Internet Explorer was once synonymous with the Internet, but today it’s gone for good

Internet Explorer was once synonymous with the Internet, but today it’s gone for good

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images)

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer has died many deaths over the years, but today is the one that counts. The final version of the browser, Internet Explorer 11, will no longer receive support or security updates starting today, and it will gradually be removed from Windows 10 PCs via a Windows Update at some point in the future. It was never installed on Windows 11 PCs at all.

Microsoft says that people who open Internet Explorer “over the next few months” will “progressively” be redirected toward Microsoft Edge instead, which will offer to import all bookmarks and saved passwords to ease the transition. For users and businesses who need Internet Explorer to access individual websites, Microsoft will continue to support IE mode in Microsoft Edge until “at least 2029.” IE mode combines the user interface of Edge with IE11’s old Trident rendering engine, allowing older websites that don’t render correctly in newer browsers to continue to work.

That’s the end of the line for Internet Explorer, a browser that annihilated all competitors in the late-’90s browser wars only to be decisively wiped out in the early-2010s browser wars. For those who weren’t there, we’ve put together a brief history of the life and times of Internet Explorer. IE’s heyday is a distant memory, but the entire story is worth knowing. Google Chrome is on top of the world today, but that didn’t happen overnight, and the browser wars have been nothing if not cyclical.

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#internet-explorer, #microsoft-edge, #tech

Microsoft is testing a free 1GB-per-month VPN service in its Edge browser

Microsoft is testing a free 1GB-per-month VPN service in its Edge browser

Enlarge (credit: Microsoft)

A couple of years ago, Microsoft reformulated its Edge web browser with a backend based on Google’s Chromium codebase. Since then, the company has tried to make Edge stand out primarily by adding on extra features, mostly related to privacy, security, and online shopping.

One interesting new experimental feature that could be coming to Edge soon is a Cloudflare-powered VPN feature, according to a support document published last week. A VPN (or virtual private network) provides an encrypted tunnel for all of your network traffic, shielding it from the view of other devices on the same network.

Using the VPN service, dubbed the “Microsoft Edge Secure Network,” requires you to be signed in with a Microsoft account, just like cross-device syncing of bookmarks and extensions and plenty of other features. It provides up to 1GB of data per month, with no option to get more data if you want or need it—Edge will track your data usage and let you know when you’re getting close to your limit.

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#https, #microsoft-edge, #tech, #vpn

Microsoft Edge’s new Linux beta supports cloud-streamed games on Steam Deck

Web-based cloud-streaming is now live and awesome on Steam Deck, courtesy of... Microsoft? Sure. We'll take it.

Enlarge / Web-based cloud-streaming is now live and awesome on Steam Deck, courtesy of… Microsoft? Sure. We’ll take it. (credit: Aurich Lawson)

The Steam Deck’s viability as an all-in-one portable gaming machine just became stronger, as it now formally supports a one-click option to get any web-based cloud gaming service working—including Stadia and Xbox Cloud Gaming.

While the Deck comes with both Firefox and Chrome pre-installed, this update does not work with either of those browsers. Rather, Steam Deck owners will need to install and configure the latest Linux beta of Microsoft Edge. Yes, Linux users, Microsoft has come to your rescue.

The process, as detailed on the official Microsoft Edge Reddit community, requires jumping through a few hoops in the Deck’s Arch Linux environment, but it’s a mostly painless way to get a web browser to recognize and translate the Steam Deck’s buttons, triggers, and joysticks as video game input—something the other browsers haven’t gotten around to yet.

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#gaming-culture, #google-stadia, #linux, #microsoft-edge, #steam-deck, #xbox-cloud-gaming

Hiding Windows 11’s Teams icon doesn’t just save taskbar space—it also saves RAM

Hiding Windows 11’s Teams icon doesn’t just save taskbar space—it also saves RAM

Enlarge (credit: Microsoft)

Plenty of apps that you install on your computer have a setting that tells them to launch when you initially log in to save you the trouble of launching your most commonly used apps yourself. Leaving this setting on can also allow apps to check for updates or launch more quickly when you start them for the first time. The difference for some of the preinstalled Microsoft apps in Windows 10 and 11 is that they use some of these resources by default, whether you actually use the apps or not.

Developer and IT admin Michael Niehaus drew attention to some of these apps in recent blog posts examining the resource usage of Windows 11’s widgets, Microsoft Teams, and Microsoft Edge in a fresh install of Windows 11 (the Edge observations apply to Windows 10, too).

