Wolf Richter: Where the Heck is Microsoft’s “Edge?” (Left Behind for Dead)

Yves here. Funny, I try to avoid Chrome because Google, plus to add insult to injury, mine picked up a mini-virus (one of those thingies where it opens a new tab and tries to make you do some McAfee process. Not hard to exit it but still mucho annoying).

By Wolf Richter, a San Francisco based executive, entrepreneur, start up specialist, and author, with extensive international work experience. Originally published at Wolf Street

When Microsoft released its super-duper Windows 10 in July 2015, it aggressively pushed people with Windows 7 and 8 to “upgrade” for free to what has turned out to be highly functional and slickly presented corporate spyware. Since then, Windows 10 has been the default system pre-installed on most desktops and laptops sold in North America. It worked: According to StatCounter, Windows 10 now runs on 49% of all PCs (desktop and laptops) in North America.

All Windows versions combined, including Windows 10, run on 74% of PCs in North America, with Apple’s operating systems running on 21%, Chrome OS on 3%, and Linux on 1.6%.

Part of the goal of Microsoft’s push to get people to install Windows 10 was to get them to use Edge, the browser that comes with Windows 10, so that Microsoft could more seamlessly track what these people are doing on the Internet. But people are spurning Edge.

This is clear on my own site, where 42% of all sessions currently take place on mobile devices (smartphones 28% and tablets 14%). Laptops and desktops garner 58%. Edge doesn’t play a visible role on mobile devices. But given how widespread Windows 10 has become, Edge should be a dominant browser on PCs.

Microsoft lost the Browser War a long time ago – against Google. Edge was supposed to reverse that fate. But Microsoft is now getting totally crushed, despite all its efforts with Windows 10 and Edge.

This is confirmed more broadly by StatCounter: Edge has a share of just 3.8% on PCs, smartphones, and tablets in North America, despite the aggressive methods with which it has been pushed since July 2015.

Even Internet Explorer (IE) – which Microsoft stopped supporting and updating, and which by now has so deteriorated that it crashes constantly and thus has become essentially useless – still has a share of 6.1%.

So for PCs, smartphones, and tablets in North America, these are the current results of the Browser War, according to StatCounter:

  1. Chrome (Google): 49.8%
  2. Safari (Apple): 29.2%
  3. Internet Explorer 6.1%
  4. Firefox (Mozilla): 5.9%
  5. Edge 3.8%.

All other browsers combined make up the remaining 5.2%.

After Edge hit the market, its share inched up to 1% by September 2015, to 2% by March 2016, and to 3.8% by September 2017. It has remained stuck at this inconsequential level at the bottom of the heap, far below the major browsers.

Since July 2015:

  • Chrome gained 9.5 percentage points (from 40.3% to 49.8%)
  • Safari gained 5.3 percentage points (from 23.9% to 29.2%)
  • Edge gained 3.8 percentage points (from 0% to 3.8%)
  • IE lost 9.4 percentage points (from 15.5% to 6.1%), but has stabilized since July 2017.

This chart shows the developments in the Browser War in North America since January 2014 (data from StatCounter). Edge is the red line at the very bottom that is going nowhere:


In other words, Edge, at a 3.8% share, has gained less than half the share that IE has lost over the same period. The rest of IE’s loss went to Chrome. And the combined share of IE and Edge on PCs, smartphones, and tablets dropped from 16.4% in July 2015 to 9.9% now, a miserably low level it has occupied since March 2017:


OK, Microsoft is not a major entity in the mobile space anymore. But its browser should dominate on PCs, where Windows is the dominating operating systems. But no. In North America, on PCs only:

  1. Chrome: 59.89%
  2. IE: 11.15%
  3. Firefox: 10.41%
  4. Safari: 9.85%
  5. Edge: 6.97%
  6. All others: 1.72%

Since the arrival of Edge in July 2015 on desktops and laptops only:

  • Chrome’s market share has soared nearly 15 percentage points.
  • IE’s share got crushed, as planned, losing nearly 13 percentage points.
  • Edge picked up less than 7 percentage points.
  • Safari lost less than 1 percentage point.
  • Firefox lost over 5 percentage points.

Edge was able to pick up only part of IE’s losses and gave the rest to Chrome. The chart below shows the share of browsers in North America on PCs only:


Most revealing: The share of IE and Edge combined on PCs – despite the fact that Windows is the dominant operating system – has plunged 6.2 percentage points since July 2015 to 18.1% now, with Edge accounting only for about one-third:


There is nothing in the data that indicates Microsoft is making headway with Edge, whose acceptance appears to be, for all practical purposes, dead.

