The Chromium-based browser was previously only available in the optional “beta” channel in Flathub. A common practice which enables the publisher to get wider testing of the app before it gets visibility via the “stable” channel. Well, now it’s hit stable, so potentially many more people can enjoy what Microsoft Edge has to offer.
So this begs the question, what does Microsoft Edge offer to tempt Firefox, Chrome or Lynx users away?
Well, as you expect from any Chromium-based browser, it’s got most of the features you get from Chrome or Chromium, we take that as a given. Where Edge differs is in the additional bits they add, which Chrome users typically install via extensions.
Edge includes grammar, spelling suggestions and “advanced writing assistance”. On other browsers, the users often install Grammarly to obtain this functionality.
Edge also has the capability to offer coupons to save money while shopping online. On other browsers, Honey is a popular option here.
In addition, Edge has a built-in tab sleep function, to save CPU and power consumption for those of us who leave a ton of tabs open. Elsewhere The Great Suspender is a popular option to achieve this.
In terms of the user interface, it’s all very Chrome-like. In the same way that Chrome can sync your personal data (bookmarks, passwords etc) to a Google account, Edge can sync your data to an Outlook account.
On the first launch, Edge offers a few options to tweak the browser. One includes tweaking the behaviour when a new tab is opened. Users are offered “Inspirational” (ick), “Focused” (okay) and “Informational” – which feels very reminiscent of MSN from the late 1990’s to us.
Edge also features a killer vertical tab interface, in addition to the typical horizontal tab bar we’re all very used to with every other browser. If your tab addiction is bad, (or good, depending on your point of view) where every open website is represented by a tiny favicon, two letters and a close button, then rejoice! The vertical tab interface may be up your alley.
Here’s a comparison of Edge with the two tab navigation options. First, a modest set of tabs open using the traditional horizontal layout.
Now, with the tabs down the left-hand side. It’s way easier to see the website or page title. Simply click the little icon in the top left of the window to enable this view, or use [CTRL]+[Shift]+, (comma) to switch from the keyboard.
While Microsoft Edge can hardly be described as a brand new browser cut from whole cloth, it’s certainly different enough from Chrome and Chromium to make it worth a look.
Now, the mid-sized elephant in the room, this isn’t an official package. Like many Flatpaks in Flathub, this is a community-maintained build. It simply takes the existing Debian package, published by Microsoft, and re-wraps it for Flathub.
We’re not sure the legal beagles at Microsoft are happy with this. Last year there was an open discussion between the community maintainer and Microsoft, which looked promising. We have no way of knowing if Microsoft will object to this, but the community appear to have built the package in a way that shouldn’t spark ire with the Redmond behemoth. 🤞