Windows 10

Microsoft Edge: A Review

My version of Windows 10 was subjected recently to the Creators Update, whatever that is. Its marvelous effects are entirely invisible to me, which is good. But at the end of the update, I was urged to use a new version of the Microsoft Edge browser. Well, it was more than an urging. The thing popped onto my screen at the end of the update, as if I had ordered it. But I hadn’t, so I closed it.

Curiosity got the better of me, so I did a bit of research and found that the new Edge is supposed to be faster than other browsers. I tried it, and it does seem faster. But I quickly abandoned it and removed it from my taskbar.

What went wrong? Unlike Firefox, which I’m still able to customize to match my browsing preferences, Edge is simple-minded (like the software engineers who designed it):

Extensions are almost non-existent. Of the several Firefox extensions that I use, Edge offers only Adblock Plus.

Some functions that are handled by Firefox extensions (e.g., find in page) must be accessed in Edge by going to a drop-down menu. But the functions must be reactivated every time Edge is re-opened. There’s no session-to-session memory of chosen functions.

One of the great Firefox extensions is Classic Theme Restorer, which enables me to have a menu bar, which is a hell of a lot easier to use than clicking on Edge’s single drop-down menu and searching through it in vain for the functions that I want to perform. Edge’s idea of functionality is to require the user to memorize a long list of keyboard shortcuts.

Classic Theme Restorer also allows me to position tabs just above the image area for web pages, which is where they belong. (Try it, you’ll like it.)

Thanks to Classic Theme Restorer, I am also able to have icons for the following useful functions in my tool bar and menu bar: change zoom, open new window, open last closed tab, show history, open the download list, subscribe to a site’s RSS feed, and adjust Adblock Plus settings. Some of those are extension-based functions that Edge doesn’t offer. Some others are available to masochists who like to memorize and use keyboard shortcuts instead of simply clicking on icons.

Zoom, which Firefox offers in 10-percent increments, is available only in 25-percent increments with Edge. As a result, the type on most Edge pages is either uncomfortably small or uncomfortably large. How wonderful is that?

I could dredge up more examples if I wanted to waste more of my time, but I’ll close with this observation: Edge plays badly with WordPress. Examples:

It’s not possible to copy text from a web page and paste it into WordPress’s visual editor by using the standard right-click operations. How does one paste in Edge? Using a keyboard shortcut, of course.

Worse than that, pasting web-page material into WordPress’s visual editor creates a mess; all kinds of extraneous coding appears and a lot of punctuation (e.g., dashes, quotations marks, apostrophes) is displayed as garbage. It’s possible to paste copied text into the HTML editor, but that results in the loss of embedded links.

To top it off, Edge just can’t keep up with WordPress’s background operations; the visual editor often stalls or goes blank.

Edge is aptly named. It’s at the trailing edge of browser technology. Microsoft strikes (out), again.

Microsoft: The Windows-10 Nazis

If your PC runs Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, you may wind up with Windows 10, whether or not you want it. And if you don’t have it by now, you probably don’t want it for good reasons.

Last August, I upgraded my PC from Windows 7 to Windows 10, just to see what all the fuss was about. Here’s what I learned from that experience:

  • It adds no functionality that’s of use to me — and I’m a heavy PC user (but not a gamer or developer).
  • It took a lot of tweaking of my privacy settings to ensure that I wasn’t sharing information that I don’t want to share (e.g., passwords).
  • Settings in general are harder to navigate than the settings in Windows 7, where Control Panel is configured much as it was in earlier versions of Windows.
  • In some instances Windows 10 doesn’t believe that I’m the administrator of my own PC, and won’t allow me to move certain files directly from one location to another. There’s a work-around, but it’s time-consuming and inconvenient.

There’s more, but the bottom line is that I learned enough about Windows 10 that I chose not to install it on my wife’s PC. And I recommended to others that they not bother.

Then I learned that if a Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 PC is set up to download and install Windows updates automatically, it will become a Windows 10 PC — like it or not. Yes, there’s a way to reverse the “upgrade,” but why should anyone have to undo what they didn’t choose to do in the first place?

I’m sure that Microsoft’s arrogant action is legally justified by the fine print in the license that almost no one reads when they buy and install a computer. But it’s the kind of action that leads people to seek out alternatives. Alternatives are already at hand (e.g., Mac, Linux, Chrome), and more will surface when the blood of Windows is in the water.

You’d think that Microsoft would have learned a lesson from the precipitous decline in the use of Internet Explorer relative to other web browsers, the rise of alternatives to Microsoft Office, and stiffer competition in other software markets.

It may be a long time before Windows is no longer the dominant operating system for PCs, but its dominance will end if Microsoft doesn’t stop acting like it owns the market. It doesn’t.