New Microsoft Edge may change User Agent automatically - gHacks Tech News

New Microsoft Edge may change User Agent automatically

Microsoft's upcoming Chromium-based web browser Microsoft Edge may change the user agent automatically based on the visited site.

The new Microsoft Edge web browser is based on Chromium, the same core that Google Chrome uses. It may identify as Chromium because of that and that should give it the same level of compatibility with websites and applications as Google Chrome.

Microsoft Edge may also identify as Microsoft Edge instead, however on select sites. One of the main motivations for doing so is Edge's improved support for media streaming sites like Netflix.

Whereas Chrome users may play Netflix streams in a quality of up to 1080p (with some trickery offered by an extension, the default is 720p), Microsoft Edge classic users may enjoy streams in a quality up to 4K.

That's a big difference and one of the core advantages of Microsoft Edge. The new Chromium-based Edge offers the same advantage, as it includes Microsoft's own DRM solution for commercial media streams and Google's Widevine solution.

microsoft edge user agent override

Bleeping Computer reports that the new Chromium-based Edge browser downloads a JSON file regularly from config.edge.skype.com (what is with that URL, Microsoft?) which matches certain domains to certain user agents.

When an Edge user connects to any of the sites mentioned in the configuration file, e.g. netflix.com or hbonow.com, Microsoft Edge applies the user agent that the JSON file assigned to the site. In the case of streaming media sites, it is identifying itself as the classic Edge browser:

Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/64.0.3282.140 Safari/537.36 Edge/18.17763

For Facebook and Messenger, it identifies as Google Chrome specifically:

Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/75.0.3763.0 Safari/537.36

and for most sites, using the default user agent:

Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/75.0.3763.0 Safari/537.36 Edg/75.0.131.0

The JSON file has a section that overrides exposure of DRM plugins. Edge may restrict exposure to one of the supported DRM plugins on select sites. It does so for CBS, Shudder, TVnow, Bitmovin and Sling currently, and exposes only Google's Widevine to these sites.

Why is that done?

Microsoft has not published any article or information on Edge's user agent changing capabilities. The most likely explanations are compatibility and functionality. Microsoft picks the classic Edge browser to unlock high quality streams on certain media streaming sites, Google Chrome when the user agent offers advantages, and the default user agent of the browser on the majority of sites out there.

User Agent switching is another advantage that Microsoft Edge has over Google Chrome.

Now You: Have you tried the new Edge? Did you like it?

Summary
New Microsoft Edge may change User Agent automatically
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New Microsoft Edge may change User Agent automatically
Description
Microsoft's upcoming Chromium-based web browser Microsoft Edge may change the user agent automatically based on the visited site.
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Ghacks Technology News
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Comments

  1. Yuliya said on April 21, 2019 at 10:22 am
    Reply

    What happened to the sane user agents?
    Opera/9.80 (Windows NT 6.1; Win64; x64) Presto/2.12.388 Version/12.18

    Mozilla; like Gecko; AppleWebKit; Chrome; Edge; Safari… WHAT IS YOUR BROWSER???

    1. ShintoPlasm said on April 22, 2019 at 6:16 am
      Reply

      It’s the last bit of the user agent string nowadays, isn’t it?

      1. Yuliya said on April 22, 2019 at 7:38 am
        Reply

        Well, Chromium’s UA is:
        Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/73.0.3683.103 Safari/537.36
        That is for Chromium x64 running on Windows 7.

    2. ilev said on April 22, 2019 at 9:06 am
      Reply

      ChroEdge will only imitate relevant browsers : Chrome, Safari, Firefox. All other browsers are irrelevant.

    3. John Fenderson said on April 22, 2019 at 8:34 pm
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      @Yuliya: “What happened to the sane user agents?”

      Poorly designed websites happened, mostly. Years ago, websites start using the UA string in order to determine what the abilities of the browsers are. This is 100% the wrong way to do it (the right way is to actively test for the abilities you’re interested in).

      That sites started doing this meant that UA strings had to start indicating things that they were never intended to indicate, resulting in the mess that they are now.

      And many websites are STILL using UA strings to try to guess what abilities the browser has. It’s a kind of madness brought about by incompetence.

  2. Censor this said on April 21, 2019 at 11:15 am
    Reply

    Edgium is irrelevant as was Edge. Since I’ve found Brave browser I left Firefox.

    1. zakius said on April 21, 2019 at 9:51 pm
      Reply

      brave is equally irrelevant as quantumfox and edge

    2. Allwynd said on April 21, 2019 at 10:01 pm
      Reply

      Brave can’t play DRM content on sites like Spotify, which makes many websites not work properly on it, which in turn is bad. The built-in adblocking and tracking blocking is insufficient enough and requires the installation of extensions like uBlock Origin, Privacy Badger and Popup Blocker Strict, which only goes to show how much this browser lacks.