Both Widgets and Teams spawn a number of Microsoft Edge WebView2 processes in order to work—WebView2 is a way to use Edge and its rendering engine without launching Edge or using its user interface. Collectively, these processes use a few hundred megabytes of memory to work.

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#microsoft-edge, #tech

Microsoft Edge will now warn users about the dangers of downloading Google Chrome

Microsoft Edge will now warn users about the dangers of downloading Google Chrome

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images)

If you’re a Google Chrome user setting up a new Windows PC, the most important feature of Microsoft Edge is the ability to download Chrome. Microsoft is apparently aware of this behavior and is doing something about it: Neowin has spotted new Edge pop-ups that specifically try to dissuade users from downloading and installing Chrome, a change that I promise I didn’t know about when I wrote about Microsoft’s annoying promotion of Microsoft Edge literally yesterday.

You won’t see the pop-ups every time you try to download Chrome (I haven’t yet), but Neowin and other outlets like The Verge have spotted at least three different messages:

  • “Microsoft Edge runs on the same technology as Chrome, with the added trust of Microsoft.”
  • “‘I hate saving money,’ said no one ever. Microsoft Edge is the best browser for online shopping.”
  • “That browser is so 2008! Do you know what’s new? Microsoft Edge.”

While the operating system-level pop-ups are a small escalation in the ongoing browser wars, this kind of behavior isn’t new. If you use Bing to search for essentially any web browser, including Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Vivaldi, or Brave, a large ad for Edge appears both above the search results and in a giant box to the right of the search results. And whenever you log into Google’s services using Edge or any other non-Chrome browser for the first time, you’ll get a “helpful” nudge about downloading and installing Chrome. But as the provider of Windows, Microsoft definitely has more opportunities to suggest using Edge, and it takes advantage of those opportunities with frustrating regularity.

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#google-chrome, #microsoft-edge, #tech

I like Microsoft Edge. But if it doesn’t get less annoying, I’ll switch again

If Microsoft really wants to "put you first," it needs to tweak its strategy with Edge.

Enlarge / If Microsoft really wants to “put you first,” it needs to tweak its strategy with Edge. (credit: Microsoft)

I’ve been a Microsoft Edge user for a little over two years now, starting right around when the first macOS preview version was released. As with many decisions, I arrived at it using a combination of evidence-based reasoning (it works on all the platforms I use, it retains the speed and compatibility of the Chromium engine, its memory and battery usage and privacy controls seemed at least marginally better than Chrome’s) and gut feelings that felt right to me regardless of whether they were factually true (that giving more personal data to Microsoft bothers me less than giving it to Google and that a big company’s browser would be supported better in the long run than smaller, less-used browsers like Brave or Opera).

I’ve mostly been happy living on the Edge since I switched, and I certainly don’t miss Chrome. But in the last few months, I’ve been progressively more annoyed by some of the “value-add” features Microsoft has tacked on to the browser and by the way Microsoft pushes Edge on people who use Windows (and Bing on people who use Edge). This annoyance has come to a head with Microsoft’s addition of a buy-now-pay-later service called Zip to the newest version of Edge. This addition seems superfluous at best and predatory at worst, and it has spawned a backlash among users, Microsoft-adjacent tech media, and IT professionals.

I don’t like the Zip integration and I don’t plan to use it, but I wouldn’t be so annoyed by it if it weren’t part of a pattern that has emerged (or, at least, become more obvious) in the last year or so. The price comparison and coupon features that Microsoft added a year or so ago generate a huge amount of automatic on-by-default pop-ups, and when you disable those pop-ups or turn the features off entirely, they don’t sync to your other PCs along with your bookmarks and other settings.

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#microsoft-edge, #tech

Microsoft Edge for Linux enters stable channel after a year of betas

The stable version of Microsoft Edge running on Linux Mint.

Enlarge / The stable version of Microsoft Edge running on Linux Mint. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

Big news for the assuredly huge pool of Linux users who also love Microsoft’s software: Microsoft has released the first stable version of the Chromium-based Microsoft Edge browser for Linux. The move follows about a year of early availability in the Dev and Beta channels and nearly two years of stable-channel availability for Windows and macOS.

The Linux version of Edge is compatible with most major distributions. Microsoft offers both .deb and .rpm installers (for Debian and Red Hat-based distributions, respectively) on its download page, and the browser can also be installed via the command line or your package manager of choice.

In our brief testing of the stable version of Edge running on Linux Mint, the browser seems to offer most of the same features as Edge running on Windows or macOS, including syncing for passwords, extensions, bookmarks, and open tabs. If you’re a Linux user who has to use Windows for work, it’s handy to have a version of the browser that can sync that data back and forth. The Linux version of Edge lacks the Internet Explorer compatibility mode (also missing from the Mac version) that some businesses use to get around updating outdated internal websites, but most of the other features seem to be here.

