Microsoft Edge: Microsoft's "see what sticks" development approach

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 1, 2022
Updated • Feb 1, 2022
Microsoft Edge

A sports ticker, a games button, buy now pay later integration, a quick actions bar on the right, Bing visual search for images, and more. Microsoft added several new features to its Edge web browser and is testing many more using A-B tests.

edge vertical tabs

Back in December 2021, I asked whether Microsoft was adding too many controversial features to its web browser. The general consensus of people who commented on the article was that Microsoft did so indeed.

Why is Microsoft adding or testing this many features in Edge? Is it a throw features at the userbase and see what sticks kind of development approach?

Adding features to a browser is not considered a bad thing usually. Some browsers, Vivaldi for instance, support lots of features that set it apart from other browsers. Microsoft faces tough competition in the browser market. Chrome is very dominant and there are plenty of other Chromium-based browsers besides Chrome that users may pick when it comes to the web browser.

For Microsoft Edge to compete and get users to use it, it needs to have convincing arguments. Microsoft's main advantage is the integration in the Windows operating system. Edge is the default browser on Windows 11 and Windows 10, and the first browser that users of new systems will use. Some use it only to download their favorite browser, others may stick with Edge because it is there.

Microsoft uses similar shady tactics as Google to promote Edge; this includes creating an artificial URL handler on Windows that opens web addresses only in the Edge browser, messages to users who attempt to download another browser, or the resetting of user changed settings regarding browsers.

All of these give Microsoft an edge over its competition, and Google is probably the only company that has means equal to Microsoft when it comes to promoting Chrome on its properties.

Some Edge features improve user choice. The vertical tabs feature is a prime example of that, as it moves the horizontal tab bar of the browser to the side, which improves handling in several meaningful ways and works well on widescreen displays.

The testing of new features could be an attempt to set Edge further apart from other browsers. Features like the integration of the sports ticker are unique to Edge, and if Telemetry suggests that users see these favorable, it could improve Edge's market share or retain it.

The downside to testing all these new features is that users could get the impression that a browser is getting bloated, especially if features don't improve core browsing capabilities. Simple on-off switches for these features may not be sufficient, if Microsoft decides to push the features in the browser, for instance by displaying popups to users or setting them to on by default.

Do the added features decrease Edge's performance in any way? I could not find any benchmarks, but adding more and more features to a browser could certainly impact some metrics, including the loading performance or size.

Closing Words

Microsoft is adding most new features to experimental versions of Edge first. The features get tested then by users and Microsoft uses feedback and Telemetry data to determine a feature's fate. Not all of the features will make it into stable versions of Edge in the end. Still, it feels a lot like feature overload currently, with Microsoft testing more and more features in Edge that at least some users might want to see implemented as extensions rather than features that everyone is exposed to.

Now You: what is your take on the development approach?

Microsoft Edge: Microsoft's
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Microsoft Edge: Microsoft's "see what sticks" development approach
A sports ticker, a games button, buy now pay later integration, a quick actions bar on the right, Bing visual search for images, and more. Microsoft added several new features to its Edge web browser and is testing many more using A-B tests.
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  1. Scott Wheeler said on February 3, 2022 at 8:40 pm

    I have to agree that it seems as if Microsoft is throwing enhancements and upgrades at Windows 10 and seeing what sticks. Worse, this is at the expense of the quality of their meaningful upgrades to the operating system. The upgrades keep coming fast and furious but the quality seems to have taken a hit.
    Additional observations:
    1.)Perhaps, could Microsoft provide a Windows 11 Lite which runs on the older hardware platforms but does not require the full blown Windows 11 hardware and with documented limitations.
    2.) Could Microsoft do a better job of maintaining their Microsoft password data bases. The summer of 2021 I can document that one of two different passwords worked 50% of the time and the second worked also 50% of the time. This appears kind of sloppy on their part.

  2. stoke the hate for profit said on February 3, 2022 at 7:41 pm

    > what is your take on the development approach?