      The mobile Brave’s adblocking and trackblocking causes many websites to break and load incorrectly. There was an issue in the summer of 2018, where Wikia websites would not load properly on Brave mobile because of that same thing.

      At the end of the day, Brave is mostly talk and no action.

      Recently Kiwi Browser on Android, another Chromium browser enabled extension support, which allows one to install real means to block tracking, ads and rogue popups and currently Kiwi on Android and Chromium-Edge on PC are the best browsers.

      On the other hand I agree with you that Edge is irrelevant, but Chromium-Edge is actually better than Chrome, which is already better than Brave, which makes Chromium-Edge better than Brave as well. Chromium-Edge is like twice faster than Chrome, which tends to clog down after a few day of usage and requires constant maintenane, cleaning cahce and SQL database just to keep running (same goes for Firefox, which bogs down even quicker).

      1. AnorKnee Merce said on April 22, 2019 at 5:57 am
        Reply

        @ Allwynd

        My Firefox 60esr is not bogged down at all.
        ……. Of course, as an ordinary home-user, I do not keep more than 5 tabs open at the same time, do not keep the browser running 24/7 and do not use SQL database.

      2. Allwynd said on April 22, 2019 at 9:08 am
        Reply

        @AnorKnee Merce

        Every time you make your Firefox load websites, the SQL database is accessed and in turn modified.

      3. AnorKnee Merce said on April 22, 2019 at 3:37 pm
        Reply

        @ Allwynd

        I think you are referring to the IndexedDB folder(which uses the SQL database file format) in which websites may store their data persistently, eg for tracking or ID’ing of visitors. On my Firefox 60esr, I think the IndexedDB folder has been renamed to “idb”.

        I believe if the user set Tracking Protection to On, websites cannot store their data in this folder and if the user set Firefox to clear all data on exit or manually clear all data, all stored offline website data in this folder are also cleared. This is exactly what I do with my Preference settings in FF 60esr = it is not bogged down.

        From Firefox 57 onward, all stored data in the IndexedDB or idb folder can be cleared or deleted. Previously, they could not be deleted/cleared. ….

      4. Anonymous said on May 10, 2019 at 1:42 pm
        Reply

        Firefox really comed back.
        it is really far greater than before.
        Even it is now far better than its first quantom release (57).
        I have several firefox instances (downloaded from portableapps.com) and disabled heavy APIs like web storage and … With the WebAPI Manager addon.
        It is really good in performance.
        Also i have a dev edition of it that is good in performance without any tweaks and addons. (Seems that ver 58 and 59 are really greater than 66 in performance)

        Although it has some problems:
        1. You should completely block all facebook domains with ublock origin (filter lists for this are available on web) and use chrome for facebook.
        Because some month ago i opened facebook and logined in it (with multi account containers) and my firefox crashed and my cpu getted hot and this didn’t solved till i restarted (odd thing was even after restart the problem was rather persistent and i turned off laptop and about 15 min later openned it and problem solved.

        Also it is good to use chrome for outlook because of rather same reason but not this much odd :/

        But after i disabled all this heavy APIs, i don’t face much problema using firefox and like it.
        It is far better than old days in performance.

        And i think now is good time to return to using it again.

      5. Anonymous said on May 10, 2019 at 1:48 pm
        Reply

        Need to mention two things:
        1. WebAPI Manager addon won’t work with first party isolation enabled.
        2. You can check log blocked APIs in its settings so you can find out what thing is problem with website breakage.
        3. My laptop has some fan problems may be so may this facebook problem won’t be for others but it was clear that doing same wasn’t a problem in chrome and also it was clear that browsing facebook and outlook with firefox, had increased cpu usage so much that wasn’t normal. (Although may the problems was because of some addons like mix of noscript, privacy pousum, multi account containers, and may be one or two more)

  3. flotsam said on April 21, 2019 at 11:16 am
    Reply

    Sorry to be picky but the browser itself is the user agent. An email client is a user agent. A bot is a user agent. A proxy is a user agent. The user agent string is what identifies the user agent to a server.

    1. ULBoom said on April 21, 2019 at 3:40 pm
      Reply

      Good point. What’s typically called user agent might be better named user agent identifier or similar.

  4. john IL said on April 21, 2019 at 1:14 pm
    Reply

    Yeah in some ways Edge Chromium is a regression for Microsoft. They did some deals with streaming video services like Amazon and Netflix giving original Edge a lock on better quality. Already some original Edge users are not happy that Edge chromium is more stripped down and leaves out features they got used to. I think many of those users will be disappointed in where Microsoft is going with Edge chromium. Its not going to be so complex and feature filled because Microsoft is spending much less development time on Edge chromium internally.

    1. Anonymous said on April 21, 2019 at 6:36 pm
      Reply

      I’m not technical and don’t know how any of this stuff works, but it seems to me if MS is spending less time/money on the basic engine, then it has more time/money to spend on features and frills.

