Microsoft Edge, Beta, Dev, and Canary: Which One Should You Choose?

Edge Browser Types Featured

Microsoft has released a new Chromium version of its Edge browser, which comes with many cool features. However, when you go to download it, you have four different options to choose from. You can either download the regular Edge, the Beta branch, the Dev branch, or Canary. What does each one do, and which one is the best version for you?

Let’s break down each of these versions and look at where they shine to see which one you should use.

The Four Versions of Microsoft Edge

Microsoft Edge now has a Chromium base, which uses a similar framework to what Google Chrome uses. As such, Microsoft can test future Edge features, much like how Google Chrome has its own testbeds.

As such, when you download something other than the regular version of Edge, you’re downloading something that’s a work in progress. Just how much of a work in progress your version is, however, depends on which one you downloaded.

1. Microsoft Edge

First up is the regular Microsoft Edge. This is the version you get when you visit the Microsoft Edge official website and download the program from there.

Edge Browser Types Stable

The regular version doesn’t contain any cutting-edge experiments. The features within the regular version of Edge have been tested and tried before it arrives on your PC. As such, out of all the versions of Edge, this is the most “boring” one; however, that also means it’s the most stable.

If you’re not someone who likes to be on the cutting edge of what a browser is doing, you should definitely stick with the main branch of Edge, and doubly so if you don’t like buggy features, as (hopefully!) all the bugs were ironed out during the beta process.

2. Microsoft Edge Beta

When you explore further than the regular version of Microsoft Edge, you’ll find its beta version first. Unlike the regular version, the beta version is downloaded from the Microsoft Edge Insider page.

Edge Browser Types Beta

When you use the Microsoft Edge beta, you get a big update every six weeks. These updates have been through two phases of testing already but still need a little more time in the testing ring before they’re entrusted to the main branch.

As such, the Edge beta is a great mix of both stability and cutting edge features. The features have already been through the worst of the bug testing, but you’ll still see and try out new additions long before people on the regular branch get to use them. While it may be a little risky to use the beta channel for important work uses, there shouldn’t be any problems with personal use.

3. Microsoft Edge Dev

This is where things get a little bit rocky. Like the beta, you can get the Dev version from the Microsoft Edge Insider page. Unlike the beta, however, the Dev version gets an update every single week. This gives the Microsoft Edge team enough time to implement, test, and push out a feature but not enough time to ensure it’s 100 percent bug-free.

Edge Browser Types Dev

The Dev build is a great option if you want to help Microsoft find and squash bugs that arise in the browser’s new features. It’s also great if you want to develop extensions for Microsoft Edge, as you’ll have a fleshed-out preview to help develop your tools. This means you can ensure your extension will work with future releases of Edge.

4. Microsoft Edge Canary

Finally, we have the most chaotic of the lot, Canary. Canary is called such because it represents “the canary in the coal mine,” with a high chance of buggy code appearing.

Edge Browser Types Canary

Again, you can get Canary from the Microsoft Edge Insider page. This build is updated every weekday with whatever features the Edge team was working on the day prior.

This means you’re at the forefront of what’s new for Edge. You’ll be able to play around with every new feature the day after it’s been developed. However, it also means there are plenty of bugs and issues that can arise when trying out newly-coded features.

Canary is a fantastic tool to use if you want to see all the new, shiny features Microsoft has planned for the browser. You’re essentially getting a new Edge browser every day! While it’s not recommended that you spend a lot of your time in the Canary build, it is very interesting to boot it up and see what has changed. It’s also great for those who love to find bugs, as you’ll be experimenting with the newest code Microsoft has to offer.

Which Is Best for You?

To recap on the different versions of Edge:

  • The main Edge branch is best if you treasure stability over flashy new features. It’s best to use this one for important and professional work.
  • The Beta branch will have bugs, but it’s also the most stable version of the three Insider builds. Try this one for personal use if you want to see the new features in their (relatively) bug-free glory.
  • The Dev branch is great for extension developers who want to see how their projects work with future updates to Edge. It’s also a good pick if you want to go bug-hunting and iron out the finer details.
  • The Canary branch is great for seeing all the new features that Microsoft has planned and bug-testing. It’s not advisable to use the browser extensively, however.

Now that you know which version of Microsoft Edge to use, check out these flags to extend Edge functionality and improve its performance.

Simon Batt
Simon Batt

Simon Batt is a Computer Science graduate with a passion for cybersecurity.

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