Microsoft’s first Microsoft Browser Web Summit was held in Mountain View last week. It was a well organized and informative event. As our iMacros add-on lives in the IE, Firefox and Chrome web browsers, my specific interest was in how and when we can create extensions for new the Edge browser. Here is what I found out about the upcoming Microsoft Edge extensions (add-on) system.
Microsoft Edge Browser in a nutshell
– New hub for info: http://dev.modern.ie/
– Windows 10 ships both Edge (default browser) and IE11. IE11 is unchanged from the Win 8 version, so there is full BHO, ActiveX (etc) support. But Edge itself will support none of these legacy technologies.
– No changes to the WebBrowser control, it is still IE11 based. On a positive note, this means applications that use the IE WebBrowser control, like the iMacros Browser, should run on Win 10 without changes. Our first tests confirm this. iMacros V10.4 runs just fine on Windows 10.
– They’re thinking of making the Edge-based WebView control available to Win32 apps, but there’s no ETA. To clarify: The WebView control is not the same as the WebBrowser control. The former is for Store apps, while the latter is for Win32 applications, the “normal” Windows Desktop applications.
– Microsoft Support for IE10 and lower ends Jan 2016.
– Microsoft Edge is only available on Win10 for now – although it sounded like the Edge team would like to support other platforms in the future.
– There are “no plans” to make the browser (or its core engine) open source but Edge proudly incorporates open-source code, for example https://github.com/google/wicked-good-xpath (if I got this right, XPATH itself is implemented via CSS selectors, and this wicked thing is used for the 3% special cases that are not covered by CSS selectors)
– On a lighter note, I learned that name of the new web browser is Microsoft Edge, not just Edge. Just like it is Google Chrome and not just Chrome. Only for Mozilla Firefox it is ok to call it just Firefox.
How to create Microsoft Edge Extensions
– They made a point about how easy it was to convert the Reddit Chrome extension to Edge with “only a few changes”
– Extension support will not be in the first release of Edge, but it should appear in the DEV channel later this year.
– Extensions will be able to communicate to outside apps (think NativeMessanging in Chrome…), but they did not decide set if extensions can communicate with Win32 apps or only Store apps/Universal apps.
– Unlike Chrome, extensions require a browser restart after installation.
– Extensions will be distributed via Windows Store (how exactly = not decided yet).
– “Long-term goal” of bringing extension support to its mobile browser, but initial support will be for PC only.
– Overall, the Microsoft Edge extension model will be very close to Chrome.
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