When will Microsoft’s Edge browser get extensions?

If there are attributes you are expecting to find that are not yet in Microsoft’s new Edge browser, then be ready to wait till this fall. The most crucial of these incoming attributes is expansion service, which might likewise be how Microsoft addresses the issue of Tracking Protection Lists and ad blocking – plus it will not be in Edge in RTM.

Fall is also when we will get more of these Cortana attributes we saw demoed in January, combined with Object RTC and sitemap lock. The latter allows you lock the mouse pointer in your browser if you are playing a match, which means you don’t inadvertently click someplace else and lose the match.

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Evergreen Edge

This strategy is part of what Microsoft means by calling Edge an evergreen browser – especially because it’s what web apps in the Windows Store are based on – although the update schedule isn’t yet set. So far, Edge has been getting new features about twice a month as part of the Insider program, and the Windows Insider program will continue after launch, but even users who aren’t Insiders will get frequent updates.

Being locked to the next version of Windows and rolling releases are now the same thing,” Sean Lyndersay of the browser team said at Build. “Windows 10 itself will be doing rolling releases and users will be brought along. The entire app platform on Windows 10 is going to be kept evergreen across the entire consumer base and Edge will move along with that. We haven’t worked out the exact cadence of whether it’s 45 days or 90 days or 73 days or whatever, though.”

The team is also looking at using release numbers to make it clearer for developers which features the Edge browser has in different flights. Edge will have PDF and Flash support built in, but other extensions will be based on what Lyndersay calls “the HTML5 and JavaScript extensions that are the standard on the web today,” not binary add-ons like ActiveX, which IE 11 continues to support.

Easy transition

The demos the Edge team gave of extensions running in the browser at the recent Build conference used a version of the browser that isn’t yet released, and used extensions that the Edge team adapted after getting the extension code from the original developers, like the Reddit and Pinterest extensions. In both cases, he said, “we were able to bring it over to Microsoft Edge almost unchanged, we were able to bring it up with very few changes to the extension itself.”

“We want to make it very easy for developers to bring extensions to Edge,” he said, but also noted that “we would like to have extensions do unique things with features we have in the browser.” The Skype team has written an extension that picks up phone numbers on the page and the Bing Translate team has written an extension that switches Edge into reading view and translates the site from another language at the same time.

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