Microsoft Edge to Gain Google WebM and VP9 Support

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer have long been panned as the red-headed stepchild among the various web browsers. The built-in Windows browser suffered from both a real and perceived lack of speed, features, and extension support. With Microsoft Edge, the company looks to be making sure their latest browser will keep up to date with current standards. As a result, the Windows 10 Anniversary Update will bring WebM and VP9 support to the Windows 10 browser.

VP9 is Google’s latest experiment with video codecs. After VP8 largely failed against H.264 due to patent issues and a delayed release, Google is hoping VP9 take hold. Together with Microsoft and the rest of the Alliance for Open Media, Google hopes VP9 will offer a royalty-free alternative to H.265. As 4K content hasn’t yet quite taken hold, VP9 still stands a good chance to become the industry standard. The WebM container format and Opus audio codec will also be added as well.

Unfortunately for those involved, VP9 doesn’t have widespread hardware acceleration support yet. This means devices playing back VP9 content will likely have to resort to the CPU instead of a more power efficient ASIC. For Microsoft Edge, VP9 support will be turned off by default unless hardware acceleration is detected. Even with this glaring fault, the extensive use of VP9 on YouTube may eventually sway hardware manufacturers. Let the codec wars begin!

Microsoft Shows How Easily Chrome Extensions Can Be Added to Edge

Last month, Microsoft revealed that they had been working on the ability for their struggling Edge web browser to support the vast array of extensions that are available for Google’s Chrome. At an Edge developer summit earlier this week, Microsoft showed off just how far this technology had come already, with many popular Chrome add-ons being able to be made Edge-compatible with a simple change to one or two lines of code.

Edge’s support for extensions is already implemented, at least in the beta versions of the software that have been made available to Microsoft Insiders. Currently, Microsoft has around eight add-ons available for their browser, including the popular ad blockers, AdBlock and AdBlock Plus, which may be the ad blocking that Microsoft plans to implement in Edge. Currently, all Edge extensions must be manually side-loaded into the browser, but will be available through the Windows Store when fully released.

According to Rory Fairweather, a program manager working on Edge, extensions have been the most requested feature for Edge since its release alongside Windows 10, especially as they are a popular feature that many other browsers have had for many years. The amazing thing about Edge’s extensions is just how easy it is to port existing Chrome extensions to Edge instead of having to develop a version especially for Microsoft’s browser. Developers will be able to employ a tool from Microsoft to convert their extension, or, like Fairweather, change a couple of lines of code. This is possible due to Edge having equivalent addon APIs to its rival browsers, but will also have potentially powerful APIs that are exclusive to it including icon changing, cross-component messaging and networking.

Whether this will bolster Edge’s market share and pull lost users back to Microsoft’s browsers is hard to tell as many still see Edge as just the same as the often infamous Internet Explorer. At the very least, it is impressive to see how far Microsoft have gone to make it easy for extension developers to develop for their browser alongside others, as well as encourage the developers of existing apps to support Edge as well through an easy conversion process.

Microsoft’s Edge Browser to Feature Ad Blocking

Microsoft is actively trying to make Edge a better browser with each update, and it looks like the next major improvement for this admittedly quick browser concerns ad blockers. During a recent presentation of Build 2016, a certain slide showed that Microsoft plans to “build ad blocking features into the browser,” which suggests that Edge might support ad blocking features natively without the need for extensions. This is definitely encouraging news for those of you who use ad-blockers regularly, as Edge’s extension support is new and rather unpolished right now. Another interesting addition to the browser could be a modern extension/plug-in model” complemented by a store, which should also be implemented into the next version.

Unlike Google’s Chrome browser, which doesn’t offer ad-blocking capabilities on its own for obvious reasons, other similar programs such as Safari and Opera already block ads without any help from extensions. For the user, blocking ads could provide a faster and potentially safer browsing experience, but it’s worth keeping in mind that publishers stand to lose quite a bit as a result, which is why many of them are actively expressing their disappointment. Not too long ago, several websites in France have taken a public stand against ad blockers, with some websites even refusing to grant access to users unless they whitelist their publications.

