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I took Microsoft’s retooled Edge browser for a test drive and you can too

Several months ago, Microsoft announced it was gutting its Edge browser and rebuilding it around Chromium, the same open source platform that powers Google's own Chrome browser. The transition is going to take around a year, though you can already test drive an early version of Edge in its new form.

Microsoft has released the first publicly available preview build of its retooled Edge browser to developers, along with anyone else who wants to kick the tires. It's one of three versions that will be tested as the year goes on—in addition to the Dev channel, Microsoft will release more polished builds to a Beta channel, and less polished builds to a Canary channel, which will see new versions each day.

There's nothing in the Beta channel yet, but both the Dev and Canary channels have builds ready to download and install. You don't have to choose one or the other, if you don't want, and can install separate builds from each channel. The most stable ones are going to find their way to the Beta channel, followed by Dev and Canary builds (in that order).

The screenshot above is from the Dev channel (version 74.1.96.24). When first installing the browser, Microsoft offers to port your settings from Chrome, or start fresh. You're then presented with three different homepage layouts: Inspirational, Informational, and Focused. I chose Inspirational, which adds a background image. All three serve up a search bar and tab bar, with the Informational option adding news topics that you can browse.

I haven't spent a significant amount of time with the new Edge browser, but in poking around the web, it feels fast. It's also fairly functional for being so early in development. There is already an assortment of extensions that can be installed through the Microsoft Store, along with a toggle to allow extensions from "other stores," (i.e., Chrome Store), along with a bunch of settings.

If you want to test drive it yourself yourself, follow this link and choose your build.