This week, Microsoft announced several more features flowing to Edge Stable from its internal Beta channel. These features include Startup Boost, Sleeping Tabs, Vertical Tabs and a more navigational History dialog. The company has also announced some welcome interfaces for Bing ̵
If you are unfamiliar with the Microsoft Edge publishing and downloading system, there are three Insider channels (Canary, Dev, and Beta) that present daily, weekly, and six-week updates in ascending order of stability. The new features debut there before finally entering Stable, where normal users will encounter them.
If you’re a Windows user, you can’t actually download new compilations directly to the stable channel. Instead, look for them in Windows Update or open them
edge://settings/help in the browser and ask Edge to check for updates for himself. If you also want to check out Edge Insider compilations, you can do it safely – they won’t replace your Edge Stable; they are installed next to each other, with separate icons in your taskbar, making them easy to distinguish.
The new feature of Edge Startup Boost is quite simple. Instead of killing all processes when you close the browser, it leaves a minimal set open and running. Microsoft says these continuous background processes reduce Edge startup time – whether opened by an Edge icon or opened automatically as an association with hyperlinks from other applications – by 29% to 41%.
Microsoft also says that background processes have very little effect on the processor and the memory footprint of the system as a whole. The new feature is enabled by default in Edge Stable Build 89, but if you don’t like it, you can disable it on your system – go to
edge://settings/system and deactivate
Continue running background apps when Microsoft Edge is closed.
The new Edge Sleeping Tabs feature automatically puts tabs in sleep mode – upgrading Chromium’s “tab freeze” feature – after two hours of background-free interaction. You can set this wait period manually if it’s not right for you, and Edge also uses heuristics to detect when sleep may be inappropriate (such as tabs that carry music in the background).
You can see which tabs are asleep due to their faded appearance in the tab bar; clicking on the sleep tab wakes him up and brings him back to the forefront. To our disappointment, there is still no option to right-click and put it to sleep manually – all you can do is wait for the browser to do it for you after a long period of inactivity.
Vertical tabs – a feature we first announced nearly a year ago – finally made it to the Edge Stable 89 this week.
Modern displays typically have almost twice as much horizontal real estate screen as vertical ones, and arranging tabs, application icons, and so on along the horizontal axis of the display, instead of its vertical, uses the workspace you have more efficiently.
Edge is certainly not the first application to notice this fact – Ubuntu started using a vertical application launcher (equivalent to the Windows taskbar) by default almost 10 years ago, for one example. We have found that more efficient use of on-screen real estate is a great idea, but many users have an immediate, strong negative reaction to such a major change in their navigation concepts.
Probably for this reason, Microsoft left the default orientation of the bar horizontally. If you want to surf like it’s 2021, the new vertical tabs are just a click away – and it’s back the way you found it.
Edge’s new History Hub is another welcome UX update and is easier to use than to describe. Navigating to History from the burger menu (or pressing Ctrl + H) opens your browsing history as a drop-down menu, not as a whole page.
The History drop-down menu also has a stick icon in the upper right corner – clicking the pin dynamically resizes the browser window, freeing up space for a permanent, fixed History panel on the right. The History screen stays in place and is visible as you navigate the web, whether it’s through links on pages or by clicking on the links to the history itself. This makes it much easier to find what you are looking for in the recent past.
Completing the delicacies this week, Microsoft has announced some updates on how it displays search results. These updates were also charged as Edge enhancements, but when we checked bing.com in Google Chrome on a Linux workstation, we saw the same results there.
Local Bing search results will start showing map sticks dynamically updated as you browse them. This makes it easy to sort your search results by geographic area – which isn’t always as simple as “nearest” or “farthest”. This feature is not yet fully implemented; Microsoft says it will be fully available in the United States in the coming weeks.
The search engine also adapts its search results contextually when it initially understands the broad category of what you are looking for. The results of the recipe carousels now include dynamically updated glasses showing caloric information along with the photo and metatext of the recipe, for example. Documentary search results are another good showcase for this update. They pop up in tiles showing boxes, titles, and a few other things; holding the mouse over each tile slide opens up additional detailed information about the movie.
Finally, educational searches can yield easier-to-digest infographic-style returns, instead of the simplistic, text-based results we’ve seen over the past two decades. It is not clear exactly which topics will or will not receive infographic returns or how they are generated, but Microsoft cites as an example an example of Bing’s search for a “giraffe animal.”