Microsoft Edge browser gets extensions and Adblock Plus support

Plus, a new survey reveals why people use ad blockers—and it's exactly what you'd expect

Microsoft Edge browser gets extensions and Adblock Plus support
Credit: Microsoft

It's quite a day for Microsoft Edge and the few people who use it. Thanks to the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, Edge will finally gain support for extensions. And by supporting extensions, one of the first out of the gate is Adblock Plus, that bane of advertisers everywhere.

Edge can now use extensions for both Chrome and Firefox. To get extensions, open Edge and click on the menu icon, the three horizontal dots in the upper-right corner. Next, select Extensions from the drop-down menu. It's near the bottom. This will open a new window with extensions you already have installed and a link labeled "Get Extensions from the Store."

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The selection is modest, but it should grow quickly. Adblock Plus was one of the first, and why not since it's so popular. The folks at Adblock Plus noted in a blog post that the program is still in an early stage and has some issues and limitations.

Most notably it is limited in the amount of space to store your filter subscriptions, so some users who are very aggressive in filtering ads might find that adding more than one or two subscriptions will not work. There are a few other issues, so it is labeled a beta product.

While Windows 10 has been a success, working its way onto 350 million devices in the first year of launch, it hasn't given Edge much for coattails. Monthly data from Net Applications shows Edge maintained its market share from June 2016, gaining no users, but without losing any either.

Google Chrome remains the number one browser in the desktop world with a share of 50.95 percent, followed by Internet Explorer with 29.60 percent, Firefox at 8.12 percent and falling, and Edge at 5.09 percent, the same share it had in June. For whatever reason, Microsoft just can't get any traction with Edge, and I suspect it's due to entrenched habits. Once people pick a browser, they are reluctant to move. 

The types of ads people want to block

As for ad blocking, 45 million people have installed one form or another on their desktops, according to eMarketer, and the number will reach 63 million by the end of the year and 77 million in 2017. That may sound bad, but there is good news for advertisers, believe it or not.

A new report from Omnicom Media Group (via MediaPost) found many people who use ad blockers don’t dislike all advertising but rather a specific format: popups. Some 44 percent of those polled associate ad blocking mostly with blocking pop-up advertising. Another 40 percent do not want to be "bombarded" with ads, and 30 percent want to block pre-roll ads that prevent access to content. 

There is some bad news for the advertising firms. Seven in 10 people surveyed by OMG installed an ad blocker immediately after hearing about it, 65 percent say they saw an improved user experience after using ad blockers, and 70 percent would recommend them to friends and family. 

The study queried 1,000 people online, including a sub-sample of 250 ad block users in March and May 2016.

I've said this for a while now. The problem isn't ads in general, and I don't object to them, since they pay my salary. The problem is the assault you get hit with. Pop-up blockers were built into browsers years ago, long before ad blocker extensions, because people hated the ads. And if there is one thing I truly despise it's auto-starting videos embedded in Web pages.

Publishers have handled the ad blocking phenomenon in different ways. Some merely ask you to white list them, like Computerworld, but eventually let you click on to the content. Others, like Forbes, shut you out completely, and that strategy hasn’t worked out so well. Maybe they should listen to the people surveyed who say just back off a bit.

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