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#linux, #microsoft-edge, #tech

Microsoft launches a personalized news service, Microsoft Start

Microsoft today is introducing its own personalized news reading experience called Microsoft Start, available as both a website and mobile app, in addition to being integrated with other Microsoft products, including Windows 10 and 11 and its Microsoft Edge web browser. The feed will combine content from news publishers, but in a way that’s tailored to users’ individual interests, the company says — a customization system that could help Microsoft to better compete with the news reading experiences offered by rivals like Apple or Google, as well as popular third-party apps like Flipboard or SmartNews.

Microsoft says the product builds on the company’s legacy with online and mobile consumer services like MSN and Microsoft News. However, it won’t replace MSN. That service will remain available, despite the launch of this new, in-house competitor.

To use Microsoft Start, consumers can visit the standalone website MicrosoftStart.com, which works on both Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge (but not Safari), or they can download the Microsoft Start mobile app for iOS or Android.

The service will also power the News and Interests experience on the Windows 10 taskbar and the Widgets experience on Windows 11. In Microsoft Edge, it will be available from the New Tab page, too.

Image Credits: Microsoft

At first glance, the Microsoft Start website it very much like any other online portal offering a collection of news from a variety of publishers, alongside widgets for things like weather, stocks, sports scores and traffic. When you click to read an article, you’re taken to a syndicated version hosted on Microsoft’s domain, which includes the Microsoft Start top navigation bar at the top and emoji reaction buttons below the headline.

Users can also react to stories with emojis while browsing the home page itself.

This emoji set is similar to the one being offered today by Facebook, except that Microsoft has replaced Facebook’s controversial laughing face emoji with a thinking face. (It’s worth noting that the Facebook laughing face has been increasingly criticized for being used to openly ridicule posts and mock people  — even on stories depicting tragic events, like Covid deaths, for instance.)

Microsoft has made another change with its emoji, as well: after you react to a story with an emoji, you only see your emoji instead of the top three and total reaction count. 

Image Credits: Microsoft

But while online web portals tend to be static aggregators of news content, Microsoft Start’s feed will adjust to users’ interests in several different ways.

Users can click a “Personalize” button to be taken to a page where they can manually add and remove interests from across a number of high-level categories like news, entertainment, sports, technology, money, finance, travel, health, shopping, and more. Or they can search for categories and interests that could be more specific or more niche. (Instead of “parenting,” for instance, “parenting teenagers.”)  This recalls the recent update Flipboard made to its own main page, the For You feed, which lets users make similar choices.

As users then begin to browse their Microsoft Start feed, they can also click a button to thumbs up or thumbs down an article to better adjust the feed to their preferences. Over time, the more the user engages with the content, the better refined the feed becomes, says Microsoft. This customization will leverage A.I. and machine learning, as well as human moderation, the company notes.

The feed, like other online portals, is supported by advertising. As you scroll down, you’ll notice every few rows will feature one ad unit, where the URL is flagged with a green “Ad” badge. Initially, these mostly appear to be product ads, making them distinct from the news content. Since Microsoft isn’t shutting down MSN and is integrating this news service into a number of other products, it’s expanding the available advertising real estate it can offer with this launch.

According to the iOS app’s privacy label, the data being used to track users across websites and apps owned by other companies includes the User ID. By comparison, Google News does not include a tracking section. Both Microsoft Start and Google News collect a host of “data linked to you,” like location, identifiers, search history, usage data, contact info, and more. The website itself, however, only links to Microsoft’s general privacy policy.

The website, app and integrations are rolling out starting today. (If you aren’t able to find the app yet, you can try scanning the QR code from your mobile device.)

 

#a-i, #apple, #apps, #emoji, #finance, #machine-learning, #media, #microsoft, #microsoft-edge, #microsoft-windows, #mobile, #mobile-device, #msn, #news-publishers, #operating-systems, #social-media, #software, #web-browser, #windows-10, #windows-11

Switching from Microsoft Edge gets more annoying in Windows 11

This browser popup, which you see in Windows 10 the first time you try to open a link after installing a new browser, isn't present in current beta builds of Windows 11.

Enlarge / This browser popup, which you see in Windows 10 the first time you try to open a link after installing a new browser, isn’t present in current beta builds of Windows 11. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

A piece in The Verge today has drawn attention to the way current Windows 11 betas are handling third-party Web browsers like Chrome and Firefox. These tweaks continue a trend that has intensified over Windows 10’s lifecycle—you can use any browser you want on Windows! But are you sure that you wouldn’t like to try Microsoft Edge instead? Are you sure? Are you really, really sure?

