Might the Microsoft Edge Browser be a significant challenger to Chrome in the future?

With the launch of Windows 10, Microsoft are putting Internet Explorer to sleep. Who uses Internet Explorer anymore anyway? So might Microsoft Edge be a significant challenger to Chrome in the future? Perhaps in time the Edge browser might drive more Bing searches?

That was the first topic on the most recent TWIO episode, and here’s what our guests had to say about it…

EMILY HILL: I think probably not, and I think I’m probably not alone in that. I think the problem that Microsoft are going to have is that however awesome the new Edge browser is, and let’s give it the benefit of the doubt and say it’s the best browser in the world (maybe), even if it is, how are they going to tempt people away from Chrome? Because Chrome’s sort of locked into that whole sort of Google ecosystem, so if you’re into Android and Google and Gmail and Google Play and all that stuff, there’s no real reason for you to shift over to Edge and at the moment I think Chrome’s sort of driving about 60% of most web traffic and Internet Explorer is languishing at about 7 or 8%. So it’s going to have to work pretty hard to increase that to any sort of significant degree, I think.

DAVID BAIN: I saw Alex nodding away a little bit there. Alex, are you thinking that this might be a browser that could challenge the dominance of Chrome?

ALEX TUCKER: Well I spoke to a member of our IT team. I haven’t had my hands on Windows 10 or the browser yet but they have, and they said that the browser itself is quite a good experience and it’s quite similar to Chrome in a lot of ways, but I agree that it’s going to be quite hard to tempt people away.

One of the things they did mention, though, is that there’s an internet search bar built into the Start menu for Windows 10 which does use Bing, so maybe not the browser but that would be a subtle way of increasing Bing’s share of search through the back door, really.

DAVID BAIN: It’ll be very interesting to see how it goes. I’m sure it won’t happen quickly overnight but if you look at browser trends over the years, Internet Explorer was massively dominant five, ten years ago, you had Firefox coming along and they were number one for quite a while but their market share’s shrunk quite significantly and for a while, looking at the very top of Firefox’s dominance, it was very hard to imagine Chrome overtaking that, but they have done, so perhaps the Edge (I don’t know whether to call it ‘Edge’ or ‘The Edge’ – it’s an interesting name)… What about Kevin? What are your thoughts on this one?

KEVIN GIBBONS: It’s an interesting one ‘cause I remember the names of when it was MSN messenger trying to get me to automatically install IE. I almost feel like in some ways Microsoft and IE in particular has had its day, but at the same time I think in that marketing, technical mind set I would use Chrome because I think it’s a lot better but the general population and people who are perhaps using Windows machines, there’s lots that would do it. But the people that would be using it are probably the people who were using IE before anyway, so I wouldn’t expect to see a major shift in market share. But like you say, you never know because IE was easily market leader, Firefox did incredibly well and now Chrome’s come along, so I don’t think anyone is indestructible at all. But I think Chrome is in a much stronger position to defend their market share than where IE were back when Firefox and Chrome took it. But let’s see. It’ll be interesting.

I agree with the point about the search. I think that could be a bigger game changer if people start using that instead.

DAVID BAIN: Yes absolutely. I mean, it depends on the quality of Bing search results, of course as well. It could be a negative thing if that’s not a good experience. Microsoft messenger, that’s a blast from the past there. So do you remember Netscape as well – did you used to use the Netscape browser?

KEVIN GIBBONS: Yeah, I did actually. I think I was back at uni in those days! A long time ago now!

DAVID BAIN: Absolutely. What about you, Pete? Do you reckon you might be a convert? I take it you’re a Chrome user at the moment.

PETE CAMPBELL: Yeah, I mean, I’ve kind of bought into the Apple family. I got the phone and then I got the Mac. I have Apple everything so I am a bit of an Apple fanboy. I tweeted this earlier. I took a look to see, searching for Chrome Windows 10 and Windows 10’s been in beta for a while but initially, the day after release, the spike for Windows 10 searches for Chrome just went like this, so people who were installing Windows 10 and then straight away searching for Chrome – on Bing, I guess – to then install it. So I guess that’s kind of a case in point for me.

But Microsoft are moving in, I think, an interesting direction. I think since they changed CEO last year they are now seeming to get a good AET behind them. I mean, products like HoloLens are quite interesting and Internet Explorer itself, when you look at critics’ reviews, it is getting rated quite highly. People are saying it’s a good, fast, reliable browser and it is moving in the right direction. And they are doing things where they’re trying to steal the market share away. I’ve seen that Edge allows near cross-platform compatibility with Chrome plug-ins. So to me, if I think, ‘Well what would make me move to Edge?’ Well it’d have to be faster, it’d have to be better and it’d have to have the same extensions that I use now, and they are trying to achieve that.

But to a power user, I don’t think anyone would switch to Edge, but I think the average man and woman on the street, I don’t think they really understand what a browser is. You know, my parents just click on the word ‘internet’ and they go. That’s how it is!

ALEX TUCKER: I think my ten-year old son found Internet Explorer on the laptop recently and asked me what it was! And as far as he’s concerned, Chrome is the internet.

Here’s where you can watch the reply of the show that features this discussionThis Week In Organic is the weekly show that debates the ramifications of the latest SEO and content marketing news. Sign-up to watch the next live show at ThisWeekInOrganic.com.

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