Microsoft Touts the Growth of Extensions in Edge

Posted on September 29, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 45 Comments

Microsoft Touts the Growth of Extensions in Edge

A little over a year after Microsoft Edge first gained extension support, there are now over 70 extensions available for Microsoft’s browser.

“It has been a little more than a year since Microsoft first shipped the number one requested feature for Microsoft Edge – extensions,” a blog post credited to the Microsoft Edge Team notes. “Today, we are excited to share a few updates on the progress we have made since then, and a quick look at what’s planned for the future.”

Since shipping the first extensions for Microsoft Edge in mid-2016, the software giant has worked to improve the capabilities of extensions. This includes the following:

Native messaging. This allows an extension to communicate with a UWP app on the PC so that it can integrate with more sophisticated functionality outside of the browser.

Bookmarks This lets the extension access your favorites (with your permission, of course).

Improved APIs. This one is a bit vague, but Microsoft says that it has “improved and fleshed out the existing API classes” that were originally provided in the Anniversary Update, in effect increasing the number of APIs by over 30 percent.

Fundamentals. Over time, the reliability and performance of the Edge extension platform have improved, and Microsoft says it will continue to focus on improving these fundamentals in future releases too.

While I’ve complained about the slow pace of extension availability in Microsoft Edge, the firm says it has deliberately “metered” their release.

“Extensions are one of the most substantial features in a new browser, and we have a high bar for quality,” Microsoft says. “Because extensions interact so closely with the browser, we have been very attuned to the security, performance, and reliability of Microsoft Edge with these extensions enabled. Starting with a small group of the most popularly requested extensions has allowed us to mature our extension ecosystem as alongside our extension platform, as well as to build a smooth onboarding experience for developers over time.”

Today, with over 70 extensions, including some heavy-hitters, the situation isn’t so dire. In fact, my most-needed extensions, including Grammarly, are available in Edge. And as I noted in Edge of 17(09): Microsoft’s Browser Edges Forward, Edge’s support of extensions is finally “good enough.” This is no longer a reason to skip out on Microsoft Edge.


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Comments (49)

49 responses to “Microsoft Touts the Growth of Extensions in Edge”

  1. PeteB

    "This is no longer a reason to skip out on Microsoft Edge."

    Except that it still sucks, it's still buggy, it still freezes far too often when opening a new tab, it's still a crappy sandboxed metro app, it still only works on one version of one operating system - probably the most boneheaded design decision of all.

    In light of all that it'll remain a glorified Chrome downloader, no other reason to bother with it.

    • rameshthanikodi

      In reply to PeteB:

      "sandboxed" is not a valid criticism in 2017.

    • jbinaz

      In reply to PeteB:

      Your experience is vastly different than mine. I don't find it very buggy at all and I've never noticed any freezing opening a new tab. In 1703, yes, but not in 1709. "It's a crappy sandboxed metro app", but I'm not sure how I see that is relevant. Besides the freezing opening new tabs, what other bugs are you experiencing?

      As for working on only "one version of one operating system", I suppose they could have ported it back to Windows 8, but I suspect it relies on OS stuff only present in 10. (Which is a bad idea - it shouldn't be that dependent on the OS. I hope it's abstracted in some way. It would be great to see it to be able to updated independently of the OS.) As for not being an Android or Mac version (I'm assuming those are the other OSes you'd like to see it on), I'm guessing it's not worth the development expense. Paul mentioned on Windows Weekly that it would be great if they could use Cortana on the back end to sync bookmarks, saved passwords, etc., which is an interesting idea.

    • ym73

      In reply to PeteB:

      Don't have much issue with freezing. Occassionally, it freezes for a few seconds when opening certain sites. I personally want the browser to be sandboxed. I've gotten viruses before just by visiting a site. It wasn't a sketchy site either. It seems that sometimes the ads that are hosted on some sites can have insert a virus. I didn't download or click on anything.

      Of course, edge is on one version of Microsoft's OS. They don't support the older versions of windows anymore. They never promised to support their software forever. They should try to get their browser on mobile. If Google can get android on all these other operating systems, Microsoft should be able to do it as well.

      My main issue with edge is that there are still many sites that just don't work properly on edge.

      • PeteB

        In reply to ym73: Of course, edge is on one version of Microsoft's OS. They don't support the older versions of windows anymore. They never promised to support their software forever.

        Chrome does. So it's MS's loss if they don't bother to support still the most popular version of Windows (7) like Chrome does.

  2. lordbaal1

    The last insiders update, Edge gotten way faster. It's even faster than Chrome, which I run adblock.

    Edge, without adblock, is faster than Chrome.

  3. Bats

    This is nice for Edge and hard core Microsoft fans. However, it has no shot against Google's Chrome without a mobile app. Not just that, but it also needs to be on Mac OS X and iOS.

    Oh yeah,...there is also one more OS, Edge needs an APP for. That APP is Windows 7.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to Bats:

      To the extent Edge uses features new in Windows 10, expanding it to other Windows versions either means bringing those Windows 10 features elsewhere or dumbing Edge down so much it wouldn't really be Edge.

      For Android and iOS, would they be able to use Edge's rendering engine, or would Edge just be a different UI around the standard rendering engine? IOW, Edge on Android and iOS may not be worth it if it can't really be full Edge under those OSes.

  4. Markld

    On my laptop, I use Edge about 90% of the time and Chrome 10% of the time. Actually, I use Chrome to watch YouTube videos primarily as it does a better job (also Kaspersky Password Manager works as an extension only in Chrome) than Edge. However, Edge works just fine for me in most tasks, and I use only a few extensions. As a browser, I like it. I never have had any bugs or problems using it. I will continue to do so.

