I don’t go out of my way to find reasons to use the Microsoft Edge browser. I guess I’m hanging in because of grievances with Internet Explorer. But, last night as I was doing something else, a message popped up on my screen indicating that the Edge browser had been updated. Normally, I don’t give things like this a second thought but I thought I’d click through and see what was new.
So often, updates are bug fixes and things that would go unnoticed but the first of the “New” things got my attention. An “Edge bar”? Maybe Microsoft was going to sell me a beer? And it’s version 98; the latest Chrome is at 97.
I opened it and immediately got immersed. It was a solution for a problem that I’ve had with computers and the internet since I downloaded my first browser. I not only want what I am seeing in the current window but typically I want something else as well.
My solution typically has been the “Window Shuffle” to get both on the screen at the same time. I have an old external monitor that I got as payment for some custom work years ago and it is connected to the video out on my laptop so I do have two windows accessible that way. But, quite frankly, both of these solutions require a bit of planning and I don’t think about that sort of planning until I’m well into something. So, my typical solution is Alt-Tabbing through various windows to move information and/or my attention back and forth. The bottom line is that I’m always fudging around with things to get to the comfort level that I want.
Computers are pretty good at doing things well and quickly and all that but they typically work with whatever is on the top of the heap. The Edge Bar promises to have two active windows running on top of whatever screen that you’re using. No jostling back and forth.
I’ll confess right here; there are indeed times where I’ll switch to another window and then forget what I was doing in the other one. Maybe having them both up front and in my face will cut back on those moments!
I’m fortunate enough to have purchased a wide screen laptop when I updated my 2010 computer. So, I have a 17 inch screen which is really wide. The internet world, in particular, (and this blog too) like to only use part of the available screen real estate. So, while I have a good 17 inches, my normal routine uses 15 inches of it unless I do some work. I’ll be honest; my first look with the Edge Bar active was that the screen was too full and noisy and I gained a new appreciation for the borders around some screens but it did grow on me.
So, I open the Edge Bar (it has its own entry from the Settings Menu) and I try to activate it.
I say try because, when I read the fine print, my Password Manager is using a resource that it requires. So, I turn it off and active the Edge Bar. It shuffled my display off to the left to make room for it on the right. It comes with some pre-configured widgets but that’s all configurable.
There’s a search feature and, of course, it’s Bing but you have the opportunity to add other features so I wonder if I’ll still get recommendations when I add something else and you know that I will. Just because I can. But DuckDuckGo slid into place nicely.
I spent some time Sunday afternoon playing around with it. Pinning it, unpinning it, searching for things to add, web browsing, adding my interests, …
It’s the sort of thing that computers have always promised us – they’ll work for us instead of us working for them. The irony of me working my way through things is not lost on me!
When I need to go full screen, minimizing the Edge Bar is just a click away.
For right now, it’s an interesting new fascination. It will only get the true test when I try to do some work but I’m really intrigued. I like that I have that extra window of information and utility right there. With an external monitor it’s not immediately needed but there will come a time when we and our computers will be able to go on road trips and that just might be the real advantage for me for this functionality.