Microsoft Edge: A developer friendly browser?

By Mark Bishop, Back End Developer in Mobas' Digital team.

With Microsoft’s recent announcement of its new Operating System coming to market, Windows 10 or Windows X if you prefer (Operating System naming fans may be wondering what happened to Windows 9), those of us with an interest in the world of the wide web have been waiting with baited breath for word of their next version of Internet Explorer. However, those among us who seek order in the madness have been waylaid by the forces of chaos, as Microsoft have veered away from their normal browser naming system, and have thrown away the ‘Internet Explorer’ handle (presumably by flinging it onto the same fire AOL threw Netscape Navigator on). For a time they looked to be naming this new browser ‘Spartan’ (clearly they’re trying to bleed the Halo universe for all it’s worth, hello Cortana...), but have now decided to use the moniker ‘Edge’ for their “all-new” browser.

There is some murmur around the technical internet community about this new browser and whether it can give Microsoft true credibility as a company who can build a platform that not only has a good user experience but is also good to develop for.

Some of you may be wondering why there is some doubt about Microsoft’s ability to impress the website developers of the world. Microsoft has a long reputation of releasing browsers that are difficult and downright troublesome to develop for; this reputation probably peaking at Internet Explorer 6. However, more recent versions are becoming progressively easier to work with.

With the ability to ‘ink’ a note onto a website page, store this and in the future share this with friend, Microsoft is looking towards a more social web browsing experience. Such a feature is clearly intended more for tablet users, even a professional PC gamer would struggle to draw a half decent shape using a mouse. Windows’ own helpful assistant Cortana will be better integrated with Edge, allowing assistive searching as you browse.

From a developer perspective it’ll come with some improved developer tools, but it will need to go a long way to pull us from Firebug and Chrome’s easy to use and detailed tools. And while it will support more of the advanced features found on the web today, it’s not quite up there with the likes of Chrome. The biggest boon for the web developer is that it’ll push more users towards a better and more advanced browser, although you could argue that’s a side-effect of upgrading the operating system.

Microsoft Edge will be released on Windows 10 in the summer, and will surely be coming to Windows phones at some point. We'll have a proper look at Edge once it has been officially released, so stay tuned...