Edge vs Firefox – A comparison of the Metro App with a Traditional Browser

Edge is the latest browser from Microsoft. It aims to replace Internet Explorer in coming years. Work has stopped on Internet Explorer and the developers are now focusing on Microsoft Edge so as to make it a good competitor against other mainstream browsers such as Firefox, Google Chrome, and Opera.

The main features of Edge were already discussed on The Windows Club. We also checked out difference in Internet Explorer and Edge. This post focusses on comparison of Firefox and Edge and believes Edge will not be much used compared to mainstream browsers – at least in the near future, until it removes certain restrictions.

If you are expecting intensive browser memory testing and such, in this post you will be disappointed. I am merely noting down my thoughts as an end-user here.


Problems with Edge Compared to Firefox

Firefox stands for a traditional Windows based application that has many dedicated users. Since Edge is a metro styled app, comparing them will be a difficult task.

To begin with, Edge provides no favicon of webpages in the first place so you can’t pin websites to Edge’s jump list as you can do with Internet Explorer or with Firefox and other browsers.

Changing the defaults in Windows 10 is a bit cumbersome task. You have to manually go to Settings > Apps and then change the default apps. This complication of the task got a strong reaction from the CEO of Mozilla’s CEO, who said Microsoft is forcing people to use Edge because the latter comes as default browser in the Windows 10 operating system and because most people (especially novices) will not know how to change the default browser in Windows 10. With other operating systems, including previous versions of Windows, it took just a click to change the default browser.

We’ll discuss other shortcomings in Edge as we continue to compare the browser app with Firefox.

Lack of Extensions in Edge

Edge still does not support extensions and addons (as of Aug 11 2015). That is a huge drawback and turn off for people wanting to use Edge. On the other hand, Firefox has tons of addons and extensions that make it easier for people using the browser.

Even though there is a system of marking webpages and sharing them with other contacts in Edge, most people will still not use it unless Edge supports third party extensions. For example, I have all my websites’ passwords with Lastpass. I can install the addon for Firefox or even Internet Explorer and use it. But when it comes to Edge, I will still need another browser to open my Lastpass Vault and copy the login credentials to use a website in Edge. That is not at all convenient. Thus, the features of Edge become irrelevant compared to Firefox when it comes to use of extensions.

I read somewhere that Edge might support third party addons from September 2015. Once Edge opens up for third party extensions, developers will take little time to modify their extensions so that they can be used with Edge. It remains to be seen how convenient it would be to use extensions in Edge. Until then, people will use other browsers, such as Internet Explorer, Firefox or Chrome, for their regular websites that require extensions for easier accessibility.

Reading view in Edge

For normal browsing, reading news and RSS feeds, Edge has an edge over Firefox because it has a special reading view. It also contains markers so that you can highlight parts of the webpage you are reading. You can share the website directly with others with the highlighted parts.

Though Firefox too has sharing feature, it lacks markers to highlight parts of websites. In this case, Edge scores a point above Firefox.

Page Rendering in Edge

One of the major flaws of Edge is that it presents an opening screen showing Edge logo for a while – probably as long as it is loading. That part makes it look like you have to wait until you can get to the interface. Instead, an icon indicating “working” or “loading” would have been better. With Firefox, there is no such welcome screen and hence it feels that it loads faster. In reality, both Edge and Firefox take approximately the same time to load if there is no home page – in fact, perhaps Edge loads a bit faster too!

The issue changes if you have certain home pages set in either browser. It then depends on the website to make you feel faster or slower. The website, if complex like MSN, will take longer to render – making you feel that the browser is slow.

The clarity of websites is better when you are using Microsoft Edge – especially in the reading mode. It beats Firefox when it comes to crisp display of text. This is based on my personal observation. I could not find any tools to make sure everyone has similar experience.

Customization Tools in Edge and Firefox

Edge can be customized. But to a little extent. You can change the theme to dark and you can change the default search engine in Edge. But that’s it. With Firefox, the options to customize are more as there are scores of extensions available that help in customization – other than the settings/options page of Firefox.

You can customize security options in Firefox but you have to make do with default security options in Edge as there are no options to customize the security. The changes made to Internet Options in Control Panel do not apply to Edge as much as they would apply to Internet Explorer.

This does not mean that Edge is not secure. It is just that you cannot customize the security provided by the new browser.

Sharing Websites to Social Media in Firefox and Edge

The share feature is present both in Edge and Firefox. The latter allows you to share to a number of social media platforms and to share a webpage via email. It won’t support markings and highlights as Edge does. But then, Edge has only two options – either email the page or share it to OneNote. I hope this will change in future as people like sharing things on social platforms as soon as they find something interesting. I think either an extension will come along when Edge starts supporting third party addons or Edge itself will start support sharing to social media in due course of time.

Bottomline – Edge vs Firefox

There is not much to expect from Edge for users who use browsers to get things done. Right now, it is just good for casual reading and probably, playing some online games. Coming to Firefox, it has years of hard work to support it – in form of tweaks, addons and extensions so the latter is better for people who need to get real work done.

This post checked out Edge vs Firefox with the perspective of an end user as of Aug 11, 2015. The new browser from Microsoft may grow over next few months and may grow fast. We’ll have another comparison then.

If you are interested in Edge, you may want to read Edge tips and tricks too.

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Arun Kumar is a Microsoft MVP alumnus, obsessed with technology, especially the Internet. He deals with the multimedia content needs of training and corporate houses. Follow him on Twitter @PowercutIN