There are two functional changes in the current beta of Windows 11 that make switching browsers more annoying. The first is that the OS no longer pops up a window asking you if you’d like to switch browsers the first time you click a link after installing a new browser. The second is that the “default apps” screen has removed the broad app categories currently available in Windows 10—Windows 10 allows you to set the default email app, map app, music player, photo viewer, video player, and web browser from the default apps screen, while Windows 11 makes you choose an app first and assign defaults one file extension at a time.

When you do attempt to change the default app that handles .htm or .html files from Edge to something else, Windows 11 takes it as yet another opportunity to make sure that you’re absolutely, positively sure that you actually want to switch away from Edge.

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#microsoft-edge, #tech, #windows-11

Microsoft’s Edge browser can now start up faster and put your tabs to sleep

At its annual Build conference today, Microsoft announced a couple of new features for version 91 of its Edge browser that, like so much at Build this year, aren’t earth-shattering (developer velocity!) but nice quality-of-life upgrades for its users. Since Microsoft develops Edge in the open, these may also feel familiar to those who keep a close eye on the Edge roadmap – indeed, I think I’ve seen most of these in Edge 90 already…

One new feature is Startup Boost, which allows Edge to start up almost instantly. The way Microsoft does this is pretty straightforward. It simply loads some of the core Edge processes whenever you boot up your Windows machine, so when you task Edge with starting up, there isn’t all that much work left to do. This shouldn’t have too much of an effect on your Windows 10 bootup time, so it’s probably a trade-off worth making, but I also can’t recall anybody complaining about browser startup times in the last couple of years either.

The other new feature is ‘sleeping tabs,’ which does pretty much what you expect it to do. It puts your tabs to sleep so they don’t use up unnecessary memory and CPU cycles.

Microsoft first announced that it was testing this feature back in December and at the time, the Edge team said that it reduces memory usage by 32% and helps improve battery life as well, given that sleeping tabs use 37% less CPU on average compared to non-sleeping tabs.

It’s worth noting that Google’s Chrome browser, which shares many of its underlying technology with Edge, also features tools to limit resource usage, including what Google calls ‘tab freezing,’ as does virtually every other major browser today.

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#edge, #freeware, #google, #google-chrome, #major, #microsoft, #microsoft-build-2021, #microsoft-edge, #microsoft-windows, #operating-systems, #software, #tab, #tc, #web-browsers, #windows-10

So long, Internet Explorer, and your decades of security bugs

Image Credits: Louis Douvis / Getty Images

Pour one out for Internet Explorer, the long-enduring internet browser that’s been the butt of countless jokes about its speed, reliability, and probably most notable of all, security, which will retire next year after more than 25 years of service.

Microsoft said it will pull the plug on the browser’s life support in June 2022, giving its last remaining half a dozen or so users a solid year to transition to Chrome or Firefox — let’s be honest here — though other respectable browsers are available. There will be some exceptions to the end-of-life plan, such as industrial machines that need the browser to operate.

For years, Microsoft has nudged Internet Explorer users towards its newer Edge browser as a more reliable and secure alternative to the ailing Internet Explorer, often in the most obnoxious ways possible by splashing on-screen ads the second you flirt with using a rival browser. As the wider web’s support for Internet Explorer dwindled, enterprises have also begun phasing out support for the browser.

But in ending support for Internet Explorer, Microsoft is parting ways with one of the most problematic security headaches in its history.

Virtually no other software has been subject to more security bugs than Internet Explorer, in large part due to its longevity. Microsoft has patched Internet Explorer almost every month for the past two decades, trying to stay one step ahead of the hackers who find and exploit vulnerabilities in the browser to drop malware on their victims’ computers. Internet Explorer was hardened over the years, but it lagged behind its competitors, which sped ahead with frequent, almost invisible security updates and tougher sandboxing to prevent malware from running on the user’s computer.

As much as it’s easy to hate on Internet Explorer, it’s been with us for almost three decades since it debuted in Windows 95, and it’s served us well. For many of us who grew up on the internet in our teens and twenties, Internet Explorer was the first — and really the only — browser we used. Most of us signed up for our first Hotmail email address with Internet Explorer. We learned how to code our MySpace page using that browser, and we downloaded a lot — and I mean a lot — of suspicious-looking, malware-packed “games” that slowed the computer down to a crawl but thought nothing of it.

