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Microsoft details tracking prevention improvements in the new Edge browser

A while back, Microsoft announced that the new Chromium-based Edge browser was getting built-in tracking prevention, a feature that helped users manage how their activity on the web is tracked. It's been some time since then, and the company has detailed some of the improvements made to the experience with Edge version 79. This is the version that's currently in the Beta channel and set to be the first generally available version of the new browser.

Microsoft said its goal with the new improvements was to simultaneously block more kinds of trackers while also ensuring as much compatibility as possible with the web. Blocking too many trackers can cause some sites to break, so a certain balance is necessary. Microsoft says it figured out a way to do this by measuring the user's engagement with organizations, so tracking prevention can be less strict when the user has a clear relationship with a website or organization. This helps users achieve better compatibility with websites they care about most, while blocking more trackers on websites they don't visit as often.

In the image below, you can see how Edge 79 treats trackers compared to Edge 78. S means that trackers can't access local storage, and B means they can't access storage or resource loads.

Microsoft says that, by enabling this capability, called Org Engagement Mitigation, it actually blocked 25% more trackers on average, so the end result should actually be better for privacy-conscious users. However, if you really don't want any trackers, you'll be happy to know that this feature is only enabled for users that use the Balanced setting for tracking prevention in Edge. Users who opt into Strict mode will still block the maximum number of trackers regardless of their site and organization engagement.

For InPrivate mode, Edge 78 initially set the tracking prevention mode to Strict at all times, but that's changing now since users were seeing some sites breaking because of it. InPrivate windows will now follow the same setting as regular browsing, but Microsoft is testing a new toggle in the Canary and Dev channels to allow users to continue using Strict mode for InPrivate browsing.

For users who want to know more about which trackers Edge has blocked, there's also now a new page to view a list of blocked trackers and how many times each tracker was blocked. The list can be found in edge://settings/privacy/blockedTrackers.

Update: The post has been updated to clarify the meaning of the embedded table comparing Edge 78 and Edge 79.

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