Web publishers are blocking ad-block users left and right, but app developers are taking a decidedly friendlier stance. First Maxthon, then Asus, and then Opera integrated ad-blocking tech into their web browsers, and now Microsoft is reportedly following suit.
ZDNet reports that Microsoft plans to add ad-blocking features to its next-gen Edge web browser.
Edit: And MS has denied the story, saying that the slide was misinterpreted. (They’re just planning to work with extensions, rather than integrate the tech,)
Released with Windows Ten, Edge is Microsoft’s replacement for Internet Explorer. It has been developing slowly since last year, and this week MS revealed the development roadmap for the Edge at Wednesday’s Build conference in San Francisco.
Look at item 4 on this slide from a session titled “Microsoft Edge: What’s Next for Microsoft’s New Browser and Web Platform.”
Extensions are number 1 on that list, with the feature listed as “targeted for next edition,” meaning the summer 2016 Anniversary Update (code-named Redstone).
But item 4 on that list, “Build ad blocking features into the browser,” is also being targeted for the next edition.
If this feature ships, it will be a much-needed replacement for an Internet Explorer feature called Tracking Protection Lists (TPLs), which added privacy protection into the browser and, as a side-effect, neatly blocked many ads.
You can click on the image to see a larger version.
If this feature ships, it’s going to improve user privacy and security, make for faster-loading web pages and and less intrusive web browsing, and generally be a boon for users.
But it won’t really have that much of an impact.
Few people use Edge on Windows 10 (it isn’t stable enough), and those that want an ad blocker already have options. All of the major web browsers which support extensions can add an ad-blocking extension, making Microsoft’s announcement little more than a stunt.
Web publishers won’t be too happy, however. Starting with Forbes, Yahoo, and the NYTimes, a growing number of publishers are blocking visitors caught using an ad-block extension. (Some, like Forbes, are having trouble telling the difference.)
Really, though,they’re not responding to any sudden increase in the use of ad blockers as they are to the increased public awareness and press coverage.
Ad blockers have been around for a decade or more, but they really only entered the public debate when Apple made the tech a core feature of iOS 9. That raised public awareness, and inspired any number of developers to start looking at the negative impact ads have on your browsing experience.
It also brought ad blockers to the attention of web publishers, some of which are responding with hostility by blocking users. It remains to be seen, however, whether the publishers will win in the long run.