Microsoft confirms no add-ons for Edge browser this year

Support for extensions pushed into 2016 for Windows 10's default browser

Microsoft on Thursday confirmed that its Edge browser, the new default for Windows 10, will not get the support for add-ons in 2015 that it once promised.

"We're committed to providing customers with a personalized Web experience, which is why bringing extensions to Microsoft Edge continues to be a high priority," a spokeswoman said in an emailed statement. "We're actively working to develop a secure extension model to make the safest and most reliable browser for our customers, and look forward to sharing more in a future Windows 10 update in 2016."

Previously, Microsoft had said that it would deliver add-on support this year, some time after the browser's July debut as part of Windows 10.

The postponement was not a total surprise: Microsoft has yet to offer even an embryonic add-on infrastructure for Edge within the ongoing series of Windows 10 builds released to its Insider beta testers. Nor has it pitched advice or tools to the developers who might be interested in writing Edge add-ons, or in adapting existing ones that now run in Google's Chrome browser, a scheme Microsoft has touted in the past.

With the arrival of Windows 10's first major update just weeks away, it would have been impossible to give Edge add-ons to the bulk of the new OS's users this year.

The lack of add-ons has made Edge a non-starter for some.

"Norton security software advises me not to make Edge my default browser because it doesn't allow extensions or toolbars and to keep using Internet Explorer instead," beefed Computerworld reader Kevin Quail last month, in an email. "I won't use Microsoft Edge until they fix it."

Others echoed Quail on Microsoft's support forum, where they bemoaned the lack of add-ons, which has made them move to a different browser.

"The exact issue is this: Without extensions, many of the important security software features we rely on do not work," added Christopher Zibart on a support discussion thread last week. "Two examples: LastPass and McAfee. Both need browser extensions, and both recommend reverting to [Internet] Explorer until Microsoft gets its act together."

While it's impossible to gauge the impact of missing add-ons on Edge's adoption, the browser has not captured a majority of the Windows 10 browser market. Data from U.S.-based metrics vendor Net Applications indicated that Edge was the primary browser for 36% of all Windows 10 users last month, while Irish analytics company StatCounter pegged it at just 16%.

With 2015 out, the next opportunity for Microsoft to deliver a more functional browser to mainstream Windows 10 users will be in the first half of 2016. Microsoft has committed to shipping Windows 10 feature upgrades two or three times each year. With an expected November roll-out of the first update, under a three-times-a-year tempo the follow-on would appear in March 2016.

That will be too late, argued someone identified as "Mysk" on a Microsoft discussion thread. "Microsoft should not have bothered releasing Edge outside of Insider Preview access until it at least supported extensions," wrote Mysk last Friday. "Clearly they still don't 'get it' when it comes to Web browsers. The first impression has already been made and Edge has already been dismissed by the masses. If they expect people to flock to the browser if/when they finally dig it out of the last century, then they're sorely mistaken."

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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