When Microsoft announced they were replacing Internet Explorer with Microsoft Edge, they heard loud and clear from the community, that if you want to go head to head with Chrome on a modern browser, you have to have an extensions platform. Despite Windows 10 shipping mid-last year, the first build of Edge that supports extensions has only just arrived. Currently the extensions are only available to Windows Insiders on the Fast ring, that would have received Windows 10 Build 14291 in the last few days.
Microsoft Edge launches into an announcement screen (shown above) when you first launch Edge after the update. The ‘Preview extensions now’ link takes you to a page that lists the currently available extensions. Currently there are just three – Microsoft Translator, Reddit Enhancement Suite and Mouse Gestures, with 2/3 of these from Microsoft.
Right now the extension implementation is very much in preview, which means we don’t even get a click to install experience. When compared to Chrome’s well established and vast Extension store that is amazingly simple to use, Edge has a long way to go. Right now you click download and an .exe file downloads, you click run and the installer runs (this seems bad already from a security aspect), which then extracts the extension package creating a new folder in your Downloads folder for each extension. You them have to manually add the extension to Edge by going to the menu in the top right, clicking a new menu item ‘Extensions’ and click the ‘Load Extension’ button. From here you browser to the extension folder that was extracted from the installer, and it then appears in Edge.
Like I said, Edge extensions is definitely in preview right now. This will inevitably be resolved into a one-click installer, however it does seem strange to launch the highly anticipated feature like this.
If you’re a developer and want to build an extension for Microsoft Edge, then you should know this from the FAQ section. Under the question ‘How do I submit my extension to be hosted on this website?’ Microsoft states that,
The extensions on this page represent the work of a small group of extension authors. This webpage is only temporary and in the future users will be able to download extensions from the Windows Store.
There’s now at least one other 3rd party extension – Tweeten which as you could probably guess from the name is a Twitter/TweetDeck client. This Edge extension isn’t published through the official Microsoft page, but hosted on their own site – http://tweeten.xyz/edge. To work within the regular browser security frameworks, this is provided as a .zip file, rather than a .exe. Once extracted, the installation process is essentially the same.
Once you have the Extension installed, just visit https://tweetdeck.twitter.com/ and you’ll notice some changes. Right now I’m seeing some scrollbars on the left hand navigation column.