Software

Microsoft makes another bid to be your default browser with EdgeHTML 16

In a cloud-based environment, the web browser is still a vitally important application--and Microsoft continues to up the ante in its quest for browser superiority with Edge.

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Image: Microsoft

Microsoft began slowly rolling out the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update to all its customers on October 17, 2017. By the end of the year, everyone who doesn't actively delay its installation should have the update. There are numerous new and improved features included in this update, but a few seem to be flying under the radar. For example, the Edge browser is getting a major update to a version Microsoft is calling EdgeHTML 16.

This new version of Microsoft's Edge browser adds several features and includes some subtle changes to the overall interface. With a business strategy that emphasizes a mobile-first, cloud-first world, Microsoft needs to offer a robust, feature-rich browser, if for no other reason than the fact that users of its cloud-based productivity suite and services will spend much of their time working inside it.

SEE: IT pro's guide to effective patch management (TechRepublic PDF)

EdgeHTML 16 highlights

One of the first things you may notice about EdgeHTML 16 is the updated style of the interface. The new version contains elements of the Fluent Design System, which gives it a different level of depth and transparency. The change is subtle and may not be all that noticeable at first, but if you look closely at Figure A and Figure B, you can see differences in title bar colors and shading. Hardly a defining feature, but it does give the browser a much-needed facelift.

Figure A

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Figure B

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With EdgeHTML 16, Microsoft continues to try to sell users on the benefits of annotation for websites and PDFs. Users can now change highlight colors and add notes on the fly using the power of the right-click and context-sensitive menus. If you are into annotation, the EdgeHTML 16 browser is built with you in mind.

One of the more useful features of this new version of Edge is the ability to pin your favorite websites directly to the taskbar. With this new feature, you no longer have to rely on jump lists to get to your most important websites. It is interesting to note that pinning a website to your taskbar in this way will override your default browser setting, to using Edge instead. This could be useful for loading Office 365 in Edge instead of Chrome, for example.

Another useful feature for a mobile-first, cloud-first world is support for an option called Continue On Your PC. If you're reading a website on your mobile device, you can send it to your Windows 10 desktop running Edge and not miss a beat—which fits in well with Microsoft's concept of a mobile workforce relying on collaboration to get work done.

SEE: Windows 10 power tips: Secret shortcuts to your favorite settings (Tech Pro Research)

Bottom line

There are many other new and improved features to be found in the new EdgeHTML 16. Almost all of them coincide with Microsoft's business strategy of helping users connect, collaborate, and produce in a mobile and dispersed working environment.

The new features improve Microsoft Edge to a point where it may well be worth your time to check it out—again. It is obvious that Microsoft is working hard to make Edge your default browser of choice, especially in enterprise environments. Perhaps it is time to give the new EdgeHTML 16 a proper test drive.

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About Mark Kaelin

Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.

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