I remember, as a 10-(ish)-year-old child, seeing for the first time the pixelated Internet Explorer icon on that bright, teal wallpapered cathode-ray monitor in a cold attic room in our family home, because, not really knowing what the internet was, I complained to my father: “I don’t want to just explore the internet. I want to see the whole thing.”

Thanks to Internet Explorer, I got to see a large part of it.

#browser-security, #freeware, #google-chrome, #internet-explorer, #microsoft, #microsoft-edge, #microsoft-windows, #security, #software, #web-browsers, #windows-95

Microsoft Edge is dead—long live Microsoft Edge

There can be only one.

Enlarge / There can be only one. (credit: Jim Salter)

Microsoft officially ended support for the legacy (non-Chromium-derived) Edge browser this week. The death of legacy Edge was first announced in August 2020, with the end-of-life date set to March 9, 2021—this Tuesday.

The deprecated version of Edge, originally named Project Spartan, was developed and shipped as Windows 10’s default browser in 2015. Unlike the current, Chromium-based Edge, it had no upstream project—the entire browser, up to and including the rendering engine, was a Microsoft design.

Despite being Windows 10’s default browser, Spartan never achieved significant marketshare, let alone the crushing dominance once enjoyed by Internet Explorer. According to GlobalStats, legacy Edge peaked at well below 2.5 percent marketshare—less than, for example, Opera. By contrast, and despite its relative newborn status, Chromium-based Edge has already hit 3.4 percent—closing in on Firefox’s much-diminished 3.8 percent, as of February 2021.

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#chromium, #edge, #edge-browser, #legacy-edge, #microsoft, #microsoft-edge, #tech

Microsoft adds Startup Boost, Sleeping Tabs to Edge build 89

We're not sure why Chromium-based Edge's branding seems so thoroughly wet.

Enlarge / We’re not sure why Chromium-based Edge’s branding seems so thoroughly wet. (credit: Microsoft)

This week, Microsoft announced several more features trickling down to Edge Stable from its Beta insider channel. These features include Startup Boost, Sleeping Tabs, Vertical Tabs, and a more navigable History dialog. The company also announced some welcome interface tweaks to Bing—which Microsoft insists on categorizing as Edge features, but these items seem to apply equally to Bing in any browser so far.

If you’re not familiar with Microsoft Edge’s release and download system, there are three Insider channels (Canary, Dev, and Beta) that represent daily, weekly, and six-weekly updates in increasing order of stability. New features debut there before eventually making their way into Stable, where normal users will encounter them.

If you’re a Windows user, you can’t actually download new builds in the Stable channel directly. Instead, you must either look for them in Windows Update or navigate to edge://settings/help in-browser and ask Edge to check for updates to itself. If you’d also like to check out the Edge Insider builds, you can do so safely—they won’t replace your Edge Stable; they install side-by-side, with separate icons on your taskbar making them easy to distinguish.

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#browser, #chromium, #edge, #microsoft-edge, #tech

Google speeds up its release cycle for Chrome

Google today announced that its Chrome browser is moving to a faster release cycle by shipping a new milestone every four weeks instead of the current six-week cycle (with a bi-weekly security patch). That’s one way to hasten the singularity, I guess, but it’s worth noting that Mozilla also moved to a four-week cycle for Firefox last year.

“As we have improved our testing and release processes for Chrome, and deployed bi-weekly security updates to improve our patch gap, it became clear that we could shorten our release cycle and deliver new features more quickly,” the Chrome team explains in today’s announcement.

Google, however, also acknowledges that not everybody wants to move this quickly — especially in the enterprise. For those users, Google is adding a new Extended Stable option with updates that come every eight weeks. This feature will be available to enterprise admins and Chromium embedders. They will still get security updates on a bi-weekly schedule, but Google notes that “those updates won’t contain new features or all security fixes that the 4 week option will receive.”

The new four-week cycle will start with Chrome 94 in Q3 2021, and at this faster rate, we’ll see Chrome 100 launch into the stable channel by March 29, 2022. I expect there will be cake.

#chrome, #chrome-os, #chromium, #enterprise, #firefox, #freeware, #google, #google-chrome, #microsoft-edge, #operating-systems, #software, #web-browsers

Microsoft Edge now starts up faster and gets vertical tabs

A year ago, Microsoft announced that its Edge browser would get vertical tabs and here we are: Microsoft today announced that vertical tabs in Edge are now generally available.

