Microsoft Edge's latest AI tool sends open websites to Microsoft

Martin Brinkmann
Jan 30, 2024
Microsoft Edge
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Microsoft Edge's latest AI feature helps users put open tabs into groups for improved management. Tab Groups, introduced in Microsoft Edge in 2021, is a useful feature to improve tab organization in the browser.

Most modern web browsers support tab groups. Up until now, users had to create tab groups by themselves. Microsoft Edge users, for instance, need to right-click on a tab and select the "add tab to new group" option from the context menu to create one. Tab groups may have custom names and colors to improve identification further.

Drag & drop other tabs on the newly created tab group to add them to it. The system is simple and very effective, thanks to the ability to expand and collapse tab groups in the browser.

Vivaldi users have more options than any other browser user, thanks to an impressive array of tab related features. It supports two-level tab stacks, which display all tabs of a stack (group) in a second tab row, which improves management significantly.

Group Similar Tabs in Edge and privacy

Edge Group Similar Tabs

Group Similar Tabs is a new AI feature in Edge Stable. Microsoft did test it for some time in development versions of the browser.

The main idea behind it is to improve the creation of tab groups for the user. The process is automated when the feature is used, which means that you do not have to create tab groups manually anymore and put tabs into them.

To use the feature, select the tab actions menu in Microsoft Edge's toolbar and select Group Similar Tabs (Preview).

Edge sends information about all open websites to a Microsoft server when the option is selected. The AI processes the request then on the server and returns its suggestions after a moment.

A click on the group tabs button creates the tab groups. Options to customize individual tab groups are provided. There is also an option to ungroup a suggested group to skip the creation of a specific group.

The option to group tabs automatically is useful, especially when lots of tabs are opened in the browser.

What Microsoft does not reveal is that the feature requires an active Internet connection and communication with Microsoft servers.

Group Similar Tabs

When you turn off your Internet connection, Group similar tabs returns "We were unable to group your tabs". In other words, the processing happens on Microsoft servers and not locally.

This is actually identical to how Google Chrome's Tab Organizer creates tab groups for Chrome users. It too communicates with Google servers to suggest tab groups and submits all URLs and titles of websites of the browser window to Google.

Microsoft announced the feature last year on the Windows Experience Blog: "Productivity and organization go hand in hand. Yesterday, we announced Tab Auto-grouping in Edge, which uses AI to group your tabs based on specific topics or categories. Simply navigate to the tab icon on the top left, and click on group similar tabs, and Copilot will group your tabs, leaving your browser window, and mind, less cluttered."

No word on data processing or privacy in the announcement. The feature in Edge provides no information either. It is unclear how the data is stored, processed and used.

Closing words

While the automatic tab group creation features of Edge and Chrome look useful, privacy conscious users may want to skip those and create tab groups manually instead.

Having your entire list of open websites submitted to a company server without really knowing what is done with it and how it is stored outweighs the convenience of the feature.

Now You: do you use tab groups and / or AI tools? (via Deskmodder)

Summary
Microsoft Edge's latest AI tool sends open websites to Microsoft
Article Name
Microsoft Edge's latest AI tool sends open websites to Microsoft
Description
Microsoft Edge may create automatic tab groups using AI, but using the feature has serious privacy implications.
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Ghacks Technology News
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Comments

  1. TelV said on February 7, 2024 at 11:59 am
    Reply

    According to “The Register” Microsoft Edge is also surreptitiously grabbing all the data from other Chrome browser tabs into the bargain: https://www.theregister.com/2024/01/30/microsoft_edge_tabs/

  2. Archibald Haddock said on January 31, 2024 at 6:43 pm
    Reply

    Seems unnecessary and slightly absurd. Why would I use this service?

  3. funkyy said on January 31, 2024 at 3:22 pm
    Reply

    Some really great, incisive, entertaining, accurate comments on here today.
    I enjoyed reading them all, and agree with how “Big Brother” is maturing into
    a frightening future for those who come after us.

  4. Anonymous said on January 31, 2024 at 1:06 am
    Reply

    Send open websites to Microsoft…. like…. sync????? oh wowwwwwwww how terrible is to enable features that obviously use internet to be improved or be functional!!!!!! wow… how is possible such features exist????

    They are not mandatory to use, deal with it, if people don’t trust or like Microsoft, then people shouldn’t use Microsoft or Edge and ignore it or these features.

    1. Anonymous said on January 31, 2024 at 4:46 pm
      Reply

      ignorance: over 9000
      besides that, using internet for a feature like sync IS NOT synonymous with giving MS access to my browsing data.
      Next, saying don use xy when you dont like xy is one of the retardest mindsets you can have.
      You dont like contaminated water? dont drink it
      You dont like Terrorists? Avoid them
      You dont like Crimes? Ignore them
      Yea, with this mindset we can save alot of funding money for police, no need for any wars anymore, just avoid and ignore the shit
      No need to improve or force ppl to be better. just avoid avoid avoid and ignore. That will lead to a better world for sure. just trust the anon bro.