    The big thing to me is how much people are so invested in their own little worlds and what they use or like, that they aren't open to differences. I think it's petty.

    Paul does such a good job of explaining that the Edge browser can be something of value and it maybe worth trying.

  5. Tsang Man Fai

    Why people use Chrome instead of Edge?

    Just my rough estimation based on my daily observation: (the % don't add up to 100% as they have some overlapping)

    ~80% ppl think Chrome is faster and more stable. They don't want to have a try on Edge even for 1 minute.

    ~50% ppl don't know the existence of Edge (but they did launched Edge at least once when they downloaded Chrome)

    ~for those who know Edge, 95% of them think Edge is as bad as IE

    ~90% ppl are using Google acc but sadly Edge does not support auto sync of bookmarks from their Google acc (not sure whether it is MS' move not to support it, or Google refuses to support it)

    ~30% ppl think Edge=IE

    ~50% ppl don't want to use any thing made by MS except Windows & Office

    ~20% ppl want to use extensions in browser. Those extensions are not available in Edge / they even don't know Edge supports at least some common extensions.

    Before MS has gained more presence in the mobile space, I don't think there is any efficient strategies to encourage ppl to use Edge. Windows 10S was supposed to kick Chrome out of Windows but MS was too slow in bringing quality apps to Windows Store.

  6. videosavant

    I recently used Edge exclusively on the desktop for the better part of a month.

    I agree that there's a reasonably good selection of extensions, but there are still some useful ones missing, including an RSS finder, Authy (2FA), a URL shortener, and something similar to Honey (discount coupon finder at checkout). None of those are necessarily deal-breakers alone, but together they add up to a substantial demerit.

    But Edge overall is not ready for prime time. I found several serious shortcomings/bugs, such as a bug that causes the mouse scroll wheel to jump from previous or next pages in a tab, rather than scrolling up and down. I'm a Windows 10 Insider, but this has been broken for at least a half dozen builds and even now, as the Fall Creator's Update is getting down to the short strokes, it's still broken. I was determined to stick with Edge for a month, but this alone tested my patience and resolve more than anything else. This is a bug that has been reported by dozens of other uses on the MS help site, but still it's broken. Not impressive.

    While it is now possible to use a pop-up to perform a search based on text on the clipboard, Edge insists on funneling that search through Cortana, which involves wasted steps and time.

    Also, Edge handles Tab History poorly, though I think this is more down to bugs than design. If I right-click on the Back or Forward toolbar keys, Edge will show my back/forward history, but clicking on any of the items in the dropdown menu results in...nothing. It just remains on the current page.

    There are a half dozen other minor annoyances. It was nice to go back to Chrome. I'll check out Edge again in a year, but if there isn't obvious substantial improvement, I won't be hanging around for a month.

    The thing is, these sorts of problems are typical of Microsoft. They just are not very good at the sort of "fit, finish and polish" that Google and Apple do so well. I don't know why, but it's endemic right across the board.

    Here's an example from Windows 10 File Explorer.

    I love the File Explorer Quick Access panel on the left side of the window. It's a great way to jump quickly to the local, network and OneDrive folders that I use regularly.

    This is a fairly simple tool and it seems to me obvious that the way to configure my Quick Access folders is to put the most-used at the top of the list and then the others in descending order. I mean, what could be more logical?

    Except that every time I open a File Explorer window, Windows scrolls the Quick Access list to the middle of the list, rather than to the top. As a result, I ALWAYS have to scroll up to get to the folders I use most.

    How effing stupid is that, and how lame is it that this remains "broken" since the release of Windows 10 more than 2 years ago? This is a perfect example of how Microsoft comes up with a great idea and then drops the ball through hideously poor execution.

  7. Tony Barrett

    Edge is failing to gain much market share. Infact, Chrome's market share is still increasing, despite Microsoft's efforts (some would say pleading) to try Edge. This is probably because Edge was so poor when Win10 initially launched (just like 10 was), that many tried it briefly, laughed, moved on and never came back. I'm sure Edge is better now, but the damage was done, and it will struggle for the foreseeable future. MS released it way before it was ready, and are now paying the price.

  8. bluvg

    Does anyone else find that Edge consumes a TON of memory?

  9. hrlngrv

    I may be quite odd about this, but unlike all the other browsers I use, Edge lacks a file open command. I press [Ctrl]+O and nothing. The reason this is irritating is that if I have it up & running and I want to open, say, a local PDF file, I have to open a new tab, type file:///c:/ (or a different drive letter) to launch a File Explorer window. Doable, but inconvenient. For me it's the little things which make Edge the most unpleasant of browsers.

  10. Stokkolm

    Is there a good autoplay video sensing extension yet? That's really the last big category of extensions that I have personally been looking for.

  11. MikeGalos

    Cool. I only use 6 extensions on Edge but they've been surprisingly solid even through the Insider Program builds. The slow release and solid testing seem to have been worth it.

    • jbinaz

      In reply to MikeGalos:

      I've had a bit of trouble with the insider builds and extensions. LastPass kept getting corrupted and I'd have to remove it and reinstall it. And when I say remove it, I mean manually using the remove appx method. A real pain. But now that my primary desktop is on 16299, everything has been pretty good. No issues.

  12. bbold

    Edge is fantastic and I wish people would give it the credit it deserves. Edge is kind of like the red headed stepchild, for sure.

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