Yes, the New Microsoft Edge Will Support Chrome Extensions

Posted on December 9, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 49 Comments

Microsoft’s curiously vague announcement about moving the Edge web browser to Chromium has unleashed a torrent of questions about the future. Well, here’s the answer to one of the biggest questions.

Yes, the new Chromium-based Microsoft Edge will support Google’s Chrome’s far more voluminous and capable library of browser extensions.

At least that’s the intention.

“It’s our intention to support existing Chrome extensions,” Microsoft’s Kyle Alden explained on Reddit.

So that’s great news.

Alden also spoke to the schedule for moving both Edge and Windows 10 to Chromium. As noted, the web browser will happen first. But switching over the OS—remember, web-based UWP apps and the PWA engine in Windows 10 both use EdgeHTML today—to Chromium would break things. So Microsoft will offer both side-by-side so that developers can move to Chromium on their own schedules.

“Existing UWP apps (including PWAs in the Store) will continue to use EdgeHTML/Chakra without interruption,” he explains. “We don’t plan to shim under those with a different engine. We do expect to offer a new WebView that apps can choose to use based on the new rendering engine.”

He also addresses whether new Chromium-based Edge will let users install PWAs from the browser, just like Chrome does.

“We expect to provide support for PWAs to be installed directly from the browser (much like with Chrome) in addition to the current Store approach,” he said, though it’s worth noting that the Edge team had previously planned this feature on the old browser too. “We’re not ready to go into all the details yet but PWAs behaving like native apps is still an important principle for us so we’ll be looking into the right system integrations to get that right.”

And yes, the new Edge is coming to Xbox One.

“We are at the early stages of our journey, but it is our intention to bring the next version of Microsoft Edge to all Microsoft devices,” he wrote.

So good news all around.

 

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Comments (51)

51 responses to “Yes, the New Microsoft Edge Will Support Chrome Extensions”

  1. MikeCerm

    “It’s our intention to support existing Chrome extensions” is almost the exact same verbiage they used when talking about Edge extensions all along. They said extensions could be ported with minimal effort... BUT you could only install extensions from the store, and they only allowed a few extensions to be included in the store. Unless they allow you to install untested extensions from the Chrome store, then this doesn't represent much of a change at all. If developers still have to submit their extensions to the Microsoft store and get approval, then nothing changes.

    • jbinaz

      In reply to MikeCerm:

      But I don't think extensions could just be ported as simply as MS said, and they required not insignificant changes. If, and that is a big if, devs really can submit them with almost no changes (metadata changes only), then it's not a big deal to submit to two stores.


      Time will tell, and I hope MS gets it right.

  2. madthinus

    I hope that list is curated for better security.

  3. Darekmeridian


    Wait a minute, “It’s our intention to support existing Chrome extensions,” sounds a lot like what they said about this current version of Edge. Wasn't it supposed to support Chrome extensions with little modification from the developers?


    And does this mean that you can just go to the chrome web store and click on and extension and it'll load or do we still have to get extensions from the Microsoft store? And if that's the case will developers bother to submit their extensions to the store because I don't think it's ok for Microsoft to scrape the Google Web Store..


    I think there are still questions.




    • jimchamplin

      In reply to Darekmeridian:

      Sounds like Edge is going to be a very thin reskin of Chromium!

    • valisystem

      In reply to Darekmeridian:

      Exactly the right questions. Paul wrote this in 2015: "Edge will support an extension model similar to that found in Google Chrome and Firefox. . . . Edge’s extension model will be very compatible with Chrome’s, so you will be able to use many of those extensions, and porting Chrome extensions to Edge should be fairly simple. Microsoft says that extensions will be available through the Windows Store."


      If developers have to take any affirmative action to get an extension to work, then it's hard to see what will cause the new MS browser to gain any more traction than Edge. And if this is just one more attempt to revive the moribund MS Store, then it's a non-starter.

  4. ioannis

    As far as I am concerned this is what it comes to:

    what ever you guys build or building on the existing PWA and edge/chakra engine will work, but no new features and development will happen, (and at some point we will stop supporting it) so rewrite everything for the new engine.your time is not important for us(MS) and you can rewrite your code.

    Great idea MS


    • silversee

      In reply to ioannis:

      Except from a developer's perspective, there is very little difference: it's all HTML5 + JavaScript. The whole point of building progressive web applications is that they run with little to no modification across many browsers and platforms. There is no "rewrite everything for the new engine" going on here.