If people spurn Edge on Windows 10 machines for privacy reasons, it would be a step in the right direction, making it just a little harder for Microsoft to collect all their data so easily.

Ironically, the big winner in all this is Chrome – and the corporation behind it, Alphabet. “Ironically” because Alphabet considers browsing and personal data that it can obtain via Chrome a valuable asset to be horded and monetized endlessly via its advertising empire. And it designed Chrome specifically to facilitate this. So switching from Edge to Chrome isn’t doing much to protect your data. It just changes the location where it is stored, analyzed, and monetized. But so be it. People have gotten used to the simple fact that they have become the product.

Bitcoin takes over the media, in ten practically funny pictures. Read… Peak Bitcoin Media-Mania Yet?

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  1. Bugs Bunny

    Thing about Chrome is that you can adjust settings and set up extensions – both official and those outside Chrome Web Store – to essentially neuter the browser in regards to both data gathering and advertising.

    Firefox as well but it is not as fast as Chrome. I think a lot of users are hip to this.

    1. vlade

      The latest version of FFX is pretty swish for me. When I used Chrome for a while, I didn’t find it much faster, and the annoyance it brought with google interaction was just not worth it.

        1. Speck Kevin Pratt

          Like all uncommon uses of language you can use context clues to figure out the likely meaning and expand your vocabulary. This is how reading challenging works can expand your intellect. That, or you could be a linguistic fundamentalist and make a big deal out of people using words you don’t know. Either way.

    2. Jamie

      Thing about Chrome is that it keeps trying to install itself against my wishes on my computer without asking me. I think a lot of people who use Chrome didn’t chose it. They just gave up trying to fight it.

      1. Mark

        I’ve never seen this happen before. Google services will ask you to install Chrome, but I’ve never seen Chrome “[try] to install itself against [someone’s] wishes”.

        1. Ook

          Quite the contrary: on a clean Windows system, if you open Edge and search Chrome to download it, you’ll get search results that complain about how Edge is so much safer, faster, blah blah…and people still install Chrome!

        2. QuorthO)))n

          It sneaks itself into the default setting of updates of other software, knowing people will install it unknowingly, which is pretty unethical imo. I hate that browser.

    3. Other JL

      Agreed. If you go to e.g. https://myaccount.google.com/privacycheckup you can see the data that Google collects on you, and it turns out there’s quite a lot.

      Fortunately that link also lets you disable items. I’ve certainly customized my settings.

      Unrelated, I’m really surprised that FF share is so low. I would have guessed 20%. It’s a good browser.

      Disclaimer: I am a Google employee, although I don’t work on anything related to Chrome or user data.

      1. elyena

        Actually, the only way you can disable items is by signing in, thereby clearly declaring to Google who you are and everything you think. Personally, I never use a Google function that requires sign-in, especially after they disabled my first account for unknown reasons. I’ve come to distrust anyone who wants even more information about me than they can pick up automatically.

    4. DHG

      I just spurned Chrome for the new fast Firefox, Chrome disabling my ad blockers automatically was the last straw for me, will never touch it again.

  2. The Rev Kev

    I’ve never used Edge as I refused to ‘upgrade’ to Windows 10 so a question of other commentators here – anybody used this browser that can account for these abysmal figures? It must be a bit of a shocker if it cannot even beat a browser so old that it probably has code for the Mosaic browser buried in it.

    1. Bugs Bunny

      It’s slightly faster than IE and has got a very minimalist “digital” interface because MSFT moved the functionalities to hidden menus — which make it harder to set up to avoid data gathering, etc. What is does have is a native “share” function built in for social networks, which is something that Chrome could use but is just a data gathering tool for MSFT. Have a look at the Wikipedia for more:


      1. Joel

        At least initially, it was missing popular plugins such as Lastpass.

        Granted, those plugins have their own issues.

        Also, as Bugs said, everything hidden so hard to use.

    2. TK421

      Like the author, I found Internet Explorer to be essentially nonfunctional, so I switched to Chrome and never looked back. Plus I resented being forced to upgrade to Windows 10, which made me antagonistic toward Microsoft products in general.

