Microsoft Outlines Coming Edge Browser Improvements
Microsoft on Tuesday described coming Microsoft Edge browser improvements for IT pros, end users and developers as part of its Build event announcements.
Developers are getting a preview of WebView2. IT pros face getting the Chromium-based Edge browser turned on for their organizations by default. End users will get a more user friendly credentials experience when clicking on work links, among other highlights.
These sorts of additions will be coming soon, with exact timelines not specified.
Chromium Upgrades Coming Soon
Microsoft gave notice that it is planning to upgrade all Windows 10 devices, except for those using the Enterprise or Education editions, to the new Chromium-based Edge browser. It'll happen via a gradual rollout "over the course of the next few weeks," the announcement indicated.
Microsoft had previously described this coming switch from the EdgeHTML-based Edge browser in a Twitter post back in December. The Chromium upgrade will happen via the Automatic Updates service unless blocked beforehand by a configuration change.
Information Protection, Sync and Search Support
Microsoft noted that the Edge browser is now supported by the "Windows Information Protection for Windows 10" service, which lets organizations discriminate between personal data and protecting corporate data. It includes the ability to conduct "audit reporting for compliance," too.
Microsoft added the ability for Microsoft 365 subscribers to get work results in a browser search via an added Microsoft search in Bing capability. It's turned on for Microsoft 365 subscribers at no added cost. Users just need to be signed into Bing with their work credentials, and they'll get a "Work page" in Bing's search results.
Microsoft also is adding the ability for IT pros to control the types of data that are allowed to sync in Edge for end users. Microsoft's example is the ability to block passwords from syncing. This sync enhancement for Edge was described as "coming soon."
Improvements for End Users
Since last year's Build event, Microsoft has added various feature enhancements to the Edge browser. It has Tracking Protection for privacy, Give Mode search in Bing and something called "Collections."
The Collections feature lets end users collect content from across multiple Web sites and pages. It's now getting new support from Pinterest, which will supply additional content recommendations. Users also will be able to export their Collections content to Pinterest accounts, as well as to Microsoft OneNote, which is expected to be available to Edge Insider Program testers "within the next month." It's already possible to export this content to Excel and Word, Microsoft indicated.
Edge Insider Program testers also will be getting a Sidebar Search feature in the "coming weeks," which will make it easier to look up things while reading Web pages. Users do a right-mouse-button click on a highlighted word or phrase and then click "Search in sidebar" from the pop-up menu that appears. This Sidebar Search feature also will show company search results for users if they are signed in with an Azure Active Directory account.
End users can now more easily switch work and home profiles when using Edge. A new Automatic Profile Switching feature detects when end users are trying to access a work link. It will then prompt them to enter their work profile credentials to access that link.
Perks for Developers
Microsoft is expanding a preview of WebView2 in Edge, which lets developers host content from the Web in Edge browser applications. The preview currently has support for Wind32 development, but Microsoft is adding support for ".NET and UWP (WinUI 3.0)," too, which adds the ability to embed content in "WinForms, WPF and UWP" applications.
Microsoft is working on making Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) work more like other Windows apps. It'll be possible to manage PWAs in Windows 10 using the Settings control, and they will appear in the applications list that pops up after clicking the Start Menu button. It'll be possible to share content using PWAs, as well. Windows Insider Program participants can see a preview of this work by "enabling the Web Apps Identity Proxy flag in the Microsoft Edge Canary preview build."
Microsoft also described an Origin Trials program that lets developers test experimental Edge capabilities on Web sites for a specific length of time, and for a "selection of your visitors."
Lastly, Microsoft is planning to deliver improvements to its Edge add-ons site, starting this month. It'll add new search capabilities for finding add-ons, new categories and a new layout that's more visually appealing.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.