Update, April 2016 — dismissed as "By Design"

Since I wrote the page below, Microsoft's support team closed the original post of the problem described below and moved it to a new page, but marked it as a "Duplicate" at its new location. Unfortunately, the most similar report of this bug at the new site has also been marked as "By Design," which strongly implies that the problem won't be fixed.

It's possible that this will be addressed in a future Edge release anyhow; the user bug-reports support team may be arbitrarily far-removed from actual developers, of course, and this may just reflect dysfunction or incompetence in the reporting pipeline. If not, though, my web sites—and scores of others—will simply not work very well in Edge. Sorry, Microsoft, but most people are not going to spend weeks or months redesigning web sites just because you've opted to dismiss a widely-reported and glaring bug as a "design feature."

I will, however, pass along a word of advice: arrogance and rudeness are not the best ways to win the hearts and minds of people evaluating new systems whose adoption you hope to promote. Barring a surprise future fix, your disappointed customers will have to mark this issue closed too; perhaps they'll file it under "Peril of proprietary software" or "See Edge (and Windows 10) alternatives."

Update: Summer 2016 — a simple workaround: IE

If Edge's behavior on this site's lower-left links becomes too annoying, there is a simple fix—click on Edge's upper-right "..." pull-down menu, and select "Open in Internet Explorer." This opens the page in IE, which does the right thing for these links (previewing their URLs on the lower right of the window), and is still present on Windows 10 (despite its owner's best efforts to demote it).

Naturally, installing Firefox or Chrome may be the preferred solution for many readers; at present Edge garners just 1% of the traffic at my sites, roughly 1 year after its release. Luckily, IE remains an option for others—at least until Microsoft decides to take it away without your permission, or coerce you into their camp with monopolistic and even puerile practices. Now if only there was an option to "Restart in Windows 7"...

Update: Summer 2017 — still no Edge fix, and Firefox is now broken too

As of Summer 2017's update for Windows 10, Edge has still not addressed the link-overlay-on-hover issue, and after two years it seems unlikely that it will. Alas, the company apparently has more pressing agendas. The good news is that two years later, Edge still gets less than 5% of the traffic on my website, behind Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer (which garner 59%, 18%, 11%, and 5%, respectively). Windows 10 S may try to force the issue by making Edge (and Bing) an unchangeable default, but this seems likely to fail.

Also in Summer 2017, the latest Firefox began overlaying links in the lower left of a page with a URL-hover popup just like Edge, instead of moving them intelligently to the lower right when needed as it formerly did. This is new in Firefox version 54; may be a genuine regression; isn't quite as disabling as in Edge; and might be addressed by an add-on. On the plus side here, Chrome, Safari, and Internet Explorer all still correctly avoid overlaying lower-left links. Hopefully, Firefox has not decided to parrot a proprietary browser whose market share is a fraction of its own.

Edge considered harmful: overlaid lower-left links

Both the books and training sites hosted here have been tested successfully on Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, and Safari. Any reasonably-recent version of these web browsers should suffice.

However, as of early 2016, the new Edge browser on Windows 10 is not recommended for these sites, until a known defect in this browser is repaired. Namely, Edge's URL display popup, issued whenever a mouse (or stylus) hovers above a link, can overlay links in a page's lower-left corner, rendering them difficult to select, if not fully inoperative. Even when no hover is intended, it's nearly impossible to activate any lower-left links—the disabling URL popup appears immediately when the mouse cursor reaches the link, leaving no time for a click.

In the sites hosted here and others, this impacts both a bottom-of-page navigation toolbar, as well as any other link that happens to wind up at the bottom left of the page.

Toolbar Links

When hovering over any of the leftmost links in these sites' bottom-of-page toolbars, or simply trying to select them at all, Edge's URL popup may cover multiple leftmost links. For example, below are screenshots of the book site's main page before and after the mouse cursor is moved to the toolbar's left side; the URL popup hides multiple toolbar links, and disables them in the process:

[Toolbar before]    [Toolbar hover]

Other Links

More generally, Edge's popup can overlay and disable any hyperlink that happens to wind up at the lower left corner of the page, due to a scroll or general text layout. For instance, below is the scene for such a link before and after the mouse cursor reaches it; the URL popup covers and deactivates the subject link, as well as any other links to its immediate right:

[Other before]    [Other hover]

Impact on Users and Sites

All the other browsers listed above avoid covering such links by displaying the URL popup more intelligently—on the left or right of the screen, just below lower-left links, or in a separate status bar. In Edge, users must either avoid a hover on links at the lower left corner of the page (e.g., by using touch if available), or perform a haphazard negotiation with the obscuring URL popup, clicking just below it, or clicking while moving the cursor in hopes of activating the covered link.

This is clearly an Edge bug. It impacts many other sites, including some of Microsoft's own, and will hopefully be addressed in an Edge update soon. As is, the only recourse for web developers seems to be either a full site redesign—which won't help for links that happen to wind up at lower left after a scroll; or a JavaScript solution to hide the URL popup altogether—which is deemed bad etiquette, won't work for users who have disabled JavaScript, and impacts search engine results.

The Bleeding Edge?

For more background on this bug, see the pertinent but unfortunately unanswered Microsoft support threads here and here. I also filed a report on the Connect site, though its visibility is unclear, and there seems no other venue for bug reports from normal customers.

In its defense, Windows 10 was released just 6 months ago as this is being written, and Edge may still be in a quasi-beta state. Given the vehemence with which Microsoft is trying to impose Edge on Windows 10 users, though, they should at least fix simple behavior issues like this which other browsers solved long ago.

There may be additional reasons to give Edge a wait-and-see, but they are beyond this note's scope. Its initial, default "choices" of search provider, for example, may to some seem either ploy to keep novice users in the Microsoft fold, or unnecessarily dark humor...

[Search settings]    [Search choices?]


[Python Logo] Home Books Programs Blog Python Author Training Email Search ©M.Lutz