Microsoft Edge is bringing a new feature to Windows desktops that will make multitasking easier and more productive. The feature is called sidebar, and it allows users to access various tools and apps within the same browser tab, without having to switch or open new tabs.
The sidebar can be accessed by clicking on the Show sidebar option in the Settings menu of Microsoft Edge. Users can then customize what appears on their sidebar by selecting from a range of options, such as Search, Discover, Tools, Games, Office, and Outlook. On the Microsoft 365 Roadmap, the company details the feature:
“Users of the Microsoft Edge sidebar will soon have the option to access their apps and sites directly from their Windows desktop. As an opt-in experience, users can attach the sidebar to their Windows desktop by clicking a “popout” icon near the base of the sidebar in the browser. This enables a side-by-side experience that works with any Windows app—including Microsoft Edge itself. Users enjoy streamlined access to the same set of powerful AI tools and web-based services, including Bing Chat, without launching a browser window, enhancing productivity regardless of where they are in Windows. Administrators can control the availability using the StandaloneHubsSidebarEnabled.”
The sidebar is designed to help users achieve more without losing their flow. For example, users can search for specific information within the page they are viewing, use tools like a calculator or dictionary without opening another tab, play games on the side while browsing, access their Office files and Outlook inbox or calendar, and discover more relevant content related to their web page.
The sidebar feature is already available in some versions of Microsoft Edge, and it will be rolling out to more Windows desktops very soon. Microsoft believes that the sidebar will enhance their browsing experience with AI-powered features.
Edge Business and Other Build 2023 Announcements
This has been a big week for Microsoft Edge. At the annual Build 2023 conference yesterday, Microsoft rolled out a bunch of new features for the browser:
- Edge for Business: A mode that allows companies and organizations to customize and manage their browser settings according to their needs and preferences. Edge for Business is designed to offer the best, fast, and secure browsing experience for business users, with multi-platform support and more than 80 languages available.
- Microsoft 365 Copilot: Microsoft says that it is today integrating Microsoft 365 Copilot directly into Microsoft Edge. This is a new feature that integrates AI-powered search and writing capabilities into Microsoft Edge. You can use natural language requests to ask Copilot to do things like generate a status update, summarize a document, or find relevant information.
- Workspaces leaving preview: Microsoft also revealed that its Edge Workspaces will be available to everyone in the next few months. The feature is currently available in preview. I previously reported on Edge Workspaces, which let you tailor your browser windows or make new ones for different purposes. You can set up Workspaces for various projects or tasks and add tabs, bookmarks, and files related to them.