Microsoft plans to build ad blocker into its Microsoft Edge browser

Who needs extensions like AdBlock Plus? In a session for Web developers today, Microsoft revealed that the next version of Microsoft Edge will include its own ad blocker.

One of Microsoft’s biggest gambles in Windows 10 is its decision to turn Internet Explorer into a legacy product, primarily for enterprise customers.

Its replacement, Microsoft Edge, has been developing slowly since its version 1.0 release with the first release of Windows 10. But judging from a session at today’s Build conference in San Francisco, the pace of development is about to pick up.

The feature most power users are awaiting is the availability of JavaScript extensions, similar to those available in Google’s Chrome browser. That feature is currently available in Insider preview releases of Windows 10, with one eagerly anticipated extension, AdBlock Plus, already confirmed as an early arrival.

But Microsoft’s roadmap for Edge suggests that you might not need that extension. 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.

TPLs were always controversial, at least in part because at the time they debuted Microsoft had recently purchase aQuantive. That move was an unsuccessful attempt to compete with Google in the online advertising business. It turned out to be a disaster and led to a nearly complete writedown of the acquisition and an exit from the business.