Just last week, Microsoft finally unveiled the first set of browser extensions for its new Microsoft Edge browser, albeit in very limited number and reach. Available only to Microsoft Insiders, the feature is pretty raw and crude, especially when it comes to installing those extensions. That, however, might be a good thing, at least for now, as it has allowed the first third-party Edge Extension to come to light, offering a popular Turn Off the Lights function to become available on Microsoft Edge as well.
Turn Off the Lights practically tries to deliver a somewhat cinematic experience when viewing videos on a web page without having to take the video full screen. It does so by dimming the rest of the web page’s contents, making the active playing video pop out visually. Available on both Chrome and Firefox, Turn Off the Lights is perhaps the first extension to land on Microsoft Edge outside Microsoft’s first three.
For now, installing that extension is pretty much similar to the official ones. You have to download the package from GitHub, extract it to a folder, and point Edge to that folder. Options are slim at the moment, which isn’t surprising considering how limited the current Extensions APIs are. In the future, extensions will be downloaded from the Windows Store, which will naturally involve some certification and QA process. For now, the rather unguarded, and perhaps insecure, method leaves the door open for experimentation.
The success of Microsoft Edge’s extensions, and consequently the browser itself, will depend on how many extensions will be available and how easy it will be to get them. Microsoft once promised, or at least let on, that Chrome’s extensions would be supported. Jabob Rossi from the Edge engineering team confirmed on Twitter that such was still the plan and a porting tool is still being developed. That said, he does caution that not all APIs are supported, so don’t expect feature parity.
He also revealed that the first set of extensions that will be fully available from the Store, by the time extensions launch publicly, will be limited to “top scenarios”, opening up more in the future. Microsoft perhaps isn’t expecting or preparing much from its browser extensions, which could be fatal for Edge.