The first time I saw Edge browser I turned my nose up. There wasn’t one thing I liked about it; in fact, I couldn’t find anything about it that seemed worth any attention. At the time – and this was about 6 months after Windows 10 was first officially released – I thought it was extremely limited and barely functional. A lot has changed with Edge browser since then.

Thankfully it has matured a great deal since it was first introduced. In fact, the speed at which this internet browser has been brought along is far faster than the other mainstream browsers, like Firefox and Chrome. Understandably, they’ve had years to mature and grow to the point they are currently. Still, in the grand scheme of things Edge has come a great distance in a relatively short time.

Over the period of a week I did some side-by-side testing where I left Chrome, Firefox, and Edge running continuously and monitored them for resource use: i.e. how much RAM and CPU they were using. While this was going on I was using Edge for everyday things while I worked – nothing strenuous. At the end of that week Edge’s stats hadn’t really changed much at all. Both Chrome and Firefox had steadily increased in the amount of RAM  each was using. The more RAM being used by a program, the less there is available for other tasks and programs on the system. Over time that makes for a slow system. Mind you, it’s not perfect, but from a browser perspective it’s the closest I’ve seen yet!

As you can see in the image below, as I write this post I’m pushing Edge pretty hard. I’ve got three instances of the program running with multiple tabs in each, and a few Kaseya agent windows in operation doing some remote work on machines. Even at this amount of CPU and Memory usage this browser remains usable. I can tell – a little bit – that I’m reaching the limit, but this is impressive. I’ve never gotten this kind of performance from any other browser. The stats in the image below show just how hard I’m pushing this browser and it just keeps going. Its unnatural, I tell ya!

There is one major item, out of all the other things I could say about Edge, that really stands out and that is it’s deliberate design with security in mind. Put simply, Edge was designed from the ground up, to keep the user and the computer it’s running on secure from Internet born threats and it does this natively in concert with Windows Defender. The two seem to be joined at the hip and work very nicely together. It used to really bother me the way Internet Explorer was so deeply engrained into the Windows operating system and it was that history that first jaded me against Edge. But, having seen Edge and Windows Defender in action together in Windows 10 version 1703 and the latest Windows 10 version update – The Fall Creators Edition (version 1709), it’s become even more apparent just how seriously Microsoft is taking responsibility for keeping users and computers safe. That is a huge step for the Windows desktop OS. Historically speaking this operating systems’ greatest strength has also been it’s greatest weakness: the inclusive nature of the OS to make it possible to run just about any software or hardware with this operating system. But I’m getting side-tracked.

Don’t get the idea that you’ll be perfectly safe not installing an Antimalware program on your system if you’re using Edge exclusively. Windows Defender works well with Edge and together they form a nice first layer of defense, but I’m certainly not ready to say that Windows Defender has the power and teeth to protect against vast forms of malware like Bitdefender, Symantec, or the other major players. Security is always best done is layers and layers that compliment one another. No, the point of all this is to shed more light on the fact that Edge browser and Windows Defender work so well together that it’s clear there is designed inter-play between the two applications.

I’ve been using Edge exclusively on my laptop and workstation for the past 45 days, and especially since the release of the Fall Creators update, I honestly don’t have one single complaint about performance, stability, or security. Yes, I’ve got Bitdefender installed on both machines, but I’ve also seen Edge and Windows Defender in action doing their part to protect the computer from Internet born threats. Another item that is certainly worth mentioning is Edge makes use of Web Site Reputation Check, otherwise known as SmartScreen. Bitdefender makes use of this type of technology as well. I’ve seen Bitdefender alert me to something that Edge/Windows Defender didn’t, so it’s always good to have those layers in place. (When I installed Bitdefender on my systems it didn’t disable Windows Defender in any way. There’s meaning there that isn’t lost on me and shouldn’t be lost on you either.) What really impressed me about the SmartScreen behavior is, this is native to Edge/Windows Defender, whereas with other browsers you have to hunt down and install add-ons and/or plugins to get the same behavior. Edge remains light, fast and well behaved.

What this all translates to for the desktop user is by using Edge you’re increasing your over-all safety while traversing the Internet. You should still remain vigilant and aware that threats can pop up anywhere without warning, but Edge provides a much better chance of not getting into trouble should you accidently click the wrong thing. While testing Edge I deliberately clicked a link I knew went somewhere I wouldn’t suggest any of you go, and I was met with a very eye-grabbing red screen that told me Edge wasn’t going any further. The web site at the other end of the link was bad and it wasn’t going there. That was native behavior meaning I didn’t have to do anything with settings, or configurations. That goodness was already rolled up in the program. Another plus is that this behavior can’t be turned off like you might be able to do in Internet Explorer by putting a site in the trusted zone. From an administrator’s point of view I love this! You’ll have to forgive me, but there’s no user fiddling with this browser that I’ve found so far that would circumvent this behavior.

If I have one complaint about this browser its this: It doesn’t use Internet Explorer’s Favorites folder. Whether that folder is on the local machine where the browser is running, or stored on an Active Directory file server where it gets put using folder redirection. It keeps its favorites stored on the local computer. You can, however, easily import your favorites (bookmarks) from Internet Explorer, Chrome or Firefox quickly and painlessly. The reason that’s a complaint for me is because in my line of work, keeping things like users’ favorites safe and always available means using methods that take those favorites off the local computer and store them on the server where they get backed up. So, no matter what happens to the workstation those favorites are safe and always available. I’m waiting hopefully that Microsoft has something similar available for Edge. I do know that there’s a lot more available as far as management in regards to Edge in Windows Server 2016.

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