Google Chrome has seen numerous security enhancements over the past few months, and even a potential change in Windows 10 might not help Microsoft edge out the browser leader.
The Edge web browser debuted as the default with the release of Windows 10 in 2015, replacing Internet Explorer. With the latest build in the Windows 10 Insiders Program, Microsoft said it will test a feature that could force some users into using Edge. The browser’s integration with Windows and overall security capabilities are a draw for Windows 10 shops, but with Google ramping up enterprise security features in Chrome, Microsoft has its work cut out.
“Right now while not a lot of websites — comparatively speaking [to other browsers] — have full support for Edge, this is going to grow, and rapidly,” said Willem Bagchus, a messaging and collaboration specialist at United Bank, based in Parkersburg, W.Va. “It takes a while for manufacturers to retool their applications.”
It’s unknown how many web applications are currently incompatible or don’t work well on the Edge web browser, although organizations can use Enterprise Mode to open sites that are more compatible with Internet Explorer (IE). United Bank relies mostly on IE because workers use legacy apps that won’t function on other browsers, but as the company begins rolling out Windows 10 this year, IT will consider whether or not to default to the Edge web browser, Bagchus said.
Chrome vs. Microsoft Edge
If users have a choice, they’ll often pick Chrome for its fast web data processing and an extensive library of add-ons. Google Chrome holds a big lead in worldwide desktop browser market share at 67.45%, compared to Edge’s 4.05%, according to StatCounter.
That data includes both consumer and enterprise counts, however, so it’s possible that Edge sees more than just 4.05% in businesses specifically. Windows 10 shops may choose the Edge web browser because it’s built into the OS, meaning admins can manage it through Group Policy and have more control over updates, depending on the Windows update channel they subscribe to.
“Edge is just a manifestation of a huge amount of infrastructure that Microsoft built on their back end,” Bagchus said. “It’s far better security models, far better certificate models.”
Managing policies and updates to Chrome requires IT to use a separate application called Google Update. Plus, the ability to take advantage of other Microsoft features, such as integration with Cortana, makes Edge easier to use because they’re purpose-built for enabling productivity on Windows.
The latest in Edge, Chrome
Microsoft could be trying to fight back against Chrome with its testing of a new feature in Windows 10, which forces links that users click on in the Windows Mail app to open in Edge, even if the user has set a different browser as their device’s default. But Windows Mail — which allows users to access email services such as Exchange and Gmail — is not a common enterprise client, because it lacks advanced features such as integration with a calendar. So this feature likely won’t make a dent in the enterprise, where Windows shops typically rely on Outlook.
To make matters worse for Microsoft, the latest version of Chrome in December came with a few new enterprise features. Site Isolation, which IT can choose to enable or not, keeps separate the renderings of each website a user opens, so an infected site could not potentially infect something in another tab. Chrome also added more advanced policies for blocking unapproved browser extensions.
Google last week added the ability to require that users sign into Chrome before accessing any websites, by simply activating two new group policies — a way of preventing users from opening any corporate links on unapproved devices. The company said it will add a reporting feature in the future that allows IT to view information about users’ extensions and more. Google also upped its game with the release of the Chrome Enterprise Bundle last May.
But with Windows 10 adoption on the rise, the Edge web browser may see soon see its day in the sun.
“I know Edge is going to be the future,” Bagchus said. “You want to use the tools the way they were meant to be used. Microsoft is making tools that work better together.”