Microsoft Edge Treating Browser Tabs as Separate Windows Is Oddly Exciting

By Joanna Nelius on at

Even though Microsoft has been causing a lot of headaches lately with feature changes, bugs, and some other unnecessary tomfoolery, it seems like it will hit a few subtle home runs according to the latest Windows 10 Insider Preview build. It offers some cosmetic changes, like theme-aware tiles in Start that will change the colour of the Start tiles based on what main colour you have selected in the Personalise section and Taskbar will also start off a little cleaner, only showing you the most relevant icons based on whether not you have a linked Android phone or Xbox account. But the feature I’m most excited about is the ability to Alt + Tab through Edge browser tabs like they are separate windows.

I don’t even use Edge at the moment. My life is tied up in Google Chrome. Yet this is the most compelling feature of Edge to actually make me want to switch – assuming it eventually rolls out to regular Windows 10 users. I’m sure it seems like such a small, weird thing to switch browsers over, but I’ve been relying on Alt + Tab so much more since I downgraded from two monitors to one. I love all the extra desk space, but not being able to quickly scan from one window to the next on another monitor feels, well, so much slower. I haven’t fully adjusted yet.

Opening multiple windows to Alt + Tab through has been my solution so far. Yes, it defeats the entire point of browser tabs and Ctrl + Tab in the first place. I know browser tabs were designed to get rid of all that window clutter in your Taskbar and that I should just Ctrl + Tab. But for all of Windows 10 flaws, the beauty in it is how adaptable it generally is to the average user.

Like dealing with the Taskbar. There are multiple ways to do things. You can make desktop shortcuts and completely ignore the Taskbar. Or you can leave your desktop icon-free and put all the shortcuts in the Taskbar and never touch the Start menu. Or you can leave the Taskbar for your most used programs and use the Start bar to scroll through the ones you use once a month. We all have different ways of doing things, and this new Edge feature is made with that same spirit.

I like having a thumbnail view of all my open windows. For whatever reason, it helps my brain more quickly remember what was on the page, and Alt + Tab is closer to emulating a dual-monitor experience then Ctrl + Tab (no, I’ve never liked the way Windows does the whole snap a window to one side of the screen thing). Also, it feels like I can cycle through windows faster than I can cycle through browser tabs.

Plus, have you ever tried to cycle through browser tabs backward? How do you contort your fingers to hit Ctrl + Shift + Tab all at the same time with one hand? Do you have to take your right hand off the mouse to hit tab? By treating Edge browser tabs as separate windows so we can Alt + Tab through them, that makes it much easier to cycle back through them with one hand.

It’s such a tiny, tiny, tiny thing, but this should be a standard thing with all browsers. Edge, you have my attention.