Microsoft's Edge web browser roadmap includes more Cortana scenarios, extensions

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Although Microsoft is working toward a summer release date to ship its Edge browser, the company also plans to continue adding features. The Edge team revealed some of those plans during its first Edge Web Summit for developers on Tuesday. 

“We need to do more than just the next version of the same old thing,” added Charles Morris, the principal program manager of Edge, summing up the reasons for Microsoft to develop the new Web browser.

Executives said they will add greater integration with Cortana, extensions, and object RTC. A more formal list of features under consideration—similar to the “roadmap” that Microsoft publishes around Office 365—is available at Microsoft’s developer site

Edge will be available only as part of Windows 10, due to ship sometime this summer. Microsoft’s new browser labored under the name “Project Spartan” for months, until being formally renamed last week. (The new Edge logo is reminiscent of the Internet Explorer logo, with a mohawk.) If necessary, such as to render a site that features numerous legacy ActiveX controls, Edge can call Internet Explorer to step in.

Why this matters: The new Edge browser isn't just a long-needed replacement for Internet Explorer. It's also a chance for Microsoft to create a browser platform that caters to the burgeoning world of web-based applications. With this Edge Summit, Microsoft is also creating an opportunity to show off the browser's talents so it can build support among developers. 

More than just the same old thing

Currently, Microsoft has been promoting four user-facing features in Edge: its reading mode, its integrated Cortana service, the ability to mark up Web pages with digital ink, and the eventual addition of extensions.

Paula Chuchro, a program manager for Edge, showed off the ability for Edge to store files for later reading in a sidebar to the reading view, and translate foreign-language Web pages using Bing Translator. Users can also mark up a Web page with digital ink or a keyboard, she said, such as adapting a recipe found on the Web with their own notes. PDF files rendered in the browser can be marked up as well.

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Web pages can be placed in a reading mode that strips them of ads and allows users to adjust the font and background. Users can also store pages for later reading.

One of the most anticipated features of the new browser, however, will be its use of extensions, the additional snippets of code that add functionality to the browser. Unfortunately, that feature won’t be in Edge at its release, and Microsoft’s executives didn’t offer any clarity on when it would appear. Chee Chen Tong, a senior program manager for Edge, showed off three extensions that will work with Edge: the Reddit Enhancement Suite, Pinterest (see top image in article), and a click-to-call Skype extension.

microsoft edge roadmap

The Edge roadmap.

In addition, Cortana support within Edge will be enhanced with new “scenarios,” including automatically displaying a weather forecast as the user begins typing what the digital assistant suspects is a relevant request. More “celebrity answers”—such as “what is the height of Brad Pitt?”—are coming, although those are largely driven by the Cortana services team. Other developer-specific enhancements are en route as well, executives said.

microsot edge extension reddit

An extension for Reddit, running in Microsoft’s Edge browser.

Microsoft’s developer site also has a long list of features that have either been approved, are under consideration, or have been rejected. Among those that Microsoft are considering for Edge include an ambient light event, which would adjust the format of a Web page depending on whether you’re in bright sun or darkened room; access to vibration controls; media recording, and more.

Microsoft executives also made clear that EdgeHTML, the engine that enables web games that could boost your Xbox gamerscore, is the name of the rendering engine, not a separate, proprietary version of the HTML markup language.

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