One of the advantages of Microsoft basing its new Edge browser on Chromium is having access to the same browser platform that Chrome extensions use. The disadvantage is that it uses the same browser platform that Chrome extensions use. For better or worse, this more open platform has allowed some less conscientious Chrome extensions and add-ons to slip through the cracks. Microsoft is in danger of repeating the same mistakes if doesn’t keep an eye out for wayward extensions, like a bunch that allowed users to download illegal copies of popular games.
The browser extensions really had nothing to do with browsers themselves. The clearly named popular Super Mario titles, Pac-Man, or even Minecraft enticing users with the prospect of playing these games inside the Edge browser for free. Few would probably conclude that these are legitimate copies of the games but, then again, some would probably try to get away with what they can anyway.
The Verge reports that some of these add-ons have been around since October, suggesting they got through any form of scrutiny from Microsoft. What makes it strange is one claim that Microsoft Edge’s own development Twitter account even promoted the extensions, despite their obvious legally questionable nature. That said, the tweets have been deleted already, erasing evidence of such a blunder.
Regardless of whether Microsoft itself promoted these pirated games, the fact that they were up on the Edge add-ons catalog should already raise red flags inside Microsoft. Chrome’s Web Store has been notorious for hosting some malware-bearing extension more times than it should. Google has been cracking down on these but, like on Google Play Store, the system is less than perfect.
That doesn’t mean that Microsoft should lock down its Edge extensions and there will most likely be some cross-contamination with Chrome extensions here and there. It does, however, have the opportunity to do better in safeguarding its users before it’s too late.