finally, a Microsoft Web browser is now on a par with the likes of Google’s Chrome for extensions, which are small add-ons that can add functionality to a Web browser, and have proved useful. One example is the AdBlock extension in Chrome, which blocks pop-up and integrated advertisements from Web pages to enable an unintrusive reading experience. The Edge promises similar extensions. Microsoft is releasing tools that will make it easier for developers to port extensions they have made for Chrome and Firefox over to Edge.

Edge, in a world of Chrome and Firefox

The Internet Explorer is most certainly out of touch with the times, and a successor, though late in the game, is welcome. Google Chrome offers features such as voice search, sync data between multiple devices and built-in PDF support, and has a robust ecosystem of Web extensions and apps. Firefox is offering largely the same set of features, but Chrome still has the advantage in terms of Web apps. Microsoft Edge will integrate all these features, which is a good start.

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