Microsoft has released a new update to its Edge web browser that includes a new sidebar that lets you reply to emails, use parts of the Office suite, and more.
Having previously been confirmed as under development, the new sidebar is another attempt by the company to lure you away from other browsers like Google Chrome, Opera, and others.
As Microsoft explains in a blog post, (opens in new tab) for some reason you can access a large number of features such as Office files, your Outlook email, play games and reach useful tools such as a clock, a calculator and a dictionary.
You can start it by going to the three dots at the top left, and there will be a ‘Show sidebar‘ option at the bottom or by pressing Control + Shift + /. You can’t change the format, but you get six options, ready to choose from.
The ‘Discover’ feature is welcome enough where it will give you bits of trivia as you browse the web, from recipes to movie trivia. There’s also the calculator and other features instead of reaching for the taskbar.
However, the Office tab leaves a lot to be desired, as clicking one of the apps opens the web page for the apps in question. This also applies to Games, which makes us wonder what the point of this sidebar is already.
It almost harks back to the pop-up bars of older web browsers where you could install a search engine bar below the address bar. Or if you were to install an app, there would be an option to install a toolbar.
The above is an example of how you could install a lot, most of which are not very useful. The sidebar reminds me of this, essentially being a group of links and some useful tools, but not much else.
Microsoft can do better here than trying (and failing) to catch up with other web browsers.