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Microsoft Edge vs. Google Chrome: Performance, Design, Security and More

Google Chrome remains the king of web browsers, with around 60% browser market share as of December 2021. Microsoft’s Edge browser, which uses the open-source Chromium engine, sits in a lower position at around 12%, which is impressive considering the browser was only introduced in the last two years. Microsoft has pushed the new Edge to all Windows 10 desktops, replacing the older version of Windows 10 and giving Edge a built-in edge. Edge is also the default browser in Windows 11.

Which browser should you use? The two share many similarities, but some key differences make one the clear winner.

Design

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Let’s start with the obvious: how does each perform for general navigation? Well, in terms of design, both web browsers are almost identical. Many old-school design elements of the original Edge browser are gone, replaced by more rounded edges and cleaner interfaces.

Sure, the arrow buttons and other icons in Edge and Chrome are slightly different, but the URL/search bar is essentially the same, and the symbols for extensions and add-ons are in the same place. Right-click to the right of the tabs and you will see the same tab menu. In short, if you switch from Chrome to Edge, you’ll notice very little difference in your daily browsing. One noticeable difference, however, is the default search engine and homepage. Edge defaults to Microsoft’s Bing, naturally, while Google defaults to Google’s search engine. Fortunately, either can be switched at will and is only a temporary nuisance.

Both Edge and Chrome are built on the open source Chromium browser using the Blink rendering engine, and as such they are more similar than different.

Performance

The similarities continue in performance. Both are very fast browsers. Admittedly, Chrome narrowly beats Edge in the Kraken and Jetstream benchmarks, but that’s not enough to recognize it on a daily basis.

Microsoft Edge has a significant performance advantage over Chrome: memory usage. Essentially, Edge uses fewer resources. Chrome used to be known for low RAM usage, but these days it has become bloated. In one test, Edge used 665MB of RAM with six pages loaded while Chrome used 1.4GB – that’s a significant difference, especially on memory-constrained systems.

If you are someone who is bothered by how much memory the Google Chrome browser has become, Microsoft Edge is the clear winner in this regard.

Characteristics

Switching from Chrome browser to Edge is quite simple in terms of features. Simply install Microsoft’s new browser; accept the offer to sync your passwords, bookmarks, addresses and more from Chrome; and you go shopping. Although most modern browsers offer the same essential capability, it’s a great feature on its own.

Edge also has some features that Chrome doesn’t. For example, there’s Edge Collections, which lets you group similar web pages together and name them. You can easily access these groups by clicking on a collection, which quickly and easily takes you back to a particular operating state. Microsoft has also added an Edge bar that can float or run along the edge of a screen and provides a quick view of news and weather and access to certain Edge features.

A screenshot of the Microsoft Edge bar.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Then there’s the Editor, Microsoft’s built-in answer to writing assistants like Grammarly. Editor uses artificial intelligence to keep your writing fresh and promises to work well for anyone who doesn’t want to shell out money for another add-on.

Extensions are another feature offered by Microsoft Edge and Chrome browser, although in different ways. You can add Edge extensions from the Windows Store, which has a more limited selection, and extensions from the Chrome Web Store, although you’ll need to access them manually. So far, we haven’t come across an extension that doesn’t install and run on Edge without issue. Theoretically, this means Edge could gain more browser extensions than Chrome over time, but Chrome’s popularity makes the Chrome Store a common target for developers.

Edge also offers a read-aloud feature that will read everything on a webpage in a pleasant voice. This is a great accessibility feature that allows people with limited vision to access written words.

Both browsers support turning web pages into apps, and while the process is a bit different, the net result is the same. The apps work well on both platforms.

Finally, when you want to cast your content to another device, Edge uses Miracast and DNLA protocols, while Chrome streams to Chromecast devices. The preferable browser depends on the devices you want to cast to, although Chromecast is probably the most popular solution.

Chrome also has an advantage because it integrates with the entire Google ecosystem, such as Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, and Google Maps. If you depend on this ecosystem, switching to any other browser can be a challenge, although cross-compatibility is improving.

Synchronization

Google’s Chrome can sync just about every aspect of the browser across all systems. Its list is extensive, including everything from passwords to bookmarks to history and many more. Just look at how many things can be synced:

Chrome sync options
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Chrome handles syncing perfectly, allowing nearly seamless functionality between your phone, laptop, iPad, or anything else Chrome might be installed on.

It took a few updates, but Microsoft Edge has largely caught up with Chrome. While Chrome can sync themes, addresses, and phone number information and Edge cannot, Microsoft’s browser otherwise matches Google’s sync capabilities. With both browsers, you can easily transport your web experience from machine to machine.

Updated Microsoft Edge sync options.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Multi-device accessibility

Chrome works on just about every platform out there, including Chromebooks and Android. It can also be installed on Windows, Linux, MacOS, iPadOS and iOS operating systems.

Edge is also available on multiple devices, including Windows by default and macOS, iOS, iPadOS, Android, and Linux through installation. Although you cannot install natively on Chrome OS, you can install the Android version in a snap.

Security and Privacy

Edge has more privacy settings than Chrome, and it’s much easier to find them. For example, Edge can block trackers for sites you’ve visited and sites you haven’t visited. It may also reduce the chances of your personalized information being shared between sites. You can choose from one of three levels of tracking prevention, making it easy to select your comfort level. Edge also uses Microsoft Defender SmartScreen to protect against malicious websites and shady downloads.

Meanwhile, Chrome is limited to blocking third-party cookies. The browser has made precise efforts for safer browsing, including identifying dangerous extensions, downloads and websites. However, you will need to research the exact settings you want to change.

On Chrome and Edge, you can determine which websites have permissions on your devices and install an ad blocker or other extensions.

Chrome may be everywhere, but Edge has the edge

Surprisingly, we consider Edge a more elite browser, especially after its latest updates. The browser offers exceptional built-in privacy settings and uses fewer resources than Google’s browser. Additionally, Edge has used a variety of useful features, ones that Chrome simply can’t argue with.

All in all, Microsoft Edge’s serious updates have made it a seemingly better default browser than Chrome. Microsoft is apparently committed to making significant and continuous improvements to the browser, and so a more robust browsing experience may be coming soon. With Microsoft Edge continues to gain traction on Chrome, the browser war is heating up!

If you’re interested in how other browsers stack up, check out our list of the best web browsers, where we look at other hot competitors like Firefox, Safari, and more.

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