Microsoft Edge Getting Enterprise-Grade Improvements
Microsoft's roadmap for its Chromium-based Edge browser includes feature improvements aimed at enterprises and business users.
An Edge browser preview with enterprise features is now available via Microsoft's Dev Channel, which delivers updates to the Edge browser on a weekly basis. This latest July release includes "offline installers and ADMX files," which can be used to set policy configurations on Windows systems.
A more polished release venue would be the Beta Channel, where updates arrive every six weeks, but the Edge browser isn't available yet from that source. Microsoft also has an early Canary Channel, where updates arrive daily. A Stable Channel for Edge releases is yet to come.
Essentially, the new Edge browser enterprise features are at the preview level and can be tested. Microsoft claims it's possible to run the Chromium-based Edge preview alongside the older Edge browser that comes with Windows 10 without any conflicts. For a recent walkthrough, see Brien Posey's recent Redmond article.
The new enterprise features in Edge that are currently available from the Canary and Dev channels include:
- Internet Explorer Mode, an important tool for organizations still dependent on Internet Explorer 11. It'll switch users to IE 11 via a tab in Edge. The feature, which adds support for legacy technologies like ActiveX and Silverlight, is explained in this Microsoft video.
- Offline installers for Edge. They'll be available for all supported Windows and macOS platforms.
- Single sign-on access using the Azure Active Directory service, including support for multiple user profiles, such as the ability to set up home and work accounts for the same browser.
- Group Policy support, with "over 180" settings for browser deployment and management.
- Conditional Access and Application Guard support on Windows 10 systems.
- "Enterprise-grade integrated PDF support."
- Developer tools support, including WebView support, a way of displaying Web page content within an application.
- Language support for 10 languages.
Microsoft also is rolling out other enterprise features, starting as early as Wednesday, although they could take "several weeks" to arrive. Those features include:
- Integrated search from Edge's address bar.
- Data sync across devices using "compliant clouds."
- An "Enterprise new tab page," which provides fast access to "Office 365 docs and sites." When users open a new tab, they'll see the new tab page, which provides access to the "corporate web apps, documents, and sites they use most, as well as recommended content from Office 365."
Microsoft is promising that it'll add deployment and configuration support for the Edge browser using System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) and Microsoft Intune, plus "third-party" tools, in a future browser release. Information Protection on Windows 10 systems also will arrive in a future Edge update. PDFs will get support for digital signatures and Microsoft Information Protection. Language support in Edge will grow to 110 languages. Lastly, Microsoft plans to add its Microsoft Defender SmartScreen Web site reputation security technology to Edge at some point, which aims to ward off phishing attempts and malware.
Last month, Microsoft also released "an experimental preview" of tracking protection in Edge. Tracking protection is disabled by default in the preview and is just available for Microsoft Edge Insider program participants on the Canary Channel who enable the "experimental flag" in the browser. Tracking protection is designed to block "third-party" trackers and "known malicious trackers" from viewing a user's browsing behavior information.
The Chromium Switch
Microsoft had announced plans to proceed with using the open-source Chromium engine, fostered by Google, in its Edge browser back in December. The move aims to simplify matters for Web site developers, add Web app compatibility and improve the browsing experience for end users.
The new Edge browser for desktops is a cross-platform project for Microsoft. It has support for Windows 10 and macOS operating systems, including newly added support for the older Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 desktops.
Microsoft also makes Edge apps for the Android and iOS mobile operating systems. Those apps already use aspects of the Chromium platform, Microsoft previously explained.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.