    As opposed to..?

    Seems normal to me. Slow news day Martin?

  3. TelV said on February 2, 2022 at 2:47 pm

    @ Martin,

    You mentioned, “Microsoft’s main advantage is the integration in the Windows operating system….”.

    But my understanding of Edge is that it’s a separate installation just like any other app which can be downloaded. I’m basing my opinion on this article:

    If it’s intergrate like IE, then it’s a permanent fixture, but which is correct?

    1. Anonymous said on February 2, 2022 at 5:46 pm

      It still leaves leftovers. Like broken/orphaned shortcuts in start menu that cannot be deleted.

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on February 2, 2022 at 2:56 pm

      It depends on the version of Windows. Edge is certainly not as integrated as Internet Explorer was back in the days, but in Windows 11, it is the default web browser.

  4. Anonymous said on February 1, 2022 at 10:16 pm

    They can stick it somewhere else.

  5. Diara said on February 1, 2022 at 7:04 pm

    Martin pls edge or chrome which one should i choose

  6. allen said on February 1, 2022 at 5:20 pm

    Also known as the “monkey pooh” approach (and we’re the wall).

  7. ULBoom said on February 1, 2022 at 2:10 pm

    More money than sense. Profit at all costs.

    This will get worse and worse. No place to go but down when you become your own customer.

  8. Nealis said on February 1, 2022 at 1:21 pm

    Unfortunately it is the best non safari browser on the m1 mac bc of it exclusive battery saving features. All the other non safari browser drain the battery too fast.

    I hope Brave or Firefox incorporate something similar ASAP so I don’t have to use Edge. There are no extensions that implement the features anywhere as good as how Edge does it.

  9. Timothy said on February 1, 2022 at 10:31 am

    This is why Chrome will continue to dominate the web browser space. It doesn’t add worthless features like a sports ticker or games in the browser. It’s a simple, lightweight, fast browser. This is actually kind of embarassing on Microsoft’s part because Edge started off with such promise. The moment I lost hope was when they added the shopping and coupon features.

    1. beemeup5 said on February 1, 2022 at 11:20 am

      Edge vs Chrome. A true classic this one:

  10. owl said on February 1, 2022 at 10:26 am

    Based on my 40 years of experience with computers (corporate use: IBM PC/AT Compatibles, CATIA, etc., personal use: Macintosh, etc.), I am consistent in saying that all of Microsoft’s initiatives are irritating me., no matter what approach Microsoft chooses to take.

    My value system is to avoid the use of market monopolizing platforms such as Google, Apple, Facebook (Meta), Microsoft, and Amazon, which is my final and unchanging value system.
    In particular, we have disabled and blocked as much as possible the products and services of Google and Microsoft, the Twin Peaks of evil.

  11. beemeup5 said on February 1, 2022 at 9:56 am

    Browsers are supposed to browse the web. Now there is a worrying push towards PWAs (progressive web apps) because no one wants to reign in javascript and everyone wants their own tracking / monetization service embedded on every connected device.

    But Micro$oft in particular has completely gone off the rails after Windows 7 and every decision thereafter has been in the service of some grand vision to control everything as a service in perhaps a vain attempt to out-Google Google, or out-Apple Apple when their corporate managers haven’t a clue what they’re doing. Now they’ve bought out Activision probably to try and out-EA EA, as if one EA wasn’t bad enough. I’m just surprised they haven’t shoehorned NFTs into Edge yet.

    1. Anonymous said on February 1, 2022 at 8:00 pm

      Microsoft prefers resource-wasting marketing gimmicks over extensions.

      Microsoft: Give us a list of ‘recommended extensions’ if you like but leave the browser light on features. Even nag us with the list for the first three runs so we get the message but leave us free to add ONLY the things we will actually use.

      uBlock Origin, uMatrix, Fingerprint blocking etc.

    2. owl said on February 1, 2022 at 10:35 am


      I agree with your Comment “full text” and will share it.

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