June 28, 2019
Ryan Whitwam

Microsoft Adds Tracking Prevention to Latest Chromium Edge Build

Microsoft is still hard at work on a new version of its Edge browser. Unlike the Edge that shipped with Windows 10, this one uses Google’s Chromium code instead of Microsoft’s custom EdgeHTML engine. That should make for a more versatile browser, but developers are starting from scratch. The latest feature to appear in a pre-release build is tracking prevention. You’ll have to tinker with the settings to turn it on, but the process should be more straightforward when the browser is done. 

You can’t get far on the internet without running into some sort of tracking code. That’s how advertisers follow you across the web and target ads. It’s an unpleasant reality, but this is the natural outcome of an internet that is largely free. The Do Not Track flag exists, but that relies on websites to be good online citizens, and many of them are not. Mozilla recently added stronger blocking features, and now Microsoft is following its lead with Chromium Edge. 

In the latest Canary build, there’s a flag called “edge-tracking-prevention.” Similar to Chrome, you can access flags by going to the “edge://flags” page in the address bar. After enabling the flag, you need to restart the browser. 

Once it’s on, tracking prevention has three different levels of filtering. There’s basic, which only blocks malicious trackers. Balanced will block malicious and some third-party trackers, meaning you’ll probably start seeing more generic ads. Strict mode blocks almost all third-party trackers, ensuring no one will follow you around the web. However, this mode will also break some websites. 

Microsoft announced earlier this year that it was going to throw in the towel on its fully custom Edge browser. That’s after almost begging Windows 10 users to open Edge with nagging reminders, questionable claims about other browsers, and constantly resetting user defaults. It’s lucky, then, that Google’s Chromium code is open source. 

Microsoft has been working quickly toward a stable release of Chromium Edge. The first preview builds appeared a few months back, and there are now weekly dev channel updates and daily Canary builds. Neither one is particularly stable, but there will eventually be a beta channel with updates every six weeks that should be close to bug-free. Microsoft aims for a stable release late this year. In addition to Windows 10, Chromium Edge will support older versions of Windows and Mac OS.

Now read: