Microsoft is enhancing the new Edge's PDF powers, and bringing it to Linux

In the bad old days, users often needed a third-party tool for PDF management. Most new browsers, like Microsoft Edge, allow you to work within the browser instead.

20h2 new edge intro screen windows 10 microsoft
Mark Hachman / IDG

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Microsoft is upgrading users to the new Microsoft Edge browser as part of the Windows 10 October 2020 Update feature update. One of the areas it will improve is how the new Edge browser handles PDFs.

The other upgrade is aimed at Linux fans eager for the Edge experience. Microsoft said that a preview of Edge for Linux will be available in October, downloadable either from Microsoft’s Insider website or the package manager.

Otherwise, Microsoft will announce at its Microsoft Ignite conference on Tuesday that users will be able to add notes to PDF files within the new Microsoft Edge, bringing the browser back a bit closer to the capabilities of the current Edge browser. The new Edge will also include support for a table of contents, allowing users to navigate back and forth within a PDF file.

The “old” or “legacy” Edge browser was part of Windows 10 until this year, when Microsoft detailed plans to launch the “new” Edge browser based on Chromium, the same underpinnings as Google’s own Chrome browser. Like Chrome, the new Edge can use Chrome plugins, while the older version could not. The “old” Edge found within Microsoft’s version 2004 (the May 2020 Update) still allows users to fill out a PDF like a form, as well as mark it up with electronic ink, add sticky notes, and use Cortana to look up words within a PDF. (Our earlier PDF-on-Edge tutorial explains further.)

Microsoft is also adding the ability for users to be able to view and validate certificate-backed digital signatures within PDF files, ensuring that the documents are in the state intended by the signer. (Note that that’s different than actually signing the PDF with a digital pen, a capability that’s in the superb but often overlooked Office for iOS/Android app.)

As it typically does, Microsoft offered a varied timeline for the features’ adoption. Taking notes within a PDF will be added in October. Microsoft didn’t add a date for validating digital signatures or supporting tables of contents within Edge.

For most users, who may simply use Edge to browse from one site to another, the differences between the old Edge and the new may not be as profound. PDF use, however, is an important part of a browser’s capabilities, and Microsoft is working to push the new Edge further in that direction.  

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