In addition, the Edge team also announced a few under-the-hood changes that will allow the browser to startup significantly faster (up to 41% faster according to Microsoft’s preliminary tests, to be precise). Since Microsoft can’t speed up your hard drive or significantly shrink Edge, though, the way the team achieves this is by loading the browser in the background when you sign in and then it’ll continue running when you close all browser windows. If that’s not to your liking, you can always turn this feature off, too.

While vertical tabs are available for you to play with now, though, the startup improvements will roll out over the course of this month.

Image Credits: Microsoft

Vertical tabs, of course, are nothing new. Other browsers have long supported them, either as a built-in feature or through extensions. But it’s nice to see them finally becoming a reality in Edge, too.

“Most websites follow a conventional grid that leaves plenty of whitespace on either end of the page,” Microsoft’s Michele McDanel writes in today’s announcement. “As we began working with our users, we realized that this vertical real estate could be a better location for tabs, rather than the traditional horizontal list of tabs at the top. While vertical tabs may not be an entirely new concept, we saw an opportunity to improve the browser experience and tested several prototypes with our users.”

Image Credits: Microsoft

In its research, Microsoft discovered that users who like vertical tabs also like to switch between them and standard horizontal tabs, so it added an always-visible toggle to do so. And since users sometimes want to reclaim all of their screen estate, the team added the ability to collapse the sidebar, too.

For those of you who use Bing, Microsoft is also adding a few nifty new features to its search engine. There’s a new recipe view for when you’re once again out of ideas for what to make for dinner, improved visual search results, and the company has spruced up some of its rich sidebar snippets with a more infographic-like feel. But let’s face it: you’re not using Bing. If perchance you do, you can find more details about the udpates here.

#bing, #computing, #freeware, #microsoft, #microsoft-bing, #microsoft-edge, #real-estate, #search-engine, #software, #tab, #tc, #web-browsers

Microsoft is building a price comparison engine into its Edge browser

With its Edge browser now stable, Microsoft’s current focus for its Chromium-based browser is to build features that differentiate it from the competition.

With the holiday season coming up fast (though who knows what that will actually look like this year), it’s maybe no surprise that one of the first new features the company is announcing is a price comparison tool as part of its ‘Collections’ bookmarking service. That was always an obvious next step, but it’s nice to see Microsoft add some more functionality here.

Also coming to Edge is the general availability of its integration between Collections and Pinterest, as well as a new screenshot tool for capturing web content, improved PDF support and an update to its Teleparty extension for streaming TV shows in sync with your friends and chat about it in your browser’s sidebar.

In addition, you can now also start free video meetings with your friends and family (or co-workers), right from the browsers through an integration with Microsoft’s Meet Now service. You can have up to 50 people in these video chats, share screens and record these sessions. While this is rolling out in Edge first, it’s also coming to Outlook on the web and the Windows 10 taskbar in the next few weeks.

Image Credits: Microsoft

You can’t say Microsoft held back on new features with this release, but the highlight is surely the new price comparison engine, though.

“We’ve been talking about how collections is a great feature for anyone who wants to do research — whether that’s research in education or work, but a lot of people do research for shopping,” said Divya Kumar, Microsoft’s Director of Product Management for its browser and search tools. “We’ve really started to talk about this rhythm of, ‘okay, if use drop things into Collections, we should be really smart enough to give you the data that you’re looking for.’ This felt like a really natural next step for us to do.”

As long as Edge — through its connection with Microsoft Bing‘s existing price comparison engine — recognizes that you’re saving a product site, maybe from Amazon or Best Buy, it’ll show you the option to compare prices right in the browser tools bar. The next logical step now is for the team to add alerts when prices change and Kumar tells me that this is on the roadmap, together with several other features the team wasn’t ready to discuss yet.

Microsoft says it does not get affiliate fees when you buy through one of the links in Collections.

Talking about shopping, the team is also launching its Bing Rebates cashback program out of beta now (after shutting down a somewhat similar program a while back). The company signed up the likes for Walmart, Expedia, Walgreens and Nvidia for this program (though Nvidia only gives you a whopping 0.5% cashback). Still, it may just get some people to use Bing, though you have to sign up as a Microsoft Rewards member to participate.

“Rebates is a great part of the shopping story that we’re trying to land in terms of enabling smarter shopping experiences in the browser,” said Kumar.

In addition, through its Give with Bing program, you can now use your Microsoft Rewards points to donate to charitable organizations and until the end of the year, Microsoft will match your gift. This is live in the including: U.S., UK, Canada, Australia, France, Italy, Germany and Spain.

As somebody who works on the web and takes screenshots all day, the updated screenshotting tool is also worth a look. Edge could already help you take screenshots, but until now, all you could do was copy what was on your screen. Now, you can also grab content from further down the page and then save it or share it directly from Edge.

