Microsoft is setting some high goals for its new Chromium-based Edge browser. As Chuck Friedman, corporate vice president for Edge, told me, he wants Edge to hit one billion users – a number that will begin to compete with Chrome numbers. First, however, Friedman's team is scheduled to release users version 1.0 of Edge in January.
It's no secret that Microsoft went to Chromium with little despair. In fact, Friedman, who joined the team about two years ago, called it an "existential crisis" that raised questions about why consumers would even want to use the old Edge. "When they introduced me, we almost experienced this existential crisis. Okay, what do we want to do? There was something like that moment, why Edge? Why would users choose this? Did we deliver on significant issues? "At the time, he didn't really answer these questions, so the team went back to the basics to find out what value Microsoft could give specifically in the browser space ̵
The fact that Friedman leads the Windows 10 Consumer Experience Management team – trying to overcome the wrong steps of Windows 8 – before launching the Edge Product Team also clearly shows how important this product is to Microsoft.
Friedman claims that there is still a lot of work to be done in the browser space. "There is a new set of problems that feel like having legs," he told me. "And then it wasn't about solving the problems of the last five years, but about solving the problems of the next five." To do this, the team needed to get past the original Edge compatibility issues – while still acknowledging this, at least in the desktop environment, the browser still had to be legacy.
Clearly, privacy is paramount to anyone in the web browser business, including Microsoft. Friedman noted that while people were generally aware of the privacy issues that come with surfing the Internet, they lacked security tools. "We have reached a point where we recognize the promise of the network, open access to all the information in the world, we feel great, but the price of all your information as part of that body was wrong," Friedman said. And so that also became a focus for the team, but looking at all these issues together – combined with an added focus on security – the Edge team looked at how it all fit into the entire Microsoft suite. "It's not just about the operating system. It's not just a search. But it's actually a full M365, a combination of an operating system, plus security, plus productivity tools. "
But Friedman also voiced something I heard from the Google Chrome team, which is that the web is highly dependent on today. about an ad model, which, at least for now, is a major source of revenue for most companies that publish online. This can be a hard balance to achieve. The way Microsoft approaches this is by focusing on transparency. "The user needs to know where their data is and not know what the data is and how it is used," he explained. So users should be able to know how to use their data and have control over it.
"There are those in our industry who believe that we must absolutely reach a point of utmost confidentiality and control. And I think there is a small set of users who prefer this. I also think there is a certain element of what breaks the net. And I think it has the potential to undermine the ability of publications to monetize in a way that is reasonable. "He also claims that about half of them prefer targeted ads to non-targeted ads – but what makes them uncomfortable is that they have no control over it.
By default, Microsoft blocks third-party cookies in its browser. To that end, it uses the same white sheets as Mozilla, but also regularly updates this list when a site can demonstrate that it allows users to delete their data – and thus hopes to encourage a wider range of players in the advertising industry to offer users these controls.
However, Edge is also a great tool for business users, so the team began to look at how it can improve overall browser performance for those users as well as users. This is where the idea for collections comes from, and Microsoft takes what is a hybrid between bookmarks, scratching pads and reading lists that are not yet ready for wider presentation, but which are available behind
but the team found that users often copy and paste Edge content into Office products – so expect the company to do more in this area. "We do a better job integrating around collaboration with Microsoft Office properties, which all have great web experience. But, frankly, we have to meet them in part and help them do more. I'm glad about the opportunity to almost rebuild Office web properties with the browser. We can do more innovative work there. ”
Another area the team is looking at is section management. "The chaos in sections is an interesting problem. It still exists. I don't think anyone has done a great job in solving it, "Friedman said. How exactly this will look remains to be seen.
However, one thing we will not see immediately is integration with Cortana. This is part of the current version of Edge Edge Chromium, but this is something Friedman still doesn't seem quite ready to introduce in the new version.To be useful in the browser, he says, most of the time a personal assistant must be right. , he remains to see. He thinks there is potential there, but what real-world conversion looks like
Once version 1.0 ships, the team plans to release about two or three major new browser features each year, with collections possibly the first one.
Friedman also acknowledged that there are still many users that use Edge right now. There are about 150 million of them. And they use Edge because the browser is Windows. These "low-confidence users" as Friedman described them are not as likely to download a different browser if the new Edge is too radical. Instead, they will go out and buy a different device, like the iPad, which they see as a simpler experience.
But for more experienced users, Microsoft is obviously creating Edge as an alternative to Chrome. The team is trying to give them a relatively frictionless path to switch. Finding that balance is tricky, but Friedman thinks it's possible, thanks in part to his work on Windows.
"My last gig was working on Win 10. I came across the Windows 10. Basic user experience product team inherited the Windows 7 and 8 codebase and said, OK, how do we unite these users in a way that ultimately drives make them both feel good about the product. It was just as interesting a challenge when you have […] genuine empathy for users coming from many different spaces. ”