      Sure, there will be minor differences, which is why Microsoft is (wisely) leaving the choice to the developer to migrate their apps when ready. But your analysis that this requires throwing everything out and starting over is wrong.

      • Tony Barrett

        In reply to Silversee:

        So, MS is 'wisely leaving the choice to devs'. What MS are doing, again, is throwing devs under a bus who decided to develop for EdgeHTML, because MS said it was great, and would be the future. Ok, so Edge was only used by a small miniority, but this is Microsoft's business plan - promise devs everything, then deliver nothing.

        • silversee

          In reply to ghostrider:

          "What MS are doing, again, is throwing devs under a bus who decided to develop for EdgeHTML..."


          No, you are wrong. With respect to Web developers, Microsoft has only ever promoted developing for *open web standards*, and *testing* their sites in Edge. You don't "develop for EdgeHTML." Edge is HTML5 + JavaScript, like all modern browsers.

  5. IanYates82

    So like opera, brave, Vivaldi, etc. You'll get a custom user experience - menus, bookmarks, etc wrapped around a webview. That'll support the extensions, etc.

    Reasonable approach.


    Was wondering about the xbox. Good to see it coming there.


    EdgeHTML would need to stay in the system since apps will have taken a dependency. I could see a future where it's fetched on demand if you install a UWP app that needs it rather than it being in-box and on the disk at all times.


    Did the iot platform have edge HTML capabilities?

  6. SYNERDATA

    It really is not advisable to develop anything for Microsoft's new platforms because they are invariably cancelled before one's product is finished. It is notable however, that if one develops for platforms Microsoft intends to compete with, they eventually give up and join their former developers in supporting their competition to be on the same platforms they have driven all their former developers onto by continually cancelling everything until they give up being jerked around. Its a far more serious issue than anyone seems willing or interested in talking about or acknowledging.


    I miss being able to develop applications for Microsoft systems and then being able to deploy them before the systems are cancelled and all my work is thrown away by Microsoft like our investments were worth nothing to them.


    Win32 is still around, and can still be developed for, and so I am sticking with what they have not cancelled yet, sadly.

  7. digiguy

    So much pessimism here.... Personally I think it will end up like opera, where you can take chrome extensions and install them freely... If I am able to import all my favorites in Edge without it messing with them like it does now, and can run chrome extentions (especially the one I use to track mails) I could see myself moving to Edge as secondary or eveny primary browser on some devices, especially Windows on Arm, which is the future in my option...

  8. ndwilder

    If I interpret this move correctly, MS once again gives developers reason not to trust them.

  9. Wondering_Bard

    I guarantee you that most of people in here that are complaining about Microsoft killing a developer ecosystem are not actually web developers. If you are lucky they are C++ or .NET developers that are chafing against the oncoming and inevitable changes to the development world.


    If you were developing a web app, PWA, or store app and you focused your product, your business, on the tiny minority marketshare (3%) represented by Edge, you are the ideot, not Microsoft.


    The reality is that developers of web-based products focus development on Chrome and troubleshoot on Firefox and Edge. Getting rid of EdgeHTML eases the burden on both developers and QA. Nobody focused development on Edge or the Windows Store. Nobody. The numbers simply didn't allow it. Firefox, maybe, but even then, web development is Chrome first and everything else second.


    And by embracing a standard of web / app development, Windows will likely see a huge influx of both quality and quantity in the Windows Store. Something that is absolutely needed. Something I look forward to. Something you should look forward to as well.


    And for those of you worried about Scroogled, look at Vivaldi and Brave. Both great Chromium projects built to improve on Chrome while removing Google from it. MS will do the same, I guarantee you.


    Real web developers praise this change. Users will praise this change, if they somehow learn about it. The rest of you comprise a tiny minority of ideots that should have seen this coming when MS finally kicked out Terry Myerson.

    • skane2600

      In reply to Wondering_Bard:

      There's a long history of developers complaining when their ideological beliefs are in conflict with business priorities . Back in the days when IE was dominant web devs complained that they couldn't use the same HTML for IE as they did for other browsers despite the fact that those other browsers were irrelevant from a business perspective at that time.


      So this sort of dev "bitching" isn't the exclusive behavior of any particular segment of the developer community.

    • curtisspendlove

      In reply to Wondering_Bard:

      Calling people idiots is always professional and proves you’re a much better web developer than the rest.


      :)


      BTW most of the devs here complaining are not complaining about web development.


      This is obviosly better than having to support yet another non-standard renderer (most of which have been from Microsoft).


