Microsoft Edge enables superior interoperability for web developers

Jonny Caldwell

Microsoft Edge

The team behind Microsoft Edge has been working hard to make sure their new browser engine will be able to properly, reliably, and quickly render web pages as best as possible. Over 45 new standards have been implemented along with thousands of improvements big and small to insure Edge provides the most seamless experience to its users. The new web browser engine EdgeHTML is based off of Trident (MSHTML), which was used in Internet Explorer. The Microsoft Edge team has done their best at an engine that is compatible with modern websites as well as older sites.

One of the most important changes to improve the experience on Edge was to change the user agent string that tells the web server what web browser is viewing the site. Although many of the modern sites typically automatically adjust the site layout to width of the browser viewing the site, some sites still rely on being able to read the user agent string to display different content for different browsers. All user agent strings provide more information about other browsers than the browser you are using.  

Internet Explorer 11 user agent string: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.3; Trident/7.0; rv:11.0) like Gecko

Microsoft Edge user agent string: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/42.0.2311.135 Safari/537.36 Edge/12.10136

Support for WebKit prefixed CSS has been added to render a much larger number of mobile websites. Microsoft claims that over 40% of mobile websites have improved rendering with this new addition.  

Microsoft says they care a lot about web developers getting consistent features across all browsers, so they spent a lot of time working on some of the most requested features like ES6, HTTP/2, XPath, capturing media such as the camera, and more.  

Another feature added was the ability to read malformed Meta-Refresh elements. Often, web servers use the Meta-Refresh to redirect mobile browsers to the mobile versions of sites. But some mobile websites use a malformed meta refresh tag, which has caused Internet Explorer to redirect in an infinite loop.  

Yet another issue is where developers give incorrect ways to define the character set for pages. This causes problems in rendering certain characters, for instance, pulling quotation marks. Microsoft Edge should fix that mistake my accepting incorrectly defined character sets.

When using the meta charset tag, utf8 is incorrect, utf-8 is correct.

Quotation mark error from Triton

Quotation mark error is fixed in EdgeHTML.

Sometimes, web developers apparently have to depend on incorrect behavior in some browsers, which leads to hacks and UA sniffing to fix the issue. For example, the scrollTop bug caused some major sites to depend on non-interoperable behavior, which was impossible the issue for all browser without messing up the web content. To fix this issue, Microsoft Edge has included support for the the document.scrollingElement property. 

With all these new enhancements to Microsoft Edge’s rendering engine, many users may finally have a reason to move from Chrome of Firefox, after all. In many instances, we may see Edge doing better at rendering pages than even some of the top web browsers available.