Image Credits: Microsoft

If you’re an iOS user and have switched to Edge there — or thought about it — the news here is that you can now select Edge as your default browser there, a feature Apple finally enabled with the launch of iOS 14.

#artificial-intelligence, #bookmark, #chrome-os, #chromium, #computing, #freeware, #google-chrome, #microsoft, #microsoft-edge, #microsoft-kin, #pdf, #pinterest, #software, #tc, #web-browsers

Microsoft’s Edge browser is coming to Linux in October

Microsoft’s Edge browser is coming to Linux, starting with the Dev channel. The first of these previews will go live in October.

When Microsoft announced that it would switch its Edge browser to the Chromium engine, it vowed to bring it to every popular platform. At the time, Linux wasn’t part of that list, but by late last year, it became clear that Microsoft was indeed working on a Linux version. Later, at this year’s Build, a Microsoft presenter even used it during a presentation.

Image Credits: Microsoft

Starting in October, Linux users will be able to either download the browser from the Edge Insider website or through their native package managers. Linux users will get the same Edge experience as users on Windows and macOS, as well as access to its built-in privacy and security features. For the most part, I would expect the Linux experience to be on par with that on the other platforms.

Microsoft also today announced that its developers have made over 3,700 commits to the Chromium project so far. Some of this work has been on support for touchscreens, but the team also contributed to areas like accessibility features and developer tools, on top of core browser fundamentals.

Currently, Microsoft Edge is available on Windows 7, 8 and 10, as well as
macOS, iOS and Android.

#chromium, #computing, #edge, #freeware, #google-chrome, #linux, #microsoft, #microsoft-edge, #microsoft-ignite-2020, #software, #tc, #web-browsers

Azure’s Immersive Reader is now generally available

Microsoft today announced that Immersive Reader, its service for developers who want to add text-to-speech and reading comprehension tools to their applications, is now generally available.

Immersive Reader, which is part of the Azure Cognitive Services suite of AI products, developers get access to a text-to-speech engine, but just as importantly, the service offers tools that help readers improve their reading comprehension, be that through displaying pictures over commonly used words or separating out syllables and parts of speech of a given sentence.

It also offers a distraction-free reading view, similar to what you will find in modern browsers. Indeed, if you use Microsoft’s Edge browser, Immersive Reader is already included there as part of the distraction-free article view, together with its other accessibility features. Microsoft also bundled its translation service with Immersive Reader.

Image Credits: Microsoft

With today’s launch, Microsoft is adding support for fifteen of its neural text-to-speech voices to the service, as well as five new languages (Odia, Kurdish (Northern), Kurdish (Central), Pashto and Dari) from its translation service. In total, Immersive Reader now supports 70 languages.

As Microsoft also announced today, the company has partnered with Code.org and SAFARI Montage to bring Immersive Reader to their learning solutions.

“We’re thrilled to partner with Microsoft to bring Immersive Reader to the Code.org community,” said Hadi Partovi, Founder and CEO of Code.org. “The inclusive capabilities of Immersive Reader to improve reading fluency and comprehension in learners of varied backgrounds, abilities, and learning styles directly aligns with our mission to ensure every student in every school has the opportunity to learn computer science.”

Microsoft says it saw a 560% increase in use of Immersive Reader from February to May, likely because a lot of people were starting to look for new online education tools as the COVID-19 pandemic started. Today, more than 23 million people use it every month and Microsoft expects that number to go up once again in the fall, as the new school year starts.

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Microsoft takes one more step toward the death of Internet Explorer

Microsoft 365 apps will end support for Internet Explorer 11 by the end of 2021, Microsoft announced in a company blog post this week. It’s a big step from the company, which is looking to move customers to its more modern Edge browser even as some enterprises are stuck on legacy systems running Internet Explorer (IE).

The change will begin with Microsoft Teams Web application, which will end IE support on November 30 of this year. Microsoft 365 applications will follow by August 17, 2021. Here’s how Microsoft explained the 365 changes in its blog post:

Customers will have a degraded experience or will be unable to connect to Microsoft 365 apps and services on IE 11. For degraded experiences, new Microsoft 365 features will not be available or certain features may cease to work when accessing the app or service via IE 11.

That said, Redmond was careful to clarify that IE 11 is not going away. Many enterprises have proprietary Web applications that only work on that browser and are unlikely to drop it entirely in the immediate future.

