How Microsoft Edge Addresses User Privacy
28th of July, 2015
On July 29th, Microsoft will unroll their long awaited Windows 10 operating system. Within their new OS (Operating System) will be Microsoft’s new browser, Edge. In a market heavily dominated by Google’s Chrome and Mozilla’s Firefox browsers, Edge tries to carve out a slice of the market that it’s predecessor, Internet Explorer could not. Naturally with user privacy in mind, we took a look at the Edge browser to see how privacy is addressed.
Chrome and Firefox Applications for Edge
We start off quickly with perhaps the biggest feature Microsoft Edge has to offer. The new browser will support both Firefox and Chrome extensions. While the ability will most likely not be available until this fall, the opportunity the extension gives is massive. There are a host of privacy extensions available in both Firefox Add-ons and the Chrome Web Store that when used in combination can provide users with immeasurable privacy protection.
Next, the Edge browser will come with a build-in reading mode. While reading mode isn’t a new feature to browsers, it is a quality feature to bring along on Edge. The reading mode allows users to easily read website content they want while blocking out all other content on a web page. This feature is great for blocking out unwanted information or ads that you don’t wish to see while you are on a webpage.
An article by PC World about the Edge browser stated that websites must load as they are originally laid out before Reading Mode can be used. It would be more efficient to bypass this step but we also understand that ads are an important part of a website’s revenue.
Updating Privacy Statements
Though it is not specific to Edge, Microsoft will be revamping their Privacy Statement and Terms of Services for users. The main goal is to provide consumers with statements that use simpler language. Simple statements can encourage greater confidence from consumers when selecting products as they don’t feel language is being used to trick them. In our previous article about Internet browsers and their privacy policies, we were able to understand the benefits of using simple privacy statements. Microsoft’s Terms of Service and Privacy Statement are scheduled to be updated on August 1st.
More informations about Microsoft’s improved statements is available here.
Tracking Protection Gone
A feature from Internet Explorer that many are sad to not see in Edge is the use of tracking protection and tracking protection lists. This old feature was a powerful tool against third-party trackers that follow your activity across the web. With tracking protection you can create lists to determine which third party sites can track you and receive information about you. Premade lists are available for download online and you can learn more from Microsoft about tracking protection here.
Not including tracking protection in the Edge browser has not gone unnoticed by followers of the browser. In fact, there is a place on Microsoft’s User Voice page where many have been voting to allow the Edge browser to support tracking protection lists. If you wish to join the movement and cast a vote, the link to the voting page is available here.
There are, of course many other factors outside of privacy to consider when selecting a browser. For instance, the security features of your browser will go hand-in-hand with privacy and preventing unwanted computer access. Microsoft outlines in detail, the security features of Edge which you can read through here. For a more rounded view of the Edge Browser and Windows 10 as a whole, check out TechRadar’s hands on review of Windows 10. The link for the Edge browser section is located here.
All together, Microsoft has created legitimate cause for excitement with the unveiling of Edge. I am however, unsure about the success Edge will see. Tony Bradley’s Forbes article phrases it well when he says that many people are reluctant to change and that many Internet Explorer users like holding onto their outdated tools. The former, I feel is especially true considering Microsoft’s browser is often the tool discarded as users move to Chrome or Firefox. Although, I am skeptical as to whether Microsoft has done enough to take users away from the other browser giants, only time will tell how successful Microsoft’s new Edge browser will be.
About Ryan Jeethan
Ryan is a graduate of the University of Waterloo’s Arts & Business program focusing on UW’s unique Speech Communication program.