      The onyl way to go is to slap MS and all other on their hands by regulation (since marked obviosuly doesnt regulate itself contrary to common beliefs) when they abuse monopoly power.
      You cant avoid de facto monopolists if you dont want to isolate yourself, they created de facto standards thx to ppl beeing bigmouhed only after it happened.
      MS turned into data grabbing company.
      They even force 3.party into this when those use MS components like webview.
      Interesting github discussion.
      https://github.com/MicrosoftEdge/WebView2Feedback/issues/916

    2. John G. said on January 31, 2024 at 9:19 am
      Reply

      Edge also save screen captures and there is no way to disable the option.

      1. Anonymous said on January 31, 2024 at 4:36 pm
        Reply

        @John G. You can fix this at any time:
        1. Open Microsoft Edge.
        2. Click/tap on the History (Ctrl+H) button on the toolbar to open the History hub.
        3. Click/tap on the Turn on image on hover or Turn off image on hover (default) button for what you want.

      2. John G. said on February 2, 2024 at 9:51 pm
        Reply

        @Anonymous, thanks, it worked! :]

  5. Tachy said on January 30, 2024 at 3:13 pm
    Reply

    I fail to see the need to have a webpage open you cannot see.

    1. bruh said on January 31, 2024 at 10:30 am
      Reply

      Tachy, do you not believe in having multiple tabs open? This is quite a spartan approach…

      1. Tachy said on January 31, 2024 at 5:46 pm
        Reply

        The only time I have more then one tab is when a link opens in a new tab per my browser settings. It’s easier to go back to where I was on the original page by closing a tab then it is using the back button.

        This is really handy on Amazon as your search results will change if you reload the page to whatever product they profit the most from at the microsecond of your search.

        In the past opening multiple tabs, giving them time to load, made sense but now pages load in milliseconds. Obviously there are instances when one might switch back and forth between tabs but as a general rule why have them open if your not looking at them?

        I use “https://www.protopage.com/mywaydammit” for my home page. A new tab opens when I follow a link, then I close it when I’m done on that page.

  6. JohnIL said on January 30, 2024 at 1:44 pm
    Reply

    AI is all about collecting data and offering to do tasks for you. Not sure where this goes, but already its creating big questions about how it used.

    1. No thanks, Microsoft said on January 31, 2024 at 1:51 am
      Reply

      The last company you want collecting your data is one with a history of selling it to just about anyone willing to pay, including foreign organizations and governments. Microsoft, Google, and Meta are all known to sell your data.

  7. 45 RPM said on January 30, 2024 at 9:14 am
    Reply

    @Anonymous – Really? There are now many US states where just seeking an abortion is a crime. What an *.

    1. John G. said on January 30, 2024 at 10:30 am
      Reply

      Same in Europe, just to point it out.

      1. 45 RPM said on January 30, 2024 at 5:15 pm
        Reply

        @John G.,

        Malta,Lichtenstein,Monaco,Andorra and San Marino only. Poland elected a non-ultra-right-wing government and now on its way to legal again.

        All in all, the ones that remain bar Malta are smaller than Central Park in NYC, only slight exaggeration. Archaic monarchies, that happen to be geographically in Europe but are basically private properties they share with the plebs.

      2. John G. said on February 2, 2024 at 9:59 pm
        Reply

        @45 RPM, sorry, however your knowledge about the 27 members of EU is not accurate at all.

    2. Anonymous said on January 30, 2024 at 10:14 am
      Reply

      To be fair these states are not where the technology is coming from now is it? It’s from the more developed states.

  8. Anonymous said on January 30, 2024 at 8:21 am
    Reply

    Unless you’ve got something to hide what’s the problem? It’s an American company. American, not some other country where the URLs and tab titles could possibly get you jailed because they hint at the fact that you’re a sapphic girl.

    1. Mystique said on January 30, 2024 at 5:37 pm
      Reply

      Right because nobody ever in the history of the old US of A has ever been jailed and killed incorrectly?
      Because companies based in the US were never hacked and had their data stolen?
      Because in the history of the US nobody was either a spy or rogue that stole and released data?
      Because companies never ever misuse/mishandle the data they store?

      The truth of the matter is that profiling people at the very least is an extremely flawed process.
      Imagine you were carrying out some research for a school history project on Nazi’s and the modern era or something like that and you were suddenly flagged as a Nazi.

      I often have to wonder if people live in a transparent glasses houses. I mean if you’ve got nothing to hide then why worry…right??

      These issues above are not limited to one country alone so we should all be concerned about such things as a misjudgement of character has no geographical barrier and these are only a few examples based on the comment above.

      Ones level of comfort to divulge personal information is not a universal pattern or format for the next person and should not be treated as such.

      Privacy is a basic human right not a privilege, painting it as anything else but is a travesty and just another tool in the arsenal of the modern day grifter.

