Image Courtesy: Microsoft
Having used Chrome browser for close to 12 years, I had no reason to complain, not even when various antitrust forums cried hoarse about how the internet browser, like everything else from Google, was constantly spying on me, in the hope of making a few dollars more through selling my data to advertisers or posting “relevant” (read irksome) ads as a click bait.
I was ready to pardon Google for each of their nefarious shenanigans but what happened to me last week took the cake and made me decide to shift allegiance from Chrome. Wanting to try out the new Microsoft Edge, I downloaded it, fired it up and logged into my Gmail account.
To my surprise I got a security alert from Google claiming a new device had been used to sign in from my account, whereas it was just a new browser on the same device. What was funnier is that Google sent the same alert to the alternate account that it makes users give when you sign up anew. And this email was actually open on the Chrome browser itself.
I decided enough was enough. How could you attempt to discredit a competitor in this fashion? As a market leader with more than 65% share as against less than 16% for the second placed Safari, shouldn’t Google be more magnanimous to fledglings and maybe even try out why I had tried out a new one via a survey perhaps? But no! 900-pound gorillas don’t think, they destroy!
Having used the Microsoft Edge for a few weeks now, I would earnestly recommend it to those who are tired of Google’s prying eyes and ears that treat users as a commodity to be bartered to anyone who pays more money. Ethics be damned! Yes! Please do make money via ads. But, not by blocking ads of cheaper and better stuff because they can’t afford to pay you more!
Anyway, let’s cut to the chase now. Here is what you could do to make Microsoft Edge your default browser. And I reiterate that it’s as good as Chrome and also offers some kickass features that the old Daddy hasn’t bothered to work on – something that market leaders forget once they corner the biggest chunk of the pie.
For starters, Microsoft Edge is built on the Chromium Project Code on which Chrome is based. However, unlike Google which makes money based on how much it knows about you, Edge is not a nosey parker as Microsoft’s business model involves paid services like Office 365. And there’s some more as well that you will see as you read on:
- Download the Microsoft edge by clicking on the official site and instal the latest version that is public as it gets updated automatically every six weeks or so.
- The next step is to set up profiles Edge allows different profiles – personal and work. So you can keep your work-life balance even while browsing. In case you happen to access work websites from your personal profile, Edge offers to auto-shift. You could set up an anonymous profile that doesn’t sign in to any online account. Just visit settings > clearBrowsingDataOnClose and set it to auto delete browsing history, cookies etc. By the way, each profile opens on a separate window with a different profile avatar.
- In case you’ve a Microsoft account, Edge can sync the settings across all devices. It is pretty easy to get yourself an email on Outlook, in case you don’t have one. You could visit Settings > Profiles > Sync to turn on the sync and define what gets synced.
- Tracking prevention is turned on by default and can be set to Balanced Level first. It is not as though you won’t see ads, but lots of third-party tracking gets blocked. And you can stop ads completely by turning the tracking to Strict Level. Also, you could see the trackers blocked and use toggle (padlock button) to change individual settings.
- Adding browser extensions that you had used on Google comes next though most of the popular ones are also available on Microsoft Edge Add-ons page. In case, you don’t find it there, visit Chrome Web Store and download. Don’t forget to toggle a switch by going to the edge > extensions page to allow external add-ons. A link to Chrome Web Store has thoughtfully been placed right there.
- A password manager is a must have to create and remember unique credentials for the websites like banking etc. Microsoft Edge has a password fill / sync feature but we think a third-party app is still required. Go to Edge > Settings > Passwords to turn off settings so that you store the passwords on the external app, not the one on the browser.
- Choose new tab styles based on the sign-in credentials that you’re using. In case none of these make sense, download a browser extension that could take over the New Tab page. Honestly, I believe that an Outlook credential does give me what I require the most from my browser, unlike the massive loads that Google dumps.
- The Microsoft Edge functions like a progressive web app that enables resource caching and push notifications. Some websites that are designed so can be installed as apps on the browser. You can add several apps covering news sites, banks and social media.
- Now adjust privacy settings to ensure you share only what you want to with Microsoft. Visit Edge > Settings > Privacy to make changes. The first two options control how much diagnostic data you want Microsoft to use. Decide how to personal Web Experience option and you can simply turn it off to tell Microsoft not to use your history to bombard you with ads and other stuff.
- The Microsoft Edge offers you a feature called Collection that functions as a folder into which all your favorites can be bookmarked. But it does something more as I found out. You give such collections a name, add notes and then save pages using the link at the top of the pane. I dragged and dropped text blocks, product listings and images into this pane and also organized the list according to my requirement. In case you want all of this on a Word or Excel, just export it. Bingo! You have it in another format.
We believe these steps would be good enough to kickstart your journey with Microsoft Edge though I believe there’s a lot more that you may find as you go along, as I am doing so now.