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Microsoft shows off how Edge browser can quickly import extensions from Chrome

Mark Hachman | April 6, 2016
Edge may be far behind other browsers in the eyes of users, but the race isn't over just yet.

Microsoft’s Edge browser may be struggling to find devoted fans, but its developers are making every effort to bring it up to par, especially with extensions.

Over the course of a one-day Edge developer summit on Monday, Microsoft showed off how Edge could increase its number of compatible browser extensions by simply changing a line or two of code in an extension written for Google Chrome. And the company pledged to keep its security tight through an upcoming change to “sandbox” Adobe Flash, a popular vector for browser attacks.

Microsoft edge priorities
Morris laid out Edge’s priorities throughout 2016.

According to Edge’s principal program manager Charles Morris, the point of designing Microsoft Edge was twofold: To break away from the past 20 years of legacy code that Microsoft had built into Internet Explorer, and to set the “foundation for the next 20 years of the web.” For backwards compatibility of legacy enterprise apps, Microsoft ships both IE and Edge as part of Windows 10.

Morris said that 150.8 million users use Edge monthly, with the amount of Internet traffic from Edge doubling over the past month. Microsoft believes, based on data collected from the tracking tool StatCounter, that its browser share has outpaced Chrome for the first seven months of its life. Of course, that waves away the fact that millions of users automatically added Edge as part of Windows 10, and the fact that users are abandoning IE/Edge for other browsers in droves

Microsoft edge 4
Microsoft claims that the pace of adoption puts Edge ahead of Chrome.

Why this matters: With the relative ease that users can import bookmarks from one browser to another (though arranging them can sometimes be a pain), users can switch from one browser to the next with relative ease. Our tests indicated that the base installation of Chrome (with extensions switched off) consumes quite a bit of memory—but Edge was worse, as it’s both bloated and slow. The point, though, is that the race is never over, and Edge can still catch up. But without user-facing features like extensions, they won’t bother.

Extensions: as easy as that

Extensions for Edge, however, are already here, at least in the Insider beta software that Microsoft has distributed. There are about eight, including AdBlock and AdBlock Plus, which will block ads inside Edge, rather than the browser itself. Right now, the extensions have to be sideloaded, but soon they’ll be in the Windows Store.

Microsoft edge extensions
Microsoft’s Edge extensions, which are really just available to Windows Insiders.

 

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