Microsoft is working on a new feature for its Edge browser, which will allow users to open Microsoft Office files directly in the browser, instead of downloading them. The feature was spotted by Reddit user Leopeva64-2 in Edge Canary, but even if you have the latest version, you may not see it just yet, so it looks like it's being enabled gradually for users. Our test devices don't seem to have the feature just yet.
If you're one of the chosen ones, you can enable the feature in the download settings page of the browser, where you'd usually choose your default download folder and the like. The option is called "Quickly view Office files on the web using Office Viewer", and what it does is, instead of downloading a file to your PC, it will send it to Microsoft and have it open in the corresponding Office web app, though in a sort of view-only mode.
The feature could have a couple of uses, such as extra protection if you're worried about the file being infected with malware. It could also be useful if you just want to quickly look at a document and don't need to save it to your PC, or if you're using a PC that doesn't have Office installed for whatever reason. Plus, you can save files to your OneDrive directly from the Office Viewer, should you want to keep them for later.
Another change spotted by the Reddit user in the latest Edge Canary build is the ability to sort the items in a collection by the date when they were most recently used. It's a small improvement, but it could make it easier to get back to a recent task.
Seeing as the new Office Viewer toggle isn't even available for all Edge Canary users just yet, it may be some time before it becomes available for everyone else. In any case, it's interesting to see Microsoft continually expanding the feature set of its browser to help it stand out from its many competitors.