Microsoft Sharpens Edge Browser in Windows 10 Creators Update

Microsoft's Edge browser will gain new tab management features and WebVR support when the Windows 10Creators Update is released his spring.

Edge Browser Update 2

Drowning in browser tabs? Microsoft wants to help multitaskers get better organized in the upcoming Windows 10 Creators Update.

It's not uncommon for web users to keep multiple browser tabs open while researching topics, comparison shopping or simply keeping tabs on their favorite sites. When the highly-anticipated update arrives in the spring, it will include an upgraded version of the built-in web browser, Microsoft Edge, featuring new options aimed at helping users organize their browser tabs.

Drew DeBruyne, general manager of Microsoft Edge, wrote in a blog post that the browser's new tab management features will enable users to "preview visual thumbnails of all their open tabs at a glance, and set a group of tabs aside in an instant to get a fresh start, removing any distractions and providing a clean browser feel, while remaining confident that they can pick up right where they left off."

As seen in this screenshot, tab groupings resemble thumbnail galleries, complete with site labels and the option to restore tabs that users have set aside. "We want to enable users to quickly jump from one task to another without losing focus, and help them stay immersed in the content that matters to them at that moment," continued DeBruyne.

Reflecting the 3D and virtual reality (VR) capabilities Microsoft is baking into the Creators Update, Edge will also support web-based VR experiences, said DeBruyne. The browser will feature support for the WebVR API (application programming interface), allowing for immersive, web-delivered experiences using VR headsets.

Edge will also allow for faster online shopping. Using the Payment Request API for Microsoft Edge, participating sites can offer a quick checkout option that uses payment data stored in users' Microsoft Wallets.

Also coming to Edge is e-book support, allowing users to read EPUB-formatted books directly in the browser. Microsoft will also be adding a books category to the Windows Store, joining apps, games, music, movies and TV. Microsoft is also working to grow the Edge Extensions ecosystem, said DeBruyne.

When the browser launched alongside the Windows 10 operating system in 2015, it shipped without support for add-ons, plugins or "extensions," as the company calls them. Microsoft finally addressed the glaring omission last year by making extensions available in the Windows Store, a curated approach that the company claims helps enhance security and simplifies the installation process.

Currently, the Windows Store is home to just over 20 extensions for Microsoft Edge, including Amazon Assistant, Evernote Web Clipper and Reddit Enhancement Suite.

Time will tell if these features will help drive Edge usage.

According to the latest data compiled by Net Applications, a web analytics firm, Microsoft Edge clings to just 4.5 percent of the desktop browser market, narrowly beating one of its predecessors, Internet Explorer 9 (4.3 percent).

Internet Explorer, which is also available for Windows 10 for the sake of maintaining compatibility with legacy enterprise web applications, beats Edge with 10.5 percent. Google's Chrome browser (version 55) leads with a 37-percent share of the market.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of...