Microsoft adds tracking improvements to its new Edge browser

Laurent Giret

windows 2019 aug 20

Microsoft announced today that it has started rolling out additional tracking improvements to its new Edge browser. As you may know, the company’s new Chromium-based Edge browser comes with built-in tracking prevention, which should protect you from being tracked by websites that you didn’t visit directly. There are 3 different tracking prevention settings to choose from, and the default level (Balanced) should block third-party trackers and known malicious trackers without breaking any websites.

Today, the Microsoft Edge Dev Team explained that it has improved this “Balanced” mode to block roughly 25% more trackers on Microsoft Edge 79. This is the result of Microsoft experiment with blocking storage access for trackers in the Content category, though the company also made sure that its updated list of blocked trackers in Balanced mode wasn’t breaking more sites, including those from a company owning multiple domains.

“To determine this list, we built on-device logic that combines users’ personal site engagement scores with the observation that some organizations own multiple domains that they use to deploy functionality across the web. It’s worth mentioning that this compatibility mitigation only applies to Balanced mode; Strict mode will continue to block the largest set of trackers without any mitigations,” the Edge team explained.

Overall, tracking prevention in Balanced mode should be a bit more effective at blocking online trackers, but the MS Edge team isn’t done yet. “As with all our features, we’ll continue to monitor telemetry and user feedback channels to learn more and continually improve tracking prevention in future releases,” the team said today.

Another update worth mentioning in Microsoft Edge 79 is related to the InPrivate browsing mode: InPrivate browsing windows will no longer use the “Strict” tracking prevention mode by default, as Microsoft noted that it could lead to some confusion when websites weren’t working as expected. The InPrivate mode in Microsoft Edge 79 now respects your current tracking prevention settings, which should prevent any unexpected compatibility issues.

The Microsoft Edge team said today that these changes have started rolling out with Microsoft Edge 79, though be aware that the Dev and Canary channels, which are on a weekly and daily release cycle, respectively, are already on version 80.