      We are complaining about Microsoft’s non-web efforts.


      Again, Microsoft make amazing dev tools, and usually make excellent APIs. They just change the “native” APIs far too often.

    • Robert-Hostetler

      In reply to Wondering_Bard:

      I was an ASP.NET developer during the IE6 era - what was bad was:

      • Microsoft developer tools not generating standards compliant code
      • IE6 not keeping up with standards changes over time. By the time Microsoft started doing a much better job with the web with IE7 and later versions, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari were eating away at market share.
      • ASP.NET not doing a good job of recognizing what each web browser's web standards compatibilities were. The ASP.NET tags in your front end code get converted on the fly to normal front end code on each page load. For years, alternative web browsers ran the risk of being considered an out of date app and got low capability code sent to it. On some projects, I actually had to manually update the config file on the IIS web server to modify the rules so another browser like Safari would actually get proper modern HTML/CSS/JavaScript. Hopefully this sort of problem no longer exists, but I can't comment on that.


      I am personally for the change. Specifically, what I hope Microsoft + Google + everyone else standardizing on Chromium does going forward is being good stewards of the internet and web standards. I think overall that can occur while the companies still achieve their business goals.


      For example: Microsoft seems to really, really, really want people using Azure and Office 365. Users having an awesome web browser makes that experience better.



      • JackWang

        In reply to Robert-Hostetler:

        I too am for the change. I use Firefox 95% of the time and 5% Edge, and would like web standards to be W3C defined, rather than Blink dictated, but Microsoft needs to align with Google's push towards PWA rather than languish fighting the Chromium mainstream. Heck, even if the only selling point of Edge branded Chromium is sending your stats to Microsoft rather than Google, at least gives people the choice to choose something that is not Google, that performs as well. Maybe if Microsoft had more vision they would replace Google services with Edge services on Android OSP, and truly allow people to ditch Google if they choose this route.

  10. Jorge Garcia

    OT. It's time to accept that the Android App ecosystem is where the World is going. Windows should just integrate with the Google Play Store already. If they can hack ChromeOS to run Android Apps, then they can do that for Windows too. (I know there are already third-party hackish apps like Bluestacks and NOX).

    • skane2600

      In reply to JG1170:

      "It's time to accept that the Android App ecosystem is where the World is going"


      The world of mobile, mostly, the world of the desktop, mostly not. If Android was going to dominate on the desktop we should have already seen a healthy market share for Chromebooks and it hasn't happened. Perhaps if Google were to pull a UWP in reverse, depreciating the current mobile architecture in favor of a full-featured and powerful desktop OS , it might happen, but it's still would be a long-shot.

      • Jorge Garcia

        In reply to skane2600:

        Of course I disagree. In India, they are producing desktop versions of Android to fill the gaping hole that exists between the "butter-knife" mobile OS's and the "chainsaw" desktop OS's. Someone needs to make a "dinner knife" OS. If Google doesn't, others will. I can totally see large swaths of people (in developing countries, especially) graduating from their Android phones to an Android laptop...and stopping there because their lifetime computing needs are totally met. Then, should they choose to partake in more serious business/pro endeavors, they would need to dive into the Windows or MacOS world. The success, or lack thereof Chromebooks really doesn't speak much to this issue as their existence just muddies up the waters. For example, only recently have Chromebooks been made to run Android Apps (in a less than ideal way, no less)...and it is only the higher end ones that even come with the option to do it! So I am sure that scattered message has turned off a lot of potential buyers. I honestly think that there a lot of normal people out there who still don't know what to make out of ChromeOS, and so, out of inertia, they buy yet another Windows machine, when the Chromebook probably would have met their needs and then some. Google needs to get their act together, no doubt...and I think they will eventually, with Fuchsia...but I think that in other parts of the World they are simply not going to wait for Google and they are just going to build out the free and open-source Android platform to meet almost all of their basic computing needs....like IndusOS and PrimeOS are starting to do. I think that it is time for Microsoft to read and accept the writing on the wall and include, if not the official Google Play Store, then their own Android App Store for Windows. I know it is possible to pull off with an emulation layer and optimizations.

        • skane2600

          In reply to JG1170:

          Android was designed from the ground up to be a mobile OS and the limitations of that architecture don't go away just because somebody creates a fork of it. A better alternative to Windows or MacOS would be a new OS that was designed with an architecture and features that compete with the productivity aspects of those legacy OS's.