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#browsers, #edge, #internet-explorer-11, #internet-explorer, #microsoft, #microsoft-edge, #microsoft-internet-explorer, #tech, #web-browsers

You can now surf in Microsoft’s Edge browser

Browser developers love to add small Easter Eggs to their apps to help you while away the hours when your Interent is down, for example. Chrome has long had the Dino game, that you can start from the ‘No internet’ error screen, for example. With its surf game, Microsoft’s Edge team built something similar into its pre-release channels earlier this year and as the company announced today, it’s now also available in the stable channel, too.

Just type in ‘edge://surf’ into your URL bar and you’re off to the races. The surf game is an endless scroller where you try to avoid obstacles, other surfers and the occasional attention-starved kraken. It’s more fun than the Dino game and also a bit more fully-featured. There are different game modes (endless, time trial, zig zag) and you can play with keyboard, mouse, touch or gamepad. If you like your games even more casual, there is a reduced speed mode and there is a high visibility mode for those with visual impairments.

After almost a year in public preview, the Edge team launched its first stable version earlier this year and only last week, Microsoft announced a slew of new features at its virtual Build developer conference. Even during its preview period, Edge was already a capable browser, though it lacked any killer features — unless being a very good Chromium-based browser made by Microsoft was really what you were always looking for. That’s slowly changing now, as the team is now building out the Edge feature set. The surf game isn’t exactly a killer feature, but it does help set the overall vibe for the browser and shows that Microsoft is looking to go beyond the basics now.

#chromium, #google-chrome, #microsoft, #microsoft-edge, #offline, #surfing, #tc, #web-browsers

Microsoft Edge gets a Pinterest integration, sidebar search and automatic profile switching

Microsoft’s Edge browser is getting a bunch of new features soon. Some of these are for casual users while others are aimed at business users, IT admins and developers, but they all demonstrate that after releasing the first stable version of the browser only recently, the team is now starting to build in new features that it surely hopes will set Edge apart from its competition.

One new feature for more casual users is an integration with Pinterest and Edge’s collections feature. There is an obvious overlap here, since both Pinterest and collections are about allowing people to save links to the research they’ve done online about virtually any topic. Now, Edge will feature a Pinterest-powered tool that will show suggestions from Pinterest at the bottom of a collection. Clicking on that, Microsoft says, will take users to a Pinterest board “of similar, trending Pins so users can quickly find and add ideas relevant to their collection.” Users will also be able to export collections to Pinterest. I’m sure this will prove useful to some, but I personally hope it’s something you can turn off, too.

In addition to the Pinterest integration, collections is also getting the ability to send items to Microsoft’s OneNote note-taking tool, which is in addition to its existing Word and Excel integrations.

These new features for collections are scheduled to launch in the Edge pre-release channels within the next few days.

Also new in Edge is Sidebar Search. This, as the name implies, will allow you to do your searches in the sidebar without having to open a new tab in your main browser window. That sidebar will also be persistent as you move between tabs, making this a nifty idea and something that others will surely emulate over time.

For those of us who often mix business and personal accounts on the same machine and in the same browser, Edge is now introducing automatic profile switching, which can automatically switch your browser profile to your work settings when it detects a link that needs your work credentials.

In a related announcement, Microsoft also said that Edge will now support Windows Information Protection on Windows 10, which separates personal and corporate data and includes audit reporting for compliance. Microsoft says this has been a “top ask by many customers.”

For developers, Microsoft is also launching a couple of new features and tools. One of these is Origin Trials, which will allow developers to test experimental web features on their websites for a set time period with Edge users. These are essentially “prototypes that we haven’t enabled for the general web yet will work on your site for a selection of your visitors in Microsoft Edge, enabling you to gather and provide early feedback which can influence the final API,” Microsoft explains.

Windows developers can also start testing the new WebView2 preview, which now also supports .NET and UWP apps, while it was previously restricted to Win32 programs.

In addition, progressive web apps in Windows are now getting a boost. Users will be able to manage these web apps, when installed from Edge, from the Windows settings, use them to share content and even receive content from other apps. They will also now be included in the Start Menu. For now, this feature is only available to users on the Windows Insider builds and the Edge Canary preview builds — and even then, users have to toggle the “Web Apps Identity Proxy” flag in the browser.

Overall, these are some interesting new additions to Edge’s feature set. Most importantly, though, they show that the team is now starting to release features that go beyond the core browser tools and looking to offer tools that differentiate Edge from its competitors — something it currently doesn’t really do, despite being a very competent Chromium-based browser.

#browser, #microsoft, #microsoft-build-2020, #microsoft-edge, #microsoft-windows, #pinterest, #software, #tc