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on the edge

This browser feature could help Microsoft dispel the bad memories of Internet Explorer

Microsoft Edge has been slow to replace Internet Explorer and compete against other browsers, but that could change.

MICROSOFT HAS BEEN trying to phase out Internet Explorer with the release of Edge, a lightweight browser designed to replace it entirely.

At the moment, it doesn’t have the same capabilities as Chrome or Firefox and while plugins are currently on the way - with it expected to arrive in time for its Anniversary update for the summer – another feature could help tempt Internet Explorer and other browsers to Edge: ad-blocking.

In slides seen by ZNet, the next version of Edge was expected to include ad-blocking built in, according to a session at Build, Microsoft’s developer conference. However, Microsoft said the slide was misleading saying it was in reference to the work it’s doing in bringing plugins to the browser like AdBlock.

The slide included other entries like plugins and integrating Bing translator into the browser. These are expected to be included with the next version which will arrive in the summer.

Ad-blocking has become the latest feature to be added by browsers both on mobile and on the web. Opera recently added it to its desktop version while Apple added it to the mobile version of Safari.

Rise of the bots

Microsoft’s keynote talk for its conference covered a number of areas specifically aimed towards developers. Some of the consumer-facing features that will be introduced include biometric sign in for browsers and native apps, allowing users to sign in to accounts using their fingerprint, iris or face.

Those updates will be part of its Anniversary update which will be available to all Windows 10 users, where there are now 270 million people using it since it launched eight months ago.

Microsoft Build Conference A medical student showing off Hololens, its augmented reality headset. The demo involved them looking at a lifesize model of the human body. AP Photos / Eric Risberg AP Photos / Eric Risberg / Eric Risberg

The major focus was on chatbots, with Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella saying the main aim was to create a future where it’s “not going to be man versus machine… [but] man with machine”. The mobile version of Skype now comes with some experimental bots like ones that find images and music for you to send on.

MSFT gif What the Hololens wearers could see during the demo. Microsoft Microsoft

Part of that included the creation of bots designed to respond to natural language. Some of the examples provided were one bot that can give captions to photos and another that can order pizza, but such creations weren’t without their problems.

Last week, it launched a bot called Tay which was taken down - before bringing it back and quickly taking it down again this week – for repeating racist and offensive statements. Nadella acknowledged that Tay “wasn’t up to these marks” and it was “back to the drawing board” for it.

The company sees chatbots falling into three main categories: situations where you talk to a person and a chatbot helps out, bots that interact with you directly to do stuff and personal assistants like Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana.

Read: The week has gone from bad to worse for Instagram >

Read: An engineer managed to get dodgy USB cables banned on Amazon >

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