          IMO the closest thing to a "productivity-lite" environment is web apps and Chromebooks as originally envisioned is the logical platform for that middle road. The fact that Chromebooks haven't done all that well suggests that users aren't all that interested in a middle solution. Adding Android apps seems more an act of desperation than being part of the plan.

  11. SherlockHolmes

    I have one hope: The one that Edge will become a normal desktop app so you can uninstall it.

  12. sgbassett

    What I wonder is whether Edge on Chromium will retain the ability to annotate the page using a stylus? I did it the first time a few years ago when giving a presentation to a large professional group. I had my (then brand new) Surface Book connected to the meeting room's projection system. I was able to call up web pages in Edge and annotate them with my Surface Pen. It was useful. Since then, I've used the same technique in a law school class I teach.


    It would seem this ability should not be tied to the rendering engine, but is part of the Edge user interface that will be carried over to Edge on Chromium. At least I hope that is true.

  13. brduffy

    I learned the hard way that Microsoft is too much of a moving target to develop for any more. I figured the UWP platform would be something to focus on for the future but then they bailed on the phone. Its a shame, because I think C# is a great language and MS knows how to build great frameworks for it given enough time. But I'm tired of programming for platforms that *might* amount to something. I'm going native all the way on platforms that are proven to be where people go to run applications.

    • BoItmanLives

      In reply to brduffy:

      Yep. Microsoft has already pretty much abandoned UWP, and will abandon the windows 10 store too - that's why I and 99.99% of 10 users never even open it let alone give it a credit card.


      MS is just going to coast on Azure profits and ELA/O365 license renewals while trying to ride Google's coattails for everything else.

    • skane2600

      In reply to brduffy:

      Developing for iOS or Android native makes sense as long as you are going to create small utilities, games, or consumption apps. The fact is that Windows remains the biggest market for native productivity applications by a wide margin.


      If you don't insist on the "latest and greatest" tools, many of MS's legacy non-UWP tools still work fine and can be used to create first-class applications even if they're not being enhanced. One rarely uses all the capabilities of a particular tool anyway. In some cases the legacy tools are still being enhanced. High DPI support was added to Windows Forms just last year (for Windows 10).


      MacOS is a much smaller market, but perhaps the platform tools are more stable than MS's, I don't know.

      • curtisspendlove

        In reply to skane2600:

        Perhaps. But not in the consumer space. Microsoft has most of the “productivity” tools wrapped up. VS Code is even cutting into a very significant amount of money developers were willing to pay for a good code editor.


        Although macOS has significantly fewer users, most of them are willing to part with an acceptable amount of money for good apps. This allows a few small businesses to flourish with some really good apps. But even that space has taken a downturn in the last few years.


        Apple has an excellent developer tool ecosystem. But Microsoft also has an excellent developer tools ecosystem. The main difference in developer story is that Apple keeps its tools and APIs stable for a long time. And they provide an excellent regression strategy. Microsoft keeps bringing out the “new shiny” way of doing things. And developers are feeling a bit burned.


        But the *real* problem is that it is almost impossible to find a consumer space that a large enough population of Windows users are willing to spend money for. (This is generally not the case for business / enterprise software. In fact, I’d say that situation is reversed for enterprise: easier to find for Windows user base and less easy to find on the Apple side. Although business users on the Apple side pretty much just also use the consumer applications.)


        This is why it is difficult to find “best of class” consumer applications for Windows. They just aren’t worth it, in most cases, to write.

        • Truffles

          In reply to curtisspendlove:

          MS on the desktop sucked-up all the revenue and turned a once vibrant ecosystem into a desert. Remember the days when magazines had page after page of feature comparisons for wordprocessors, spreadsheets, databases, languages, browsers and editors etc? Not anymore because MS owns all of those segments.


          I sometimes wonder what great ideas were never dreamed-up because of the lack of the lack of competition.

          • curtisspendlove

            In reply to Truffles:

            I sometimes wonder what great ideas were never dreamed-up because of the lack of the lack of competition.


            Agreed. There are definitely still some great apps out there. But many of them are a labor of love, instead of a monetary effort. And those aren’t often sustainable.

        • skane2600

          In reply to curtisspendlove:

          I'm not clear on what you consider "consumer applications". There are millions of PCs and Macs that aren't used for business purposes but are used by people at home.

          • curtisspendlove

            In reply to skane2600:

            In the software business one generally defines the “consumer space” as the software purchased or used by individuals, vs purchased by business funds or for business needs.


            It is a bit more nuanced than that, of course, but in general this works.


