Microsoft began deploying the new Microsoft Edge browser to its 151,000 employees this week, a critical step in the company’s worldwide rollout of the Chromium-based browser.
“Microsoft’s internal use of the new Edge has been pivotal for us,” says Steve Rugh, a principal program manager lead in the Microsoft Edge product group. He thanked the 100,000 employees who used pre-release versions of the browser, saying, “Their feedback helped us shape the product.”
Rugh called out his team’s direct partnership with Microsoft Core Services Engineering and Operations (CSEO). The IT engineering organization is currently deploying the new browser across the company, and the team that deployed the beta to several teams over the past year for scenario validation and testing.
“Microsoft gives us an excellent way to test how enterprise-ready we are,” he says. “Leveraging Microsoft early and often has helped us find and fix gaps—and it doesn’t hurt that, because they are down the hallway or in the building across the street, they are very easy to talk to and partner with.”
Herman Forrest, a senior program manager in CSEO, says that employees have been eager to use the new Microsoft Edge, both in preview channels and its final form.
“When you have a great product—when you a have clear use case, great examples, proof points on why it’s better than the legacy version of Microsoft Edge—then you don’t have to convince people to use it,” says Forrest, who is project-managing Microsoft’s internal deployment of the new Microsoft Edge. “People have been volunteering to try the new Edge on their own—that’s how we got more than 100,000 employees to try the most recent version of the beta.”
Just like it did with the beta, CSEO will deploy Microsoft Edge in waves, starting with an inner ring of early adopters who, through telemetry, and qualitive and quantitative research, ensure that everything is working correctly.
“We’ll do a phased deployment, scaling up to 15,000 employees,” Forrest says. At that point, the team also will make sure that major company portals like Human Resources, the company’s internal home page, and other key internal sites are working as expected. “We want to make sure everything is compatible and that all features are working correctly.”
Once confirmed, the browser will be deployed to the rest of the company in waves of 20,000 to 40,000 employees. That work will likely stretch into April.
“Doing this in a phased manner allows our communications team to send out targeted communications,” says Daniel Manalo, the CSEO senior service engineer in charge of the technical deployment of Microsoft Edge. “That way we minimize surprising people when the installation starts.”
Employees who have put Microsoft Edge through its paces have done so because they want to help and because they want to try it out, says John Philpott, a CSEO senior service engineer working on the internal deployment.
“We want people to choose Edge because they like the experience,” he says.
Philpott’s team will track how employees react and will address any issues or concerns they have. “So far everything has been really positive,” he says.
Employees who were on the beta consistently scored Microsoft Edge in the 150 to 160 Net User Satisfaction (NSAT) range out of a maximum of 200, and Philpott expects similar results when it’s broadly deployed. “That’s a huge improvement over the 70 to 80 that the old Edge used to fight for,” he says.
Exploring the new Microsoft Edge
Philpott is among the early users who are enjoying the new browser’s features and capabilities.
“The thing I like the most is that they’ve nailed proper syncing,” Philpott says. “Not only do my favorites, passwords, and things like that travel with me from device to device, but they also now allow me to switch from a work profile to a personal profile. I used to have to open a different browser every time I wanted to look at my personal sites—now I don’t have to have multiple browsers.”
It also includes Internet Explorer mode (IE mode), a feature designed for organizations that have older websites and line-of-business applications that run only on Internet Explorer 11.
“Now, when you open one of those applications, the link will open in IE mode right in Edge,” Philpott says of a mode that needs to be set up by IT admins during deployment. “Internet Explorer won’t open on its own anymore. Edge will be your home for the web no matter what you use it for.”
Forrest says that IE mode is designed to simplify the experience of moving back and forth between legacy sites and the current experience.
“One of my favorite features in the new Microsoft Edge is how well IE mode combines this modern rendering engine and compatibility with legacy Internet Explorer sites,” he says.
Employees have also enjoyed improvements to Microsoft Search in Bing.
“You can search both the intranet and the internet at the same time,” Forrest says. “Edge will serve you your internal and external results in one view. That’s a powerful, powerful experience.”
Forrest also spotlighted new privacy-enhancing features in the new Microsoft Edge, including Tracking prevention options and a new InPrivate search with Microsoft Bing when browsing in InPrivate.
“The fact that you’re an employee doesn’t mean we can get data on you,” he says. “Just like our customers, Edge protects your privacy.”
Tools for deploying Microsoft Edge
Rugh says there’s a lot to like in the new browser for the IT admins who plan to deploy it.
The company’s decision to build on the Chromium open-source engine means that far more websites will now work on Microsoft Edge, he says.
“This is where users are and this is where web developers are,” Rugh says. “Rather than find yet another way to fracture the web with yet another browser, we decided to build on and improve upon the Chromium open-source project that most people and developers are using.”
Rugh says helping to get everyone on one browser platform is good for everyone, including Microsoft.
“Now it’s easier to use our browser,” he says. “The new Microsoft Edge is still a front door to Microsoft and now it will be easier for more people to walk through that door.”
With Microsoft Edge, the company has layered many features and protections on top of that open-source platform, creating a browser with the best of all worlds.
“It has best-in-class compatibility with extensions and web sites,” Rugh says. “It has great support for the latest rendering capabilities and modern web applications, and it has powerful developer tools that work across all supported platforms.”
IT admins can use features that Microsoft built into Microsoft Edge on top of the Chromium open-source platform, including Application Guard and SmartScreen for enhancing browser security. Application Guard opens Microsoft Edge in a separate container to protect intruders from trying to access the device or operating system, and SmartScreen helps to protect against malware and phishing.
And unlike with the legacy version of Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer, updates to the new browser can be deployed when the admin wants. They no longer have to wait on the Windows Update cadence.
“We have a new version of the browser ship roughly every six weeks and we make security updates as needed,” Rugh says. “Now we can move as fast as needed to make sure we keep Edge secure and working.”
The fact that reboots are not needed when a new version gets rolled out got a thumbs-up from employees, CSEO’s Philpott says.
“The updates happened so seamlessly in the background during the beta that often times the only way employees knew that a new version had been loaded onto their machine was because a ‘what’s new’ tile would pop up in their browser,” he says.
Those kinds of improvements are changing the way Microsoft employees feel about the company’s Microsoft Edge.
“I really like the new browser,” Philpott says. “I use it on my home machine, which I think says a lot. The enterprise customer is important, but what people use at school and at home ends up being what they use at work.”
Interested in the new Microsoft Edge for your organization? Download offline installers and pilot it today.