What you need to know
- Microsoft announced several new features for its Edge browser at Build 2023.
- The new Microsoft Edge for Business will allow people to keep personal and professional browsing separate without needing to install a second browser.
- Microsoft 365 Copilot, which gathers together data from several services to help perform tasks, will be integrated with Edge.
The Microsoft Edge web browser got quite a bit of love today at Build 2023. Microsoft announced several tools for developers to improve the browsing experience within Edge, and the tech giant announced Microsoft Edge for Business. The business version of Edge makes it easy to keep personal and professional browsing separate without having to install a second browser.
Microsoft announced a tremendous number of features and improvements for Edge. I'm going to focus on the features that affect end-users the most, but here's Microsoft's list of everything that's new:
- Innovations for Business
- Changing how we browse with AI advancements
- Edge gets a new look and feel
- A dedicated work experience for a hybrid world
- Workspaces for shared tabs on a project
- Simplified Edge management in the Microsoft 365 admin center
- Edge on mobile improved for businesses
- Innovations for Developers
- Increase the reach of your PWAs with sidebar
- DevTools get new Focus Mode and JSON Viewer
- WebView2 comes to HoloLens 2 & Xbox
- Quick Authentication library facilitates sign-in
- Digital goods API support for in-app purchases
Microsoft Edge gets a new look
The first thing many will notice is that Microsoft Edge has a new look. Many of the browser's design elements have been changed to align with Windows 11, such as rounded corners, translucent backgrounds, and fluid animations. Microsoft also moved the profile icon to the upper-left corner of Edge.
A new container system makes it easier to view multiple items at once. Microsoft has been working on features such as the Sidebar and Split view for quite some time, and it appears the company is eager to optimize Edge for multitasking. Many of the changes to Edge let you organize your browsing and stay on task without having to jump between app windows.
Microsoft 365 Copilot
Microsoft has integrated several AI tools into Edge over the last few months, such as Bing Chat and Bing Image Creator. The company announced another significant step in AI browsing today at Build 2023. Microsoft 365 Copilot, now in private preview, will be integrated with Edge. Microsoft 365 Copilot brings together several sources of information and uses artificial intelligence to help you perform tasks.
Large language models allow you to communicate with Microsoft 365 Copilot with natural language. The tool connects to Microsoft 365 apps and data from Microsoft Graph, such as emails, chats, and your calendar, to help you. Microsoft shared an example of asking, "Tell my team how we updated the product strategy today," and Microsoft 365 Copilot creating a status update using information from that day's meetings, emails, and chat threads.
Integrating with Edge extends the functionality of Microsoft 365 Copilot as well, as it can scan the page you're on for context.
Microsoft 365 Copilot is also gaining support for plugins in Edge. We covered plugins for Microsoft 365 Copilot more in-depth in a separate post. The long-in-short is that plugins allow people to interact with web apps using natural language. Bing Chat and Microsoft 365 Copilot can then give answers and perform actions through connected services.
Microsoft Edge for Business
A new experience called Microsoft Edge for Business will allow workers to keep their personal and professional browsing separate without having to download a second browser.
In many workspaces, IT admins and security experts want to be able to control which apps are on PCs and what can be downloaded onto a PC. This can result in a PC only having a single browser to maintain admin control or multiple browsers, which can strain admins. Edge for Business separates work and personal browsing without requiring a second browser, all while supporting enterprise controls.
The standard Edge and Edge for Business store their caches and files apart from each other. Work sites automatically open in Edge for Business, while personal sites will open in Edge automatically. Users can specify which sites are for work or personal use as well.
Microsoft explained that its approach "can reduce the surface area for cyberattacks" because it streamlines the browsing experience to a single app.
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> Microsoft 365 Copilot now works with plugins, making it much more powerful
Edge for Business is in preview starting today on managed devices. It will make its way to unmanaged devices in the coming months.
Microsoft announced Edge for Business on iOS and Android as well. The browser can be configured to access corporate resources and supports per-account VPN. Edge for Business on mobile also works with Shared Device Mode, designed for shift workers who share a device.
Edge Workspaces for everyone
Microsoft Edge Workspaces allow people to view a shared project that includes websites and files through a set of browser tabs. The feature is moving out of preview over the coming months and rolling out to everyone. Workspaces support deleting or adding tabs to keep things organized as a project evolves.
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Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at email@example.com.