    2. Anonymous said on January 30, 2024 at 11:02 am
      Reply

      Dear Mr. Anonymous,
      as you have got nothing to hide, I’d kindly ask you to answer this request, by posting the following information in this thread:
      – your first, middle and last name
      – date and location of birth
      – current location of residence
      – phone no. (+ model, and OS version)
      – private email address
      – current occupation
      – current annual salary
      – car model, age and license plate no
      – driver license no
      – history of traffic offenses
      – social security no
      – your credit card no., dates of expiration and their CVC/CVV,
      – all credit and debit cards no, issuer, date of expiration and relevant pins
      – sexual orientation
      – legal history
      – conviction history
      – history of past insurers
      – religion
      – full educational history
      – party membership or affiliation
      – weight and height
      – disabilities (physically or mental)
      – history of health issues
      – photos of every tattoo
      – images of your fingerprints and your retina (hi-res)
      – a complete list of all your biometrically secured assets and their current location
      – your full DNA sequence
      – a list of all of your logins, passwords and their URL
      – your physical whereabouts on 9/11, 1963/11/22 and when the Titanic sank
      – list of membership in illegal, criminal or terrorist organizations (+ membership no + copy
      of membership card)
      – list of past and current sexual partners, dates of interaction and if human or not
      – drug usage habits (nicotine, alcohol, glue or whatever and at what price you buy and
      from whom, where and potential code words)
      – list of committed past war crimes (only those committed after 01.01.1492)
      – if active serial killer or not, and if not: why not
      – if flat-earther or not, and if not: why not
      – if vampire/werewolf or not, and if not: why not
      – no of times having be abducted by aliens for sex experiments
      – no of nuclear warheads, privately owned by you
      – no of time you have been elected president of the United Federation of Planets
      – no of directly related family members who identify either as “Yeti” or “Sasquatch”
      – anything embarrassing or otherwise suitable to black mail you
      – anything embarrassing or otherwise suitable to black mail someone else (including:
      name, contact data and estimated net-wealth)
      – if you can locate Nigeria on a map of the United States

      Thank you for you corporation citizen
      It’s good to know, that there are still some honest, good and decent people left, who’ve got nothing to hide.

      After you’ve complied with the request, our Nigerian affiliate (actually a real prince) will soon contact you and offer you a highly valuable business proposition, worthy of an honest and truly outstanding individual like you.

      Sincerely

      The official local administration of honest citizens

      1. Tom Hawack said on January 30, 2024 at 12:26 pm
        Reply

        Hum… he could be a she (forget that, old smile from the sixties), I mean ladies can be anonymous as well : Mr. and/or Mrs. Jones, for instance (‘Me and Mrs. Jones’, the great seventies hit…).
        By the way, if we have noting to hide why not live naked under the tropics?
        Otherwise, why not initiate a worldwide ‘identity coming-out”? What a fantastic idea :

        “My name is Lolita
        And er
        I’m not supposed to
        Play!
        With boys!”

        Hi Lolita, nice to meet you. My name is Hawack, Tom Hawack. I’m not a boy, I’m a man, spell it m-a-n. How about playing with a man? Take a chance, Lolita?!

        That’s all for our Tuesday Morning Live bullshit.

        @Martin, site admin : please forgive this totally off-topic wording …

    3. John G. said on January 30, 2024 at 10:25 am
      Reply

      Don’t worry too much. Here in Europe we all are blaming the US’s software but we are certainly unable to made our own software. The EU is very good making laws against others, and it’s still better to write laws against its own citizens. However, the US were better 20 years ago, now is more or like that the EU way of decay.

      1. Archibald Haddock said on January 31, 2024 at 6:36 pm
        Reply

        Blaming US software? Nobody in the EU is ‘blaming’ software from the US. Most people in Europe don’t like telemetry and surveillance in software. Those ‘features’ are frowned upon, as I believe they are by American citizens – but apparently, American politicians don’t serve their people.

      2. Allwynd said on February 4, 2024 at 10:47 am
        Reply

        I prefer using Chinese and Russian software rather than american trash software, but most of the time, it’s forced upon us and we can’t do much about it. My phone is Xiaomi, a Chinese brand, I use Yandex keyboard on it and Startpage as a search engine. I bought Xiaomi specifically because it’s Chinese so I can support them and help them grow and dominate the West faster. I’d use a Russian phone too, but they don’t have really any phones being sold abroad and I don’t want to go through the trouble of getting a subpar phone when several Chinese brands already offer top quality Android phones.

        Windows is the biggest culprit of the worst possible software or OS that has become so mainstream you can’t escape from it and each new version gets worse and worse, but nobody can do anything, because they are too scared to move to Linux.

      3. OldGamer said on January 30, 2024 at 8:32 pm
        Reply

        + 1
        John G., Good summary..Love it..
        Thanks.. =)

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