      1. zakius said on April 21, 2019 at 9:53 pm
        Reply

        they won’t be spending any time on features, I can guarantee that

      2. Ali said on May 10, 2019 at 2:10 pm
        Reply

        I have same feeling.
        A fraction of what Microsoft used to spend in engine, will be more than enough for features i think.

  5. Dave said on April 21, 2019 at 7:06 pm
    Reply

    You keep mentioning playing netflix in Edge @4k. How do you know it’s 4k?

    I ask because we use Edge for netflix, not the app, and have the premuim plan and have the playback settings manually set to the max but….

    Our TV is non smart – 32″ Samsung at 1080p so 4k would be a waste of bandwidth for us but we do want 1080p wich is at the bottom of the highest playback setting.

    1. AnorKnee Merce said on April 22, 2019 at 6:25 am
      Reply

      @ Dave

      You know it’s 4k by looking at the the Internet download speed(via Network Connections or System Monitor) = about 20Mbps.
      ……. Streaming a video at 1080p or 1k will show a download speed of about 4Mbps or 400kbps.

      To get 4k, it goes without saying that the display device must also be capable of 4k, eg the TV, desktop monitor, laptop, smartphone, VR head-set, etc.

      4k is only visually discernible for TVs of 55 inches or larger, ie when viewed normally from at least 8 feet away. 4k is useful for VR where the eyes are very close to the display. At present, nearly all VR headsets are still either 1k or 2k because 4k consumes much more battery power. Only high-end smartphones are 4k, eg the Samsung Galaxy S9, which can also be used for VR via headset adapters. It’s quite pointless to have 4k desktops and laptops.

      M$-Edge has exclusive rights to 4k Netflix videos since 2015. It did not help M$-Edge to increase its world market share against Chrome. So, it will also not help the new M$-Edgemium or Chromedge.

      1. AnorKnee Merce said on April 22, 2019 at 12:14 pm
        Reply

        @ Dave …….. Sorry, correction…

        You know it’s 4k by looking at the amount of downloaded data while streaming the 4k video which requires an Internet download speed of about 20Mbps. A 1-hour 4k video is about 40GB in size(1 minute video = about 660MB downloaded).
        ……. Streaming a 1080p or 1k video requires about 4Mbps or 400kbps and a 1-hour 1080p/1k video is about 4GB in size(= 1 minute video = about 66MB downloaded).

        So, check the amount of data being downloaded in 1 minute via Network Connections or System Monitor. Of course, your Internet plan should be at least 20Mbps = no buffering while streaming 4k videos.

    2. AnorKnee Merce said on April 22, 2019 at 7:14 pm
      Reply

      Eg AT&T Home Fiber Internet plans:

      (a) Internet 100Mbps plan @ US$50 per month and Internet 300Mbps plan at US$70 per month are data-capped at 1TB or 1000GB per month.

      (b) Internet 1000Mbps or 1Gbps plan @ US$90 per month gives unlimited data.

      If you stream recorded 4k Netflix videos for 3 hours per day/night = 120GB of data consumed. For 1 month or 30 days, that will consume 3600GB or 3.6TB of data.
      ……. Double the figures for live-streaming.

      The above figures are for 1 device only, ie excluding others in the Home who use other devices to stream videos from the Internet.
      ……. Videos consume the most Internet data, especially multi-player online gaming in 4k.

      Another reason Netflix’s 4k videos did not help M$-Edge to gain much world market share against Chrome, ie super heavy data consumption.

      1. Dave said on April 22, 2019 at 9:37 pm
        Reply

        @AnorKnee Merce 4Mbps = 4000kbps. A typo I assume.

        Thanks for the info though. I read you can hit Ctrl+Shft+Alt+S and see the current bitrate but haven’t tried it. Some say it doesn’t work anymore, other say it does.

        We have but one choice for internet here (of any decent speed) Charter Cable. The base package is 200Mbps unlimited for $65/mo. They offer a higher speed but I can’t see the prices without logging in. They don’t like sharing info with current customers about better deals they might be able to get.

        Seeing those AT&T prices makes me feel a little better about what we’re paying though.

  6. DaveyK said on April 22, 2019 at 8:53 am
    Reply

    It isn’t the first to do this. Pale Moon also has a number of built-in UA overrides to work around dodgy sites that otherwise don’t play nice.

    Ultimately its one of ny pet peeves with websites – stop trying to “figure out” what browser I’m using, dish out a standard version of the site for everyone and let the browser deal with the rendering….

    1. John G. said on April 22, 2019 at 2:40 pm
      Reply

      Also the K-Meleon Goanna browser, currently maintained by Roytam and built with a good featured compatible Goanna engine, has a very large number of integrated UA that automatically override themselves when visiting a large number of sites. Really useful this option in Edge by the way.

  7. grego said on April 24, 2019 at 1:08 pm
    Reply

    It “may” do this or that, but I can simply wait until it’s released.

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