Microsoft has announced a bunch of new updates that are incoming for the Edge web browser. Extension sync across devices, sidebar search and better handling of Progressive Web Apps (PWA) are on the horizon. At the BUILD 2020 conference, Microsoft unveiled the new line-up of features for Edge which will be rolled out to developers in the coming weeks.
For starters, there is extension sync which will allow you sync all the add-ons and extensions across computing devices running the Microsoft Edge web browser with your account signed in. This was one of the areas where Edge was still catching up to Google Chrome in the web browser stakes, but that is also set to change. The Extension sync feature will be available in the Sync menu in the Edge settings, and you will have the option to enable it or leave it disabled. We do not still know whether this will work for all extensions—but the expectation is that it will.
Microsoft is also making Progressive Web Apps work a bit better on Edge now. The new update will allow Edge to open PWAs in a standalone menu and Windows 10 users will be able to add these apps to the Start Menu and the Taskbar. “We’re working on updates to make this integration even smoother—you’ll be able to manage them from settings, use them to share (and receive shared content), and more,” says Microsoft.
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Microsoft is also making the Sidebar more powerful for quick web searches. The new implementation will allow users to select any word or text on the web page, choose the ‘search in sidebar’ option from the right-click menu and see the search results in the sidebar without closing the already open web page or having to switch tabs or open another window.
The Edge web browser is also getting the automatic profile switching feature. As the name suggests, Automatic Profile Switching will detect if you are trying to visit a site you usually visit from your work profile, but instead you are using your personal profile this time—and Microsoft Edge will prompt you about the detection. If you respond in the affirmative, Edge make the switch automatically for that particular website. All the profiles and their data will also be synced across devices, depending on which accounts you sign in with on your phone, laptop and tablet, for example.
According to the latest numbers by research firm Netmarketshare, Microsoft Edge now has 6.44% share among desktops and PCs and growing, while Firefox isn't far ahead with 8.21% share. It is still some way to reach Google Chrome though, which has cornered 68.06% share. But that could change because Microsoft has confirmed that the new Edge will roll out to all Windows 10 users in the coming weeks. This plan was confirmed in January itself, and we will now see the new Edge being made available via Windows Update—this will be for all Windows 10 machines except enterprise and education ones.