Microsoft Wants to Make Edge Support Chrome Extensions

Microsoft’s Edge browser is definitely an improvement when compared to the old Internet Explorer, but it still not as popular in the average user’s eye as Chrome and Firefox, mainly because it doesn’t support as many extensions. It’s true that Edge has recently received its first batch of extensions, but these are not exactly numerous or even particularly useful at times, which is why Microsoft Senior Program Manager Jacob Rossi has stated that the company is working on a “porting tool to run Chrome extensions in Edge.” Apparently, this tool was designed to allow developers to create Edge versions of their extensions, but it’s worth mentioning that the tool doesn’t support all APIs at the time of writing.

That’s because it is not completely finished yet, but it’s probably safe to assume that it could prove very useful for developers once it reaches its final version. For now, the feature is still in its testing phase, and it is currently available only to Windows Insiders in the fast ring. If Microsoft Edge would receive support for Chrome’s extensions, do you think that you might consider making it your default browser? From my experience with it, Edge is a very snappy browser, but I think there’s something about its UI that drives people away.

Edge and Internet Explorer Browsers Lose Ground to Make Way for Google

It’s no big secret that Microsoft’s browsers are often swapped for offerings from Mozilla and Google, but it looks like their popularity has declined quite a bit last month, at least according to a recent report by Computerworld. Apparently, Edge and Internet Explorer accounted for 44.8% of all browsers used to reach the web in February 2016, and it’s worth keeping in mind that this number was at 57.4% last year. The numbers are still higher when compared to Google’s Chrome, but if the decline doesn’t stop at some point this year, the two companies might trade places as No.1 and No.2 on the chart eventually.

This is particularly worrying for Microsoft, because while Internet Explorer and Edge’s popularity saw a decline, Chrome was actually recording an increase in user share. At the end of February, Chrome reported a user share of 36.6%, which represents a 1.5% increase when compared to January and an 11.9-point increase when compared to February 2015. As far as Firefox is concerned, it gained just three-tenths of a percentage in order to climb to 11.7%, while Apple’s Safari also recorded a growth by two-tenths and reached 4.9%. The main problem with Microsoft seems to be related to Windows 10 and its default Edge browser. By “forcing” users to move to a new operating system with a new default browser, the company gave them the opportunity to rethink their browser choice and move over to rivals such as Chrome. If you ask me, Edge is definitely not a bad browser, but it still needs to receive several upgrades and new features in order to be able to go toe-to-toe with Chrome.

New Windows 10 Update is Crashing Games

The latest build of Windows 10 Insider Preview was released last week, but the update is causing PC game crashes and wireless card issues, Microsoft has admitted. Build 111022, which was made available to Windows Insiders in the Fast ring on 21st January, introduced the newest version of Microsoft Edge, but known issues with the update reported so far extend beyond the browser.

Microsoft has revealed the following known issues on the Windows Blog:

  • When we went live with last week’s PC build, Insiders discovered a bug where the cache for Insider Hub wasn’t properly refreshing – preventing new content from showing up in a timely manner. We’ll include known issues with our blog posts as well as in Insider Hub until the bug is resolved.
  • Some PC games will crash switching from windowed mode to full screen, upon game resolution change, or upon launch due to a bug in Windows graphics stack. We have observed this with The Witcher 3, Fallout 4, Tomb Raider, Assassin’s Creed, and Metal Gear Solid V but it may occur with other titles as well.
  • With this build (and with the last build), applications such as Narrator, Magnifier, and third-party assistive technologies may experience intermittent issues or crashes. If you rely on screen readers or other software, you should not use this build. This issue will be fixed with the next build.
  • You might see a WSClient.dll error dialog after logging in. We’re working on a fix for this but as a workaround, you can run the following in Command Prompt with administrative rights: schtasks /delete /TN “\Microsoft\Windows\WS\WSRefreshBannedAppsListTask” /F
  • While attempting to update to this build, your PC may show a message that your wireless card is not compatible with Windows 10. The workaround is to visit the support page for your PC or wireless card and install the newest driver that is available.
  • The Connect button does not show up in Action Center.

