Microsoft Edge is getting a bunch of new features this week at Build
Microsoft’s Build 2021 developer conference starts this week. As usual, the big news drop comes right at the start of the show, so you can dig into the announcements in sessions later. As you’d expect, there’s a lot that’s new for Microsoft Edge at Build, including new features for web developers.
If you’re just looking for the shiny new Edge thing, Microsoft Edge 91 is coming this week. The big thing that the company is touting is performance improvements, but the features are things that we’ve heard about before.
First of all, we’ve got sleeping tabs, something that already exists in the Stable channel. This feature takes tabs that you haven’t used in a couple of hours and stops them from refreshing. With Edge 91, the feature is getting better.
Microsoft says that sleeping tabs now provides up to 82% memory savings because it now puts ads to sleep. That means that if you’re using a tab in Edge, tabs that you’re not using won’t be loading ads.
There’s another new feature called Startup Boost. This makes Edge launch more quickly by running processes in the background at startup. The Redmond firm says that when Microsoft Edge 91 arrives, it’s going to be the fastest browser available on Windows 10.
Performance is something that really matters to Microsoft. When it first launched Edge in 2015, the company would frequently boast speed improvements over Chrome, but now Edge is build from Chromium just like Chrome is. The company has to show why it can still be the best choice on its own platform.
There are a few other things that are coming in Edge 91, which we already know because the browser is in the Beta channel. There are some new theme colors that you can find under Settings -> Appearance, new Speech Recognition APIs, and there’s a new ‘Current Page’ option when you’re printing out PDFs.
Now, on to the actual Microsoft Edge developer news from the Build developer conference. Last fall, Microsoft made its WebView2 component generally available. The Chromium-based WebView2 replaces the EdgeHTML-based WebView, but since there are so many different ways to write apps for Windows, it’s happening slowly. Now, WebView2 is included with WinUI 3. It already supports Win32 C/C++ and WPF/WinForms, but strangely, if you’re building a UWP app, you still need to use WebView.
It’s also going to make the WebView2 Runtime more available, through dedicated installers and upcoming Windows releases. It seems like in the future, this should just be ubiquitous.
Finally, Microsoft reiterated its plans to kill off Internet Explorer and migrate everyone to Edge. Unless you’re on the Long-Term Servicing Channel, you won’t be able to use IE after July 2022.