Sorry, Windows 10 early adopters: Microsoft Edge WON'T block ads at launch

No extensibility mechanism planned for initial release

Web browsers 2015

You won't have to worry about dodgy toolbars, rogue ActiveX controls, or buggy plugins when you use Microsoft Edge (née Project Spartan), Redmond's new web browser for Windows 10. But you can also forget about extending the browser in any way, at least at first.

Microsoft gave a sneak peek at its new, HTML/JavaScript-based extensibility engine for Edge at its Build developer conference in San Francisco last week. But on Wednesday we learned that this engine won't be available when the first general-availability build of Edge ships with the Windows 10 launch.

"We will enable this new model after our initial release of Microsoft Edge this summer and we look forward to sharing more details soon," the Internet Explorer Microsoft Edge team wrote in a blog post on Wednesday.

Unfortunately, that will leave Edge users with virtually no ability to adjust the browser's behavior or add new features. (We're looking at you, AdBlock.) The new browser supports neither ActiveX controls nor Browser Helper Objects (BHOs), which developers could use to extend Internet Explorer with plugins and add-on toolbars, respectively.

Many will see that as a blessing, since those two technologies were the source of more unwanted IE popups, ads, and malware than any other. But Microsoft isn't going to give us any alternative to use with Edge – at least, not with its first release.

In addition to dropping support for ActiveX and BHOs, Edge also does away with support for VBScript, DirectX filters and transitions, and a host of other obscure, IE-only extensibility interfaces, including Active Documents, binary behaviors, custom download managers, custom printing handlers, custom security managers, MIME filters, pluggable protocols, and Web Slices.

In other words, it won't just be legacy web apps that were coded for IE's quirks that won't work properly in Edge. Diehard IE users may lose other functionality that they've grown accustomed to, as well.

There are two notable exceptions. Microsoft says Edge will include built-in support for PDF files and Adobe Flash, much like Chrome does today. But don't expect any other media formats to be added to the built-in list later.

Microsoft rightly points out that a lot of these legacy extensibility methods have been left out of Edge because they have been supplanted by modern web standards. "Removed APIs do not necessarily mean removed capabilities," as the Edge team says.

Until Redmond delivers its promised new extension API, however, web power users may find that competing products like Chrome and Firefox will still have an edge – pun intended – over the new Windows 10 browser, at least initially. ®


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