End of Life for Internet Explorer 8, 9 and 10 on Tuesday

Internet Explorer has few fans amongst the tech community, with it’s blatant disregard for web standards and numerous security and privacy issues over the years. It has been some time in the works, but Microsoft has announced that the ‘end of life‘ of these older versions of their web browser as of Tuesday.

The ‘end of life’ announcement comes with a patch to go live on the 12th of January, KB3123303, providing a few final bug and security fixes for the browser, as well as introducing a ‘notification feature’. This feature will inform users upon starting the software that they should update to either the last supported version of IE, 11 or the new Microsoft Edge browser for Windows 10. Those stubbornly wishing to stick to their current version of IE and enterprises that are yet to transition from the unsupported versions the notification can be disabled. Microsoft provided a step by step guide to this process, however, it does involve editing the registry, so the less experienced user may just be better giving in and updating.

In a way, it is surprising that support for Internet Explorer has lasted so long, with Microsoft demoting the browser to ‘legacy’ status last year and planning to end support for it’s older versions since 2014. Whether this move by Microsoft will drive the hundreds of millions of users of outdated IE users to update to 11 or make the jump to Windows 10 with Edge is debatable.  The move may just drive the users to competitor’s browsers instead of upgrading as their copy of IE becomes a security liability.

Microsoft Edge Has the Same Security Holes as Internet Explorer

Hopes were so high. After years of being the butt of every browser joke for its poor performance and woeful security, Microsoft announced that its ailing browser Internet Explorer was being replaced by Microsoft Edge with the release of Windows 10. But a recent investigation by Woody Leonhard of InfoWorld has revealed that the security holes in Internet Explorer have been carried over to Edge.

“With Microsoft Edge, we want to fundamentally improve security over existing browsers and enable users to confidently experience the web from Windows. We have designed Microsoft Edge to defend users from increasingly sophisticated and prevalent attacks,” Microsoft declared back in May.

I was an early convert to Edge, for its sheer speed alone, after obtaining my free upgrade to Windows 10 in July, but I soon started to sour on it for its rudimentary design and lack of extension support. I left both Edge and Windows 10 behind within a month, reverting back to my original copy of Windows 7. A timely decision, it seems.

Leonhard looked at the most recent patch for Edge, released on Tuesday (8th December), including an examination of its list of Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVEs). The patch included updates for both Internet Explorer (MS15-124) and Microsoft Edge (MS15-125). 11 of the security holes patched in IE also had to be patched in Edge, while 4 CVEs in IE were also present in Edge. In addition, the official cumulative CVE list for Microsoft Edge has 14 entries, 13 of which have also been identified as issues for Internet Explorer.

Microsoft Edge Won’t Receive Extensions until 2016

I know that some of you have mixed feelings about Microsoft’s Edge browser, and I can’t really blame you at all. On the one hand, we have a snappy, new browser that’s certainly an improvement over Internet Explorer, but it does lack certain features such as support for extensions, and that’s a huge problem if you’re used to having a lot of extensions at your disposal. There are quite a few rumors going around that Edge won’t even receive extension support until 2016, and the news was actually confirmed by Microsoft not too long ago. Apparently, the company wants to postpone this implementation until 2016 in order to ensure the security of the extension model.

Several other updates for Windows 10 are reportedly on their way in November, and some of these features are currently in beta testing at the time of writing, including new Cortana functions, integrated Skype and a new activation process that will allow users to insert product keys from older Windows versions. If Microsoft Edge actually receives extension support in 2016, will you consider making it your default browser? I think that I might give it a chance for a while, even thought it might be hard to part ways with my current setup.

