Microsoft details changes coming to Edge browser

Microsoft is plowing ahead with its struggling browser.

microsoft edge
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Microsoft has detailed some of the changes coming to its Edge browser in the Windows 10 Creators Update, which is expected to arrive in April. People with access to the Windows Insider Preview builds have detailed these changes in reports, but this puts everything together in one neat package. There's even a video showing off the new features.

Tab management is getting quite a makeover. For starters there's an arrow that, when clicked, will show a preview of all the tabs that you have open at the top of the browser. If you have used the Vivaldi browser, this feature will be very familiar because it's almost identical. On the left will be an icon to hide the tabs.

After hiding tabs, they are grouped into various collections, and you can bring them back days later. For example, you can set aside a group of tabs for one day, and a few days later reload all five tabs. It reminds me a little of the Session Manager tab management program in Firefox.

Microsoft tabs Andy Patrizio

Microsoft said its research says Windows users spend more than 50% of their time on the web (only 50%?) but are often derailed by the arduous task of having to sift through countless search results, sites and the sheer volume of unfamiliar content online.

"Most of us endeavor to be masters of multi-tasking, but not all the technology we use is built to support our complex day-to-day digital habits," wrote Drew DeBruyne, general manager of Microsoft Edge, in a blog post. "Thus, people often have many tabs open at any given time -- resulting in stress about losing open tabs, not being able to pick up where they left off, or simply losing focus due to information overload."

Now if only Edge could get vertical tabs right, like Firefox.

Edge is also embracing 3D with support for WebVR, a JavaScript API that provides access to Virtual Reality devices like Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and presumably HoloLens in your browser. Microsoft first talked about it in September. When it's released, you should be able to view virtual reality content via the Edge browser.

Microsoft will start selling e-books through the Windows Store once the Creators Update is released, and the Edge browser will be the reader app. The browser will offer custom views, fonts and layouts. Your PC or mobile device can even read the book to you.

Microsoft tabs Andy Patrizio

Late last year Microsoft introduced a preview of the Payment Request API for Microsoft Edge, which will work with Microsoft Wallet on Windows 10 PCs for easier online shopping. Wallet allows for safe storage of payment information, like a credit card, so someone making a purchase doesn't have to go through the usual checkout ritual of filling out personal and credit information, which can span multiple page forms. (The question is who is using it, because so far I've seen no signs of this option for purchases.)

Finally, there's the usual claim that the browser is "faster, safer and more efficient than ever." Time will tell if this helps push Edge beyond its 5.4% share.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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