My to-do list for the Edge team
I’m very excited about Windows 10’s new default browser, Microsoft Edge. The team over there is killing it when it comes to performance, web standards, and interoperability. It also looks great in the new black theme (though I think the default white/gray one is super drab).
That said, in its current Preview form it is clearly not a finished product. With only a few weeks left until its first official release, I wanted to share my list of things that I feel are missing. So here’s my list of basic browser UI must-haves that are currently missing, as of 7/4/15 with build 10162:
- New Window from the task bar
- First, right-clicking the Edge icon and then selecting the “Microsoft Edge” entry should launch a new window, as it does with virtually every other multi-instance Windows app (including IE).
- It also wouldn’t hurt to have explicit “New window” and “inPrivate” buttons here (IE had the latter, and Chrome has both).
- Save As / Save Target As…
- Currently, file downloads always go to the Downloads folder and always with whatever name the server provided (or the browser calculated). This is unacceptable for oh-so-many situations.
- IE provides (as other browsers do) a context menu option on links to save the target with a different name and in a different location. IE also provided a “Save as” option in the info bar that asked whether you wanted to run or save a file.
- Jump list integration
- Edge currently has no Jump List on the task bar or in Start at all. This should have frequent sites listed for easy access and pinning.
- Back-button history menu
- There’s no drop-down or right-click menu on the Back button with the last N locations. I just hit a common problem where a redirect or JS bug on Audi’s site trapped me from going back. In IE I could right-click on Back and get the list of the last 5 or 10 pages, so I could skip past the trap or broken page to where I wanted to be.
- “Undo close”
- Or some way to get back to an accidentally closed tab. IE had this in the New Tab page. It could go there or in the menu. Right now the best I’ve found is to go History, but it’s actually pretty annoying to do that because History isn’t sorted by when tabs were closed, and if I have a lot of tabs open it can take a few minutes to figure out which history item is the thing I accidentally closed.
- Deleting address bar history
- In IE, if you mistype a URL (say “techmem.com” instead of “Techmeme.com”), or otherwise have something in your address bar auto-complete that you want to clear, you can just arrow down to it and hit the DEL key and it’s gone.
- Maybe this wasn’t discoverable, and maybe a UI affordance for mouse, or a hint, or something should be added, but in the meantime, at least enable the DEL key to work like it did in IE.
- Dragging files from Explorer to upload them to various sites doesn’t seem to work. I’m guessing this is just a bug but figured I’d note it here.
- Download manager
The IE download manager, while not perfect, was better in a lot of ways, including:
- Background downloads. Edge seems to terminate downloads if you close the browser window (and with no warning). Not cool.
- Separate window. Having the download manager in a separate window was very useful to me. For one, I could put it on a separate monitor to watch the progress of downloads. This also helps with the background download issue I mentioned.
- Actions and details. The IE download manager would let you delete files, show you their size, see the full URL when you hovered on the domain, or copy the download link.
- Taskbar pinning
- I’m not expecting this for RTM but I miss it dearly and it leads to me still using IE for many tasks. I really hope that if it doesn’t come now, that it comes in an update in the next few months.
- Some examples of pinned sites I have:
- Work team site / doc library
- Work project management site
- Windows dev centers (one taskbar icon that open both Windows and Windows Phone dev centers)
- On my home desktop I have a taskbar entry with 4 home page tabs, for my banks and financial accounts.
- In addition to providing quick access to these (especially useful for the ones with multiple home pages), IE’s pinned site mechanism really helps by “gloaming” these windows and tabs together on the taskbar (and giving them different icons in Alt+Tab and such). This makes it so much easier to keep my tasks organized versus any other browser I’ve tried.
- Oh, and this one is more minor I guess, but please kill the splash screen min-show timer. One of my gripes about Windows 8 was the really just awful decision redacted made to always show a splash screen on every modern app for a minimum length of time (which I think was something like 650ms or more plus a long cross-fade). It feels like maybe this has been shortened, but not enough in my opinion. On a decently fast machine, many apps are able to draw their UI fast enough that this should never be shown. I’m betting Edge on my SP3 would usually fit into this bucket, but instead I’m looking at a bright splash screen for half a second (and the OS is wasting cycles creating and drawing it) when I’m pretty confident there’s no reason for it.
- Of course, this situation could also be improved if apps were able to dynamically determine their splash screen image and/or background color (e.g. for the next launch). Then the launch could be a lot more seamless with a theme-appropriate background and loading UI that would transition more smoothly to the Start page.
I left off Extensions as we know that’s coming later this year. And while I’m looking forward to them, they’re actually not a critical part of my daily browsing experience, whereas several of the items above are.