Here's how Microsoft Collections, Edge's new research tool, will work

Microsoft wants you to use Collections to plan your next trip, research your next tech toy, or more.

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Microsoft's Edge browser has a new research tool called Collections that addresses a task as old as the World Wide Web: collecting and archiving content for later review. This task has traditionally been accomplished by everything from the traditional browser bookmark, to note-taking apps, and now Collections.

At Microsoft’s Build developer conference on Monday, executives showed off how Collections will work. Collections allows you to save webpages and snippets of information inside of a Collection tab on the right-hand rail. If you’re planning a trip or researching a new purchase, Collections may be for you.

What makes it different, though, is that you can export your Collection to Word or Excel, and Microsoft will add a bit of intelligence to make it even more useful: citations within Word, or automated formatting within Excel.

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Microsoft Collections allows you to collect and then format a number of reviews in an easy-to-read spreadsheet.

Divya Kumar, a group product marketing manager at Microsoft, showed what you’ll end up with: a Word document where a text snippet is referenced with an auto-generated bookmark at the end of the text. Even better was a collection of camera reviews, which Excel auto-organized into a chart divided by name, rating, and price using the built-in metadata.

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Spreadhseets are launched and indexed in the Collections tab within Edge.

“[Collections] helps us organize, share, and collect content more efficiently,” Kumar said, part of a demonstration during chief executive Satya Nadella’s keynote address that opened Build.

Collections is part of the revamped Edge browser being shown off at Build, which is built upon the Chromium open-source rendering engine that powers Google Chrome. In fact, based upon what Microsoft showed off at Build, it appears Microsoft is using its new browser as a “do-over” of sorts for what elements should be a in a web browser, period.

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You can grab a snippet of text from a Web page and add it to a Collection.

For example, Collections opens from the upper right, where Microsoft’s Favorites and Sharing icons reside. Clicking Collections opens up the right rail, where there’s an option to start a new collection. Each collection is represented by primary images representing the collection: pictures of a vacation destination, for example, or conference photos.

From there, constructing a Collection appears fairly simple. First, you select a name for the Collection, then start adding data: a text snippet or image. (It appears that you can also simply drag over the URL of a webpage, though that wasn’t demonstrated.)  When the Collection is complete it can be saved or shared. It can also be exported to Word or Excel, which is where Edge formats the data if it can.

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...And if you do, Word will create an automatic citation for your snippet.

Microsoft hasn’t said when Collections will arrive within Edge, but it appears that it will happen sooner rather than later. If so, you’ll gain another tool to research items on the web. 

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