  3. Louis Fyne

    too bad firefox’s share is slowly eroding…

    If you’re on a desktop and use Chrome or MS, try Firefox + “NoScript” or quickjava

    your mileage may vary.

    1. Lord Koos

      I was surprised to see Firefox not doing better, I’ve been using it for years. Very occasionally I will use Chrome if FF can’t display a certain page.

      I don’t get why anyone would use either of the top two, but then I also don’t get why so many intelligent people still bank with Chase, BoA, Wells Fargo, etc.

      1. Lord Koos

        On the other hand, I do use Windows 10, but only after going thru some contortions to protect my privacy. It can be done but MS is not making it easy. You have to do some research to get rid of the spyware, and there are some third-party apps that can help.

      2. Daryl

        Safari: Default installs and the walled garden nature of iOS. Both Chrome and Firefox on iOS use Apple’s rendering engine because of technical restrictions placed by Apple on third-party apps.

        Chrome: It’s pushed heavily through google search, and is indeed a superior product to Edge.

  4. Dan Lynch

    As Vlade said, Firefox 57 makes it competitive for speed. If you left FF somewhere along the way because it had gotten too slow, consider giving 57 a chance.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Running Ubuntu on a new laptop that has Firefox 57 installed. People, it’s a nice, fast browser, and I can do everything I need with it.

      No Chrome on this machine. And I’m using DuckDuckGo as my default search engine.

  5. justsayknow

    So why is it “with all the money in the world” Microsoft can’t do anything well?

    My local upscale mall has an Apple store of course. Most phenomenal retail operation I’ve ever witnessed. Incredibly busy with “ beautiful shiny people.” Upstairs above them is a Microsoft store. Incredibly empty. An entirely predictable outcome. Very bad for image but yet they still built the store. Head scratch.

    1. Joel

      Microsoft Surface devices are amazing.

      Microsoft’s not so great with software. Also, being forced to “upgrade” to Windows 10 when it brought no noticeable improvements over Windows 8. But the alternatives are Chrome or Mac now that Linux on desktop is dying and really Linux on desktop was always going to be ruined by the nerds making everything for nerds.

        1. Anarcissie

          I have read that Consumer Reports has strongly disparaged M$’s Surface offerings, so be warned.

          As for their software, I hate it, having been forced to code against it for many years, so I’m too prejudiced against it to give any rational judgement. Yes, Linux has been crippled by nerdism. Not long ago I read some Linuxoid complaining that Ubuntu was too easy to install. Not like the good old days when you could spend two weeks installing Debian on a PC.

          1. Joel

            The fact that there are 20 distros to choose from is itself a big symptom of the underlying problem.

            Also, Microsoft has me addicted to touch screens.

  6. Jason Boxman

    It’s a shame so many people are stuck using Chrome, a browser with a UI that makes browsing awful if you have more than a few tabs open. It also ships with a built-in ad-blocker, although many sites detect these now and refuse to load if you don’t disable it. (Was nice while it lasted.)

    I’ve been using Opera for a decade now. Recent versions are based on Chromium, just like Chrome, so Opera works everywhere Chrome does. (Some sites still stupidly use user-agent strings to check for compatibility, but you can launch Firefox or Chrome for those rare cases.)

    1. RMO

      I’ve tried Chrome out on a desktop computer and a few times when I’ve needed internet access on my Android phone – neither experience impressed me in the least. The generic browser that came with my phone works considerably better than Chrome (not least because it lets me simply look at a damn map rather than trying to get me to install the Google application!) and the desktop version (on a Windows 10 machine) seemed definitely worse than Firefox and no better functionally than IE. I still use IE on my Windows 7 desktop but I do very little online work with it. That computer exists for the purpose of gaming, word processing, spreadsheets and rudimentary photo+video editing. 99% of my internet browsing is done on a Macbook (OS 10.12) using Firefox. The only problem I have with that is that it always crashes when I attempt to quit the program. It doesn’t really interfere with work, it’s just weird. Incidentally the crash happens even if I reboot the computer, start Firefox, open any webpage (even the most basic) and then try to quit so it’s not a case of overloading the computer.

  7. Joel

    A big issue for browser adoption that you don’t know about unless you make websites:

    Browser testing. Designers won’t test on a browser with low market share, so there’s a chance websites won’t look as good or work as well on them.