            An example: I bought a consumer version of MS Office for our family to use, homework, personal finances, etc. I also have a copy of Office (2013) on the laptop my company provides me for work purposes.


            On macOS you can usually find some pretty excellent versions of apps for almost any purpose. For Windows (and to a lesser degree Android) you usually don’t find many excellent versions of apps.


            A couple of notable examples that come to mind are Markdown Editors and Podcast apps. Vertical market, for sure, but one Paul’s has even lamented on this very site. There are *excellent* markdown editors/viewers on macOS and IOS, and excellent podcast players on iOS. (Desktops seem to not have a huge amount of really great podcast players, but that is understandable).


            (Yes, this is also largely a matter of opionion and what one values in an app. But regardless, in the developer-based discussion in this thread, it is much harder to justify a decent monetary return on Windows and Android. However, as I’ve also stated, this is “drying up” on the Apple side of the fence too.)

            • skane2600

              In reply to curtisspendlove:

              I'm not sure if I agree with your definition since PCs were not historically considered consumer devices even though many consumers were using them at home. But given that definition I'd say that any program that is used exclusively by businesses is not a consumer application and everything else is.


              Given that podcasts can be easily listened to in a browser a podcast player sounds rather superfluous on the desktop. The fact that such development is taking place in the appropriate environment doesn't seem to have many negative implications for the desktop.


              While I'm sure not every use of a markdown editor is professional, it's hardly something commonly used by average users at home.


              Although a lot of money in total has been made from selling iOS and Android apps, it's not clear if the median revenue earned on those platforms is any better than it would be on Windows or the Mac.

              • curtisspendlove

                In reply to skane2600:

                Again, those were a couple of examples. There are many others. But you’re not disproving my point.


                Please feel free to point out any great native applications that Windows users just love to use.


                Please feel free to point out even a few small businesses that make a decent living for a small team on native Windows apps.


                I can list quite a few on the Apple side of the fence.


                I’m sure they are there on the Windows side, but I doubt they are nearly as many.


                I’ve been looking though, and haven’t found many replacements.


                Let’s just say I have been looking for the Windows equivalent of this site:


                thesweetsetup.com/


                ...and I haven’t yet found it.


                Oh! There you go. Good examples there.


                No great, simple, elegant mail or calendar apps. I’m settling for the built-in Windows 10 ones for now. Thunderbird is horrible for personal mail, so is Outlook. (Though I quite like “Outlook” for iOS.)


                Update: incidentally I found Mailbird, which looks pretty good. They may even have a reasonably priced “pro” offering I would consider targeted toward small business / consumers.

                • skane2600

                  In reply to curtisspendlove:

                  There's no point in us exchanging anecdotal stories about people who love particular applications or small software development companies. In the absence of real statistics we would both be just speculating.


                  We do know that about 80% to 95% of all mobile apps are free although we don't know how many of them get revenue from in-app purchases.


                  Personally I find sophisticated email and calendar apps to be overkill, but that's just me.

                • curtisspendlove

                  In reply to skane2600:

                  There's no point in us exchanging anecdotal stories about people who love particular applications or small software development companies.


                  Touché, but my point is that it is relevant to the discussion. If developers don’t feel like they can make money, there is little incentive beyond “loving the craft” to write applications which support a platform.


                  If there are no “consumer” Windows applications, there is less and less reason for consumers to use the platform.


                  If everything I want to do on my computer is in Chrome...maybe it isn’t a bad idea to just try that new, simpler Google computer.


                  It looks *horrible* to developers that Microsoft is killing off their *own* consumer initiatives (WMP, Groove, etc).


                  See where I’m going? It *is* relevant. And will become more so as this trend continues.

                • skane2600

                  In reply to curtisspendlove:

                  IMO most of the development on iOS and Android is either based on "loving the craft" or extremely wishful thinking, not based on actual financial success.


                  I think your definition of "consumer" applications is still drifting around. There are many applications in Windows that are used by consumers.


                  I don't see why developers should feel threatened by Microsoft killing WMP or Groove. MS doesn't have to be involved in everything and Groove was never successful. In fact Groove was available on many platforms so its failure had nothing to do with Windows.

  14. hrlngrv

    Mozilla intends for Firefox to support Chrome extensions, but not that many Chrome extensions work in Firefox. Good thing there are also lots of Firefox extensions. OTOH, Firefox uses a different rendering engine. More Chrome extensions work in Opera, which uses the same rendering engine.

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