Microsoft Edge promises faster start and less PC load: Here's how

There's a new version of Microsoft Edge coming this week, and the company isn't holding back on big promises for performance at BUILD 2021 today. "Microsoft Edge will be the best performing browser on Windows 10 when Microsoft Edge version 91 releases," the browser team insists, tapping two features – Startup boost and sleeping tabs – to gain an edge over rivals.

Startup boost is designed to cut down on the wait time involved when you first load the browser. To do that, it runs a core set of Edge processes in the background, so that they're already present when you need to start the software up in full.

The result is a faster load time, but Microsoft says that it won't add any extra resource load when Edge browser windows are open. It'll be a key part of Edge version 91.

As for Edge's new sleeping tabs feature, that's focused on cutting system load when you have a number of tabs open. That's generally the kiss of death for performance, regardless of which browser you're using, as things begin to bog down when you have multiple tabs to juggle. Like the name suggests, sleeping tabs will try to tame some of those you're not actively interacting with.

Ads on open tabs are now instantly put to sleep when those pages are in the background, for an instant resource saving. There are also other changes and tweaks that the Edge team has made, with the result being up to 82-percent memory savings based on Microsoft's experience with its preview builds being used internally. You'll be able to set how long it takes before inactive tabs are put to sleep – anywhere from 5 minutes of inactivity, through to 12 hours – as well as whitelist certain sites that are never put to sleep, such as your Outlook email inbox in the browser.

The speed bump comes as Microsoft prepares to finally discontinue Internet Explorer. Though we've heard words to that effect many times before, the final date for the browser's demise has been set for June 15, 2022. That gives a little over a year for developers to shift their remaining users out of IE and into Edge instead.

As of August 17, 2021, Microsoft 365 and other apps will end their official support for Internet Explorer 11. There'll be the Internet Explorer mode in Edge to help tide things over as the third-party transition takes place, Microsoft points out. Still, the main recommendation is that developers should have a plan in place to move users away from IE11 and over to Edge in a more straightforward manner.

It's worth noting that there'll be no business exceptions or extended support for IE11 on the desktop for any of Microsoft's in-scope platforms after that June 15, 2022 date. Internet Explorer Mode, however, will be supported through to at least 2029, however.