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article imageFirst extensions come to Microsoft Edge in new Windows 10 preview

By James Walker     Mar 18, 2016 in Technology
Microsoft has officially announced browser extensions for its new Edge web browser. Edge extensions are almost identical to Chrome extensions, making it simple for developers to bring their existing code to Microsoft's browser.
The Microsoft Edge team has been working on support for extensions for several months. Yesterday, Microsoft unveiled its current implementation, letting Windows Insiders try out the new version of Edge as part of Windows 10 Insider Preview build 14291.
Only three extensions are available right now, the Reddit Enhancement Suite, Mouse Gestures and Microsoft Translator. Reddit Enhancement Suite is a popular utility to improve the appearance of message board site Reddit, Mouse Gestures adds extra gestures to Edge and Microsoft Translator can translate the content of websites into over 50 languages.
More extensions are expected to be added soon. Several popular existing extensions including AdBlock, AdBlock Plus, Amazon, LastPass and Evernote are already in development for release alongside the public debut of the new version of Edge. The ease of porting Chrome extensions to Edge should make it easy for Microsoft to attract developers to its platform.
Edge extensions are based on the standards laid out by the W3C Browser Extension Community Group. The group aims to increase cross-browser compatibility for extensions, letting creators target users of all supporting web browsers without having to dramatically change their code. "In keeping with our commitment to an interoperable web, we're participating in the W3C browser Extension Community Group's efforts to define standardized extension APIs based on familiar web technologies," explained Microsoft.
Extensions preview in Microsoft Edge
Extensions preview in Microsoft Edge
Microsoft
Windows Insiders currently have to manually download and install extensions. By the time the feature publicly launches later this year, a new simpler solution will have been developed. General users will be able to download extensions from the Windows Store in much the same way apps and games are installed.
Microsoft said it is taking its time to ensure extensions are implemented correctly in Edge. "Our experience over the past 20 years has taught us that poorly written or even malicious add-ons were a huge source of security, reliability and performance issues for browsers," Drew DeBruyne, General Manager of Microsoft Edge, said in a blog post. "With this in mind, we have built Microsoft Edge so customers can add extensions to the browser with the confidence that they will operate as expected."
Extensions are likely to make their way to general users with Windows 10's planned "Redstone" update this June. Microsoft recently said Redstone will make you "freak out" over new features that "change everything," without indicating the nature of its plans.
Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 14291 contains several other improvements alongside support for extensions. The Maps app has been completely reworked with a new interface, the alarms and clocks app has received attention in several areas and some major bugs have been fixed. Consumers will again receive these changes as part of Windows 10 Redstone this June.
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