When will Microsoft's Edge browser get extensions?

It won't have them when Windows 10 is released…

If there are features you're hoping to see that aren't yet in Microsoft's new Edge browser, be prepared to wait until this autumn. The most important of those incoming features is extension support, which may also be how Microsoft addresses the question of Tracking Protection Lists and ad blocking – and it won't be in Edge at RTM.

Autumn is also when we'll get more of the Cortana features we saw demoed in January, along with Object RTC (the upcoming version of WebRTC, which will make it easier for developers to build web apps for making voice and video calls) and pointer lock. The latter lets you lock the mouse pointer into your browser if you're playing a game, so you don't accidentally click somewhere else and lose the game.

Evergreen Edge

This strategy is part of what Microsoft means by calling Edge an evergreen browser – especially because it's what web apps in the Windows Store are based on – although the update schedule isn't yet set. So far, Edge has been getting new features about twice a month as part of the Insider program, and the Windows Insider program will continue after launch, but even users who aren't Insiders will get frequent updates.

"Being locked to the next version of Windows and rolling releases are now the same thing," Sean Lyndersay of the browser team said at Build. "Windows 10 itself will be doing rolling releases and users will be brought along. The entire app platform on Windows 10 is going to be kept evergreen across the entire consumer base and Edge will move along with that. We haven't worked out the exact cadence of whether it's 45 days or 90 days or 73 days or whatever, though."

The team is also looking at using release numbers to make it clearer for developers which features the Edge browser has in different flights.

Edge will have PDF and Flash support built in, but other extensions will be based on what Lyndersay calls "the HTML5 and JavaScript extensions that are the standard on the web today," not binary add-ons like ActiveX, which IE 11 continues to support.

Easy transition

The demos the Edge team gave of extensions running in the browser at the recent Build conference used a version of the browser that isn't yet released, and used extensions that the Edge team adapted after getting the extension code from the original developers, like the Reddit and Pinterest extensions (the latter is pictured above). In both cases, he said, "we were able to bring it over to Microsoft Edge almost unchanged, we were able to bring it up with very few changes to the extension itself."

Bing translation extension

The Bing Translate team wrote this Edge extension which both translates the page and flips it into reading view

"We want to make it very easy for developers to bring extensions to Edge," he said, but also noted that "we would like to have extensions do unique things with features we have in the browser." The Skype team has written an extension that picks up phone numbers on the page and the Bing Translate team has written an extension that switches Edge into reading view and translates the site from another language at the same time (because if you can't read the language of a site, the links and navigation on the page aren't that useful).

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Mary (Twitter, Google+, website) started her career at Future Publishing, saw the AOL meltdown first hand the first time around when she ran the AOL UK computing channel, and she's been a freelance tech writer for over a decade. She's used every version of Windows and Office released, and every smartphone too, but she's still looking for the perfect tablet. Yes, she really does have USB earrings.