Microsoft Edge browser boost: These updates mean faster browsing, better battery life for your laptop

Also, Microsoft's big Win32/UWP unification tool WebView2 hits general availability and is included in WinUI 3.

Microsoft this week will release version 91 of its Chromium-based Edge browser, and will finally enable its performance-enhancing feature 'startup boost' as well as 'sleeping tabs'. 

Microsoft announced startup boost in October 2020 and introduced it in stable Edge 89, but in March suspended it to fix up issues

At Microsoft's Build 2021 developer conference this week, the company says startup boost will be coming with the release of stable Edge 91 later this week. This comes as it sweeps out Internet Explorer 11 from Windows 10, advising organizations to use Edge's IE mode for legacy applications. 

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To launch Edge faster, startup boost runs some core processes in the background and doesn't add extra resources when Edge windows are open. Microsoft's internal tests found Edge startup times improve by 29% to 41% and hopes the speedier performance will make it the preferred browser on Windows machines. 

The other performance feature for Edge is sleeping tabs, which promises to save a laptop's memory and battery life and was first announced in September. Microsoft has also been working on improvements before releasing it to all users. 

Microsoft claims sleeping tabs now saves up to 82% of the demand on memory. Some of the gains are made by putting ads to sleep when tabs are in the background on Windows PCs. 

For developers, Microsoft has made progress on WebView2, which has reached general availability and is now included with WinUI3 – the two core components of its long-running Project Reunion effort to unite Win32 and Universal Windows Platform (UWP) app development, and undo past mistakes with Windows 8 when it pushed unwilling developers to UWP. 

WinUI 3is the new native UI framework for Windows 10. WebView 2 is a control built on Microsoft Edge's rendering engine and used to display web content across parts of a native app. WebView 2 aims to help developers build hybrid apps that get a little closer to native apps, which have access to resources like the Windows file system.  

Microsoft released Project Reunion 0.5 in March and expects to release 1.0 in Q4 2021, ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley reported in March.

WebView2 is now supported across key app frameworks like Win32 C/C++, WPF/WinForms, and now WinUI 3. Microsoft notes it is decoupled from Windows, which frees up developers from needing to wait for users to update to the latest version in order to implement new features into web apps. 

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Microsoft also showed off its growing influence on Chromium, the open-source project behind all Chromium-based browsers. Microsoft has now had 5,300 commits accepted into the project. 

Edge Original trials remain an ongoing program for developers to test experimental APIs on live sites. Meanwhile, Progressive Web Apps built on Edge are now available in the Microsoft Store – a move it announced in October

PWAs, which are basically web apps, get a boost from access to APIs, such as Web Assembly, Web Bluetooth, Web USB, Web Share and more.