A few years ago, Microsoft reformulated its Edge web browser with a backend based on Google’s Chromium code base. Since then, the company has been trying to make Edge stand out primarily by adding extra features, mostly related to privacy, security and online shopping.
An interesting new experimental feature that may come to Edge soon is a Cloudflare-powered VPN feature, according to a support document released last week. A VPN (or virtual private network) provides an encrypted tunnel for all your network traffic, protecting it from the view of other devices on the same network.
Using the VPN service, called the “Microsoft Edge Secure Network”, requires you to sign in with a Microsoft account, as well as synchronization across bookmarks and extensions devices and lots of other features. It provides up to 1 GB of data per month, with no option to get more data if you want or need it – Edge will track your data usage and tell you when you are approaching your limit.
The low data ceiling means that Edge’s VPN does not replace a subscription to a VPN service for people running all of their traffic through VPNs or those who use them to circumvent geographical restrictions on video streaming. But it’s enough for occasional Wi-Fi use in the coffee shop, and it seems to be the type of use it is aimed at.
Using a VPN to protect the traffic on a public Wi-Fi network is definitely not as important as it used to be, given the widespread use of HTTPS and browsers, which increasingly prefer HTTPS connections over HTTP connections when available. However, if you manually force HTTPS connections and surf the Internet normally, you will still find lots that are unencrypted, and a VPN can protect things like DNS requests that HTTPS does not always hide.