Microsoft is experimenting with an old idea for its Edge browser that you’ll either love or hate

Microsoft Edge
(Image credit: Shutterstock / monticello)

Microsoft Edge might be getting a search bar that will sit alongside the main URL bar where you type in website addresses in the browser.

So, instead of a long URL bar at the top of the web browser, you’ll have a somewhat shorter address bar with a compact search bar nestling right next to it.

The idea is rather than having web addresses typed into the URL bar as well as web searches, the user can keep the latter separate. You can choose whatever search engine you want the bar to operate with, too.

Why split search out into a second bar? Well, it’s more convenient in some respects. Imagine that you’re reading a web page that gives you an idea, and you want to search the web for that. Instead of having to open a new tab, and fire up your search, you can stay on your existing tab, click in the new search bar, type the search query there, and the results will automatically be opened in a new tab by Edge.

This option has a toggle to turn it off, by the way, so you don’t need to have this second bar visible. Also, the feature is still in testing, with a limited rollout to the Canary version of Edge, as Deskmodder, the German tech site which spotted this development, pointed out.

As ever, features which are in early testing may be discarded depending on feedback from users.

Analysis: Don’t forget about privacy

Regarding that feedback, this is a somewhat divisive feature. There are slight time-saving elements here that some folks are keen on, as we already touched upon, and it bolsters your privacy, too.

What does it do on the privacy front? If you have search integrated into the address bar, the URLs you type can be fed to Google (or Bing, or whatever engine you use) depending on your settings, and that’s something which bothers more privacy-conscious types. Splitting search content into a separate bar means URLs aren’t being fed to the ever-present data hoover of the search machinery.

Even with those arguments, there are those who think this second bar is a waste of interface space – and an idea abandoned in the past (which is true). Although some of the best web browsers of today do still use this two-bar scheme of things, such as Firefox for example.

As is often the case, whether you like this feature or not will be down to personal preference, and exactly how you use your web browser, and your own particular workflow within the app. Although as noted, for those not keen, you don’t have to use the search bar, it’s just an option (and one in testing only, for now).

Via Neowin, Windows Latest

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Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).