Microsoft trials tracking prevention tools for Edge browser

Microsoft is testing tracking prevention features for Microsoft Edge, following in the footsteps of Mozilla which launched similar tools for Firefox last year.

The tools which are currently in an experimental preview build aim to give users greater control and privacy when browsing the web,

The tools are only available to Chromium-based Microsoft Edge insider testers and it can be enabled in the latest Canary release by typing edge://flags#edge-tracking-prevention in the address bar and enabling them from the dropdown menu.

"Tracking prevention is designed to protect you from being tracked by websites that you aren't accessing directly," said Microsoft. "Whenever a website is visited, trackers from other sites may save information in the browser using cookies and other storage mechanisms.

"This information may include the sites you've visited and the content you're interested in, building a digital profile which can be accessed by organizations to offer personalized content when visiting other sites," it added.

There are three custom levels of protection offered by the new tools. It's set to Balanced by default which blocks malicious trackers and some third-party trackers, meaning you'll see less relevant ads.

The only tracking scripts that will be executed in Balanced mode are those from websites such as social networks that provide third-party login or commenting services.

There is also the Basic option which blocks malicious trackers only, meaning you'll see relevant ads or Strict which blocks the majority of third-party trackers, but warns some sites might not work with the setting enabled.

When blocking a tracker, the browser will attempt to stop it accessing previously stored tracking information and from storing new tracking information too. Tracking resources that don't add meaningful functionality to a page may get blocked entirely.

Microsoft first demoed the tracking prevention tools at its Build 2019 event which also played host to the announcements of an Internet Explorer mode to be introduced to Edge so the browser can load older websites that are incompatible with modern browsers.

It also added a feature called Collections, a side panel that can be used to organise links, text and other useful information from your browsing experience by dragging and dropping into the collapsible pane.