    At this point, most designers will test first on Chrome, then on Safari, and then on Firefox. Then maybe maybe they’ll test on IE, though there is so much hatred for Microsoft because of the horrors of IE 6 (don’t ask, but I’d guess that billions of dollars worth of productivity hours were lost worldwide designing around its flaws) that many will refuse. That’s FOUR browsers to have to test on. Now you say I have to test on a fifth? And why shouldn’t that fifth browser be the default Android browser that many mobile users are still on?

    1. Speck Kevin Pratt

      IE 6 convinced me to find a profession other than web development. It seems a lot better now though.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Likewise, me. I used to be a web designer. Trying to make things work on IE6 is one of the main reasons why I got out of that field.

    2. Knifecatcher

      This is exactly right. Each additional browser tested requires more testers (read: $$$) and only the top few can justify the cost for most companies.

      Even worse, it appears that MS used a new custom layout engine for Edge based on the Trident engine used for IE, rather than one of the commonly used engines like Webkit or Gecko. For the non-nerds in the crowd that means there’s a very good chance that web pages are going to look and work differently in Edge than in Firefox, for example, and to make it look right might require custom code to detect the browser and adapt the layout accordingly.

      From a user’s standpoint it means that they can’t be sure web sites are going to work right in Edge, and lacking a compelling reason to use it most folks would just fire up Chrome instead.

      1. Skip Intro

        Microsoft recognizes independent standards like the web or java or opengl as threats to their platform dominance, and actively sabotages compatibility while promoting massively compromised, inferior technology. it is a way of extracting rent from their near monopoly, in the form of extra work for developers, whose investment in the technology and APIs binds them to MS. It seems people have wised up, and resent being cannon fodder in MS API wars. The market has spoken.

        1. blennylips

          Ah yes! Remember “United States v. Microsoft antitrust” back in the nineties? We found out MS’s internal strategy, summarized as “Embrace, extend, and extinguish”.

          I think they innovated this much used plan.

          Recent headline from technewsworld.com:
          Google Resurrects Embrace, Extend, Extinguish

          This almost sounds like a plot for a novel. Microsoft creates a successful strategy called “Embrace, Extend, Extinguish” and then promptly forgets it, resulting in a string of failures.
          Google Resurrects Embrace, Extend, Extinguish

          Google, which up to now seemed happy to repeat Microsoft’s mistakes, accidentally picks up a successful Microsoft practice and uses it against Apple — likely taking out a number of its Android partners in the process.

  8. rjs

    re: “Internet Explorer (IE) – which Microsoft stopped supporting and updating, and which by now has so deteriorated that it crashes constantly”

    not in my experience…i am still running a customized hybrid version of IE8 that’s loaded with addons (& which, btw, has no html 5 tracking cookies) and seldom crash…trouble is some html 5 designed sites dont display right, necessitating a switch to Chrome or Firefox for them…

  9. Strategist

    I switched to Cliqz as my browser when Ghostery recommended it. Any comments, cognoscenti?

    I get far worse performance with anything in Windows 10 then I do with an old laptop still running Windows 7 and Opera browser.

  10. pete

    I remember refusing to upgrade to windows 10 for a very long time then I got concerned about security and I actually paid to upgrade… I really regret it and cant decide if i should try to go back to 8.

  11. jfleni

    If you do not use Linux (about 20 available very good, easy-to-use, secure aystems), then you might just as well plug the cable into the thievery and swindling of the giant ear that monitors all.

  12. Westcoaster

    Edge pretty much sucks and I wouldn’t use ANYTHING Google unless you held a gun to my head. Luckily there’s Firefox.

  13. The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit

    I keep forgetting about Edge. Thank you for reminding me.

    So I can go back to forgetting about it. :-)

    Seamonkey for first choice, F’Fox or Chrome for the occasional site that Seamonkey can’t handle.

  14. bones

    I’ve seen a few comments saying Firefox has improved. Firefox was my former browser of choice, and I persevered with it until about a year ago, but it finally became intolerably slow. Has it improved in the last year? I am happily using Opera now.

    1. Aleric

      In my experience Firefox is equivalent or better than Chrome for most sites – except for ones written in cutting-edge Google-sponsored frameworks (Polymer, some permutations of Angular 2), which sometimes don’t even render on Firefox. It looks like an echo of what Microsoft tried with IE6, but with a lot more technical competence. So I use Firefox as much as possible – especially for web development – if your site works with Firefox it will work with any other browser.

      One thing that can kill Firefox performance on Windows 10 is this security setting: “Prevent accessibility services from accessing your browser” – make sure this is enabled!

