Discovering the Microsoft Edge Browser in Windows 10

by [Published on 7 Jan. 2016 / Last Updated on 7 Jan. 2016]

Here we discuss the new web browser introduced in Windows 10, called Microsoft Edge. We’ll look at the new features, differences from Internet Explorer, and a few tips and tricks.

Accessing Internet Explorer is still possible

Remember, although Microsoft has made Microsoft Edge the default browser in Windows 10, Internet Explorer is certainly still available. If you can’t find an icon on the desktop or shortcut on the start menu, simply type “internet explorer” into the search field on the Windows taskbar. You can do a simple left-click on it from the search results to open it. If you plan to use it regularly, however, you can right-click the shortcut from the search results and select Pin to Start and/or Pin to Taskbar.

There’s another way to access Internet Explorer, especially useful if you’re using Microsoft Edge and come across a site that requires Internet Explorer. In Microsoft Edge, click the menu icon in the upper-right corner and select Open with Internet Explorer.

Features removed that were in Internet Explorer

Microsoft Edge isn’t an updated Internet Explorer; it’s a whole new web browser. One of the biggest technical differences is that it’s a modern UI app that can only run on Windows 10. Other than running it inside a virtual machine of Windows 10, it cannot run from prior Windows versions.

One big deciding factor for many right now on using Microsoft Edge are it’s lack of add-ons. Currently, the browser doesn’t support any browser add-ons or toolbars (other than the built-in support of Adobe Flash), but Microsoft says support for third-party extensions is coming in 2016. For instance, this means right now users can’t install security toolbars to help identify bad links, ad blockers to remove advertisements from sites, or install third-party password syncing tools. These are just a few examples of add-ons users might be currently using on Internet Explorer or their other favorite browser.

Support for two older scripting languages aren’t supported in Microsoft Edge that were in Internet Explorer: ActiveX and VBScript. This might not be a wide-spread issue, but certainly is for any websites or online application still utilizing these legacy languages. Of course, users can always revert back to using Internet Explorer for those sites.

Internet Explorer included a feature called Compatibility View, which would emulate legacy versions of the browser for the website you’re on, which could be automatically enabled if the browser detected the need or manually enabled in case you ran into issues with the site that might be caused by an incompatibility with later versions of Internet Explorer. In Microsoft Edge, only the automatic functionality of this feature is included.

New features in Microsoft Edge

Microsoft Edge includes integration with the new Siri-like personal assistant debuting with Windows 10, called Cortana. You have the option of typing or talking questions for a response from Cortana.

One simple, but useful, feature is the sharing capability that was added. Unlike Internet Explorer, you won’t have to install a toolbar or add-on for sharing capability: simply click the Share button on the Microsoft Edge toolbar and a slide-out pane appears listing websites or services you can share the website link or screenshot to. Although you do have to install the Windows apps for the websites or services that you’d like to share to. For instance, if you want to share to Facebook friends via the browser, you must install the modern UI app for Facebook from the Store.

The new Reading List feature allows you to save shortcuts to articles and webpages you’d like to save for later. This is similar to favorites, but the idea is to have a separate list for readings and articles, which you might only want saved temporarily until you get a chance to read them. The new Reading View feature is accessible by pressing the book button on the browser toolbar. This will ty to display the current article or webpage for better viewing, such as striping out ads and other junk, while leaving the main text with your preferred format and size.

The annotations features of Microsoft Edge allow you to easily take notes, write, doodle, and highlight directly on webpages. Click the Make a Web Note icon on the browser toolbar and screen shot of the webpage is displayed where you can make the annotations and then save or share it.

Bringing in favorites from other browsers or computers

Bringing in the favorites from other browsers installed on the same computer is easy: click the menu shortcut in the upper-right corner of Microsoft Edge, select Settings, and then select Import favorites from another browser.

Microsoft Edge cannot directly import favorites from an HTML file, like other browsers support, so you can’t easily transfer them between different computers. However, there are workarounds:

To transfer favorites or bookmarks from another browser (such as Chrome or Firefox) to a Windows 10 computer: export the favorites or bookmarks from the other computer, install that same browser on the Windows 10 computer, import the favorites or bookmarks into that other browser, and then use the method already discussed to transfer them over to Microsoft Edge.

To transfer favorites from Microsoft Edge to another Windows 10 computer: manually save and transfer the favorites from and to the default data location:

C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Packages\Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge_8wekyb3d8bbwe\AC\MicrosoftEdge
\User\Default\Favorties

Changing the default search provider

Bing is the default search provider of Microsoft Edge, but you can change it to your favorite. You’ll find where to do this in the advanced settings of Microsoft Edge, but can be confusing if you miss one important step: first you must go to the website (like Google.com) and then you can make the change: select More actions (...) in the upper-right, select Settings, and then scroll down to select View advanced settings. In the list under Search in the address bar with, choose Add new. Then you’ll see the search engine you’re on, which you can select and click Add or Add as default.

Resetting or reinstalling Microsoft Edge

In Internet Explorer and most other browsers, you can reset the browser settings, useful when encountering browser issues from malware or corruption. Microsoft Edge, however, does not offer this ability via the GUI. Though Microsoft Edge is supposed to be more of a protected app and less prone to issues, I’m sure it will happen to some users over time. When it does, keep in mind you can still manually reset or reinstall the browser:

Navigate to C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Packages\ and delete the folder titled Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge_8wekyb3d8bbwe.

If you cannot delete it, first try right-clicking on the folder, select Properties and on the General tab in the Attributes, uncheck the Read only check-box. If you still cannot delete the folder, you may need to take ownership of the folder and/or give the user full control: right-click on the folder, select Properties, select the Security tab, click the Advanced button, and then apply the desired changes.

Once you have successfully deleted the Microsoft Edge folder, open an elevated PowerShell prompt: in the search field on the Windows taskbar, type “powershell”, right-click Windows PowerShell from the results, and select Run as administrator. Then type or copy/paste the following into the PowerShell window and hit Enter:

Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers -Name Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register "$($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml" -Verbose}

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The Author — Eric Geier

Eric Geier avatar

Eric Geier (Dayton, Ohio) is a Freelance Tech Writer and Author specializing in computer networking.