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Microsoft’s New Enhancements Could Put the "Edge" Back Into Search

Microsoft has introduced its new browser, Edge, as a replacement for Internet Explorer. The move could put the company’s search functions back in the game, according to industry participants. 

The new browser has a sleek, minimalist design that boasts built-in Cortana support along with reading and digital ink note-taking capabilities.

Edge could just be the thing that puts Microsoft, and Bing, back on the map, says Thom Craver, vice president of development and IT at Internet Marketing Ninjas.

“Anything that puts more attention on Bing will be good for Microsoft,” Craver says. “[Bing] recently saw its search share break 20 percent for the first time. While Internet Explorer has a bad reputation with many developers, non-techies have no idea how bad of a browser it has been. Even the name, ‘Edge,’ feels like a cutting-edge new toy. And they’ll likely port it to X-Box and other mobile devices for a complete experience. As long as the Internet Explorer moniker stays hiding, they have a real shot at it catching on.”

While Cortana’s voice integration features aren’t baked in to Edge just yet–right now they’re only in Windows 10 desktop–the search aspect of Edge could potentially rival that of Google Now. “Cortana is aimed to be an assistant,” Craver says.”By using information about prior searches, Cortana can provide an experience similar to Google Now. While it is truly more for Windows mobile devices and your desktop, Cortana will integrate with Edge, acting as a pop-up on certain sites you visit where Cortana deems it can help you. For example, if you visit a local business web page, Cortana may pop-up in your browser offering directions, or other Knowledge Graph-like info such as phone numbers and operating hours. It is important to note that Cortana won’t pop-up on every visit to such a site. For this, it will use your browsing and search history, should you choose to share it with Microsoft.”

If Edge is indeed as fast and compatible as Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of Microsoft, intimated at yesterday’s Build event, the new browser could be a major coup for the brand, says Craver.

“[Microsoft] said that existing Chrome and Firefox extensions would be able to be used with a few modifications,” Craver says. “This would be huge for developers. Having existing, familiar plugins like Majestic’s backlink analyzer, Firebug, or SEOQuake completely available would eliminate barriers that would otherwise prevent people from switching browsers. If it’s as fast and works as they claim, this could be a home run for Microsoft.”

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