Edge is moving to a new extension API, but ad blockers will continue to work

Microsoft has released a version of the Edge browser with a new API for extensions. Microsoft Edge is based on the Chromium engine, which now includes changes known as Manifest V3. At the same time, the developers promise that ad blockers will still work.

Let me remind you that the first changes to Manifest V3 were announced at the end of 2018.

“Google engineers decided to restrict the webRequest API, which could negatively affect the functionality of content blockers and other extensions. Instead of webRequest, developers will be encouraged to use the declarativeNetRequest API”, – described the question Google developers.

Of course, Google believed these improvements would improve security and performance, and would give users more control over what extensions do and which sites they interact with.

However, extension developers quickly discovered that switching to a different API that was very different from webRequest and in many ways inferior to it would, in essence, mean the death of their products. In particular, this concerned ad blockers, antiviruses, parental control solutions and various products that increase privacy.

Then users and developers accused Google of sabotage and regarded it as a step aimed at combating ad blocking. As a result, developers of Opera, Brave and Vivaldi browsers distanced themselves from this disaster and hastily announced that they would ignore Manifest V3 updates and continue permission on use of ad blockers and other products.

Mozilla, which also implemented the WebExtensions API inside Firefox, also condemned Google’s plans and said it would make some code changes of its own to keep blockers working.

As a result, under pressure from the public, Google developers were forced to abandon some updates from the Manifest V3, and then revised their plans even more, canceling a number of changes.

Since then, changes to Manifest V3 have already started to be implemented in Chrome, and the scandal gradually faded.

And now these changes have also touched the new Microsoft Edge based on Chromium, where Manifest V3 is already present in beta and stable versions. Let me remind you that all this time the Microsoft developers did not comment on the situation around Manifest V3 and did not say what they were going to do. However, Microsoft has now said that these changes will not harm the ad blockers, while many users were afraid of it.

“We recognize the value of content blocking extensions and value the role they play in allowing users to make choices, block ads, and increase privacy by blocking cookies. We want developers to continue to offer these options to people”, — says the Microsoft Edge development team blog.

However, Chrome developers, the browser market leader, don’t seem to care. And some ad blocker developers apparently just resigned themselves to the fact that their products will not be able to reliably block ads as soon as the changes reach stable versions of Chrome.

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Daniel Zimmermann

Daniel Zimmermann has been writing on security and malware subjects for many years and has been working in the security industry for over 10 years. Daniel was educated at the Saarland University in Saarbrücken, Germany and currently lives in New York.

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