    2. Optic7

      Yes, version 57, released just a few weeks ago, is MAJOR improvement. It’s actually a major rewrite of key aspects of the browser and underlying rendering engine. It’s now on par with, and in some cases faster than, Chrome. Give it a try to see what you think.

  15. Steve

    Microsoft catches a lot of flak for being insecure but in reality it is 3rd parties that create the security holes. Edge makes your browsing more secure by only supporting HTML5 and blocking other technologies like ActiveX and VBScript. It also sandboxes your browser so that a web page doesn’t have direct control or access to the rest of the computer. Unfortunately, this means that many websites “don’t work” on Edge but people blame the browser rather than the website.

    1. Skip Intro

      Microsoft catches a lot of flak for being insecure but in reality it is 3rd parties that create the security holes. Edge makes your browsing more secure by only supporting HTML5 and blocking other technologies like ActiveX and VBScript.

      I’m pretty sure that VBScript and ActiveX are MS technologies, so the flak they catch for being insecure is due to their own near-criminal negligence in rushing these insecure technologies into peoples’ browsers, apps and OS, just to undermine a secure 3rd party alternative, java.

  16. Jack

    I think one reason FF % is so low is that it isn’t really used on cell phones. And mobile internet usage is much greater than desktop now. Many people do not even use a desktop pc anymore. FF was slow and I think v57 sped it up, but I didn’t like the new layout or the fact that so many of the plugins I used were disabled. So I switched over to the FF ESR version. As far as Windows 10 is concerned I will never, ever use it. My laptop runs on 7 and my two desktops run on a modified version of 8.2 (Classic Shell so it runs and looks like 7). I keep Chrome on my pc’s as a backup for some websites that do not function well on FF. Whenever I have to log into Google for something I automatically clear my cache and cookies when I am done.

    1. Optic7

      A few things:

      I use Firefox on mobile (Android). Works great. Version 57 has a neat feature where you can send stuff on your mobile Firefox to your desktop Firefox and vice-versa.

      Version 57 is a major step up in performance, owing to the fact that it’s a rewrite of some key components. It’s now as fast or faster than Chrome.

      I understand that the reasons why they got rid of the technology that some extensions used to use were to make Firefox more secure and to make it faster. I will take both over any particular extension. I’ve found suitable replacements for the the few extensions that haven’t updated to the new tech.

      Windows 10 is a great operating system. Don’t believe all the naysayers. If you’re concerned about the telemetry (info sent back to Microsoft) that people were going on about when 10 was released, realize two things: one, Microsoft backported that telemetry to Windows 7 and 8.1 as part of system updates, so you’re not losing anything in that respect by moving to Windows 10; two, pretty much most every piece of software and hardware you use sends back telemetry data. Your phone, your Mac, and your desktop programs and mobile apps, including your browsers.

      One other thing to keep in mind is that you won’t be able to stay on Windows 7 for internet use much longer, as they will stop releasing security updates in almost exactly two years from now. You will either need to upgrade to 8.1 at least, or move to Mac or Linux.

  17. philnc

    Yes, Edge is awful, although not nearly as awful as Internet Explorer. Edge was an effort by MS developers to adhere to Internet standards, instead of breaking them, which is admirable. A missed opportunity, I think.

    Chrome is the clear leader right now, but as others have noted is the lesser of two evils when it comes to privacy. Having said that, I’m not convinced the market share numbers reported by the major stats companies are reliable, although I think they try their best to get it right. But having had the benefit of seeing the same methods applied in a large, controlled, environment where the actual breakdown of browser makes and versions is known from other sources (like enterprise software management systems), I’m skeptical.

    With its new architecture, it looks like the latest version of Firefox has pulled ahead of Chrome both in speed and stability. Anecdotally, I’ve experienced much faster load times and far fewer crashes with Firefox in the last few months since we started testing them side by side.

    On privacy, while the defaults in Firefox still send telemetry to Mozilla, that’s much more easily turned off than in Chrome (although the fact that Chrome’s final shipping code is closed source means its difficult to verify that it won’t ever “phone home”, even if you disable everything in user accessible settings). A lot of people objected strenuously when Mozilla enabled DRM handling in Firefox, but I think it actually advanced the cause of security because it meant those who need or want to access protected content wouldn’t have to use a less privacy-minded browser like IE or Chrome to do it.

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