Microsoft’s Edge Browser Up to 112% Faster Than Chrome

That headline is not a typo: Microsoft Edge – the browser formally known as Project Spartan and replacement for the much-maligned Internet Explorer, to be included with Windows 10 upon launch at the end of this month – is up to 112% faster than Google Chrome, blowing that, Safari, and Firefox out of the water.

Gabe Aul, Head of the Windows Insider Program, revealed Edge’s impressive performance figures on the Windows Blog:

Microsoft Edge is blazing fast!

The Edge team has been continuing to optimise performance since first adding the new browser to Windows 10. In this build, Microsoft Edge is even better and is beating Chrome and Safari on their own JavaScript benchmarks:

On WebKit Sunspider, Edge is 112% faster than Chrome
On Google Octane, Edge is 11% faster than Chrome
On Apple JetStream, Edge is 37% faster than Chrome

We’re really pleased with those performance gains and we hope that you’ll enjoy faster browsing with Microsoft Edge along with the many great features we’ve added over the last several builds.

If these figures can be trusted, Microsoft may have blown the browser market wide open. Frankly, after the abhorrent Internet Explorer, it’s about time. I can’t wait for 29th July to test it fully. Fingers crossed that it offers unrivalled security, to boot.

Microsoft Edge Browser to Ditch ActiveX

Microsoft Edge, the browser formally known as Project Spartan to be bundled with Windows 10, will ditch ActiveX and Browser Helper Objects (BHO) in favour of HTML5 and JavaScript. However, the replacement will not appear until after the release of Windows 10 this Summer. Internet Explorer 11 support, which still includes ActiveX and BHO, will remain in place for Enterprise users.

Both ActiveX and BHO are long in the tooth – they were introduced in 1996 and 1997, respectively – and, as such, contain a whole host of security issues that hackers have been exploiting for over a decade. Modern browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, and Opera had long ago moved away from the frameworks for the standards-based HTML5.

“The need for ActiveX controls has been significantly reduced by HTML5-era capabilities, which also produces interoperable code across browsers,” Microsoft’s blog says of the move, in a section titled ‘Why we don’t need [ActiveX] anymore’. “Microsoft Edge will support native PDF rendering and Adobe Flash as built-in features rather than external add-ons. We recently demonstrated our early work on a modern, HTML/JavaScript-based extension model to provide extensibility beyond what is available with HTML5. We will enable this new model after our initial release of Microsoft Edge this summer and we look forward to sharing more details soon.”

Though Windows 10 will launch with IE11 while Edge is being finished, the browser and its framework are not long for this world. Edge hopes to rival Chrome and Firefox, both for efficiency and security. Microsoft is, eventually, catching up, and it’s about time.

Thank you Computer World for providing us with this information.

Microsoft Renames Project Spartan to Microsoft Edge

Project Spartan has long been known as the replacement for Microsoft’s aging Internet Explorer browser lineup. Debuting alongside Windows 10 later this year, the new browser finally shed its codename and was officially christened Microsoft Edge. This new name aligns the browser with the name of its underlying rendering engine, Edge. The new browser cuts out most of the legacy cruft left from Internet Explorer as well.

Microsoft Edge has a number of notable new features compared to Internet Explorer. HTML and Javascript extensions are supported, allowing extensions from Chrome and Firefox to be easily ported. This will do much to ensure a vibrant extension community right from the start. Cortana, Microsoft’s new personal assistant will also feature heavy integration with the browser. Customizable tab groupings and a revamped New Tab page also feature as well. Inking support and a reading list are also added in.

In line with the renaming, Microsoft has made a new video highlighting what most of the new features will look like. While light on details and more of a blur than anything, it does showcase everything pretty well. For now we’ll have to wait for Edge to fully hit the Windows 10 Preview before we can see the browser in its entirety as it is still in development.