Microsoft wants the Edge browser to be a staple of security for the enterprise sector, and the upcoming big update to Windows 10 should bring virtualization tech to make it happen.
Meet the Windows Defender Application Guard, which is Edge browser's way to create and run a lightweight virtual machine that protects your PC from nasty bugs and malicious software lurking on certain web pages.
It works like this: admins from the IT department compile a list of trusted sites that will launch in the default Edge browser. Any web pages that are not on the list automatically load in an isolated browsing session, which also gets a red marker icon.
The protected session, aka virtual machine, basically places a defensive mechanism between the workstation and the website the user is perusing. This ensures that malicious content, should there be any, is unable to access local storage, modify apps or hook onto the system's kernel to wreak havoc.
When the Windows Defender Application Guard is enabled, users should be safe from both viruses and zero-day exploits and various other security vulnerabilities.
"90 percent of phishing attacks use a browser to open and initiate an attack," Microsoft explains.
Microsoft is sure that a "safer, worry-free browsing experience" will be a direct result of using Windows 10's Microsoft Edge, especially after it gets bolstered with the Windows Defender Application Guard.
Users should keep in mind that virtualization technology is quite taxing on processing power, meaning that dated PCs will not be able to tap into Application Guard's potential. This seems to be intentional on Microsoft's part, which is determined to only offer Windows 10 support for the new generations of CPUs.
If you are wondering when the consumer sector will tap into the extra layer of online security, you should not hold your breath. Some technical issues prevent the virtualization from going into home-user market. For one thing, a lot of users have older generation CPUs that do not feature Windows 10 support, but there is also the cookies problem.
Cookies cannot be stored permanently on virtual browsing sessions, as the virtual machine clears them once the session has ended. This may be palatable for a locked-down enterprise environment, but consumers could have a hard time stomaching the change.
We look forward to seeing this level of security in our homes, but for now Windows Defender Application Guard is only in tow for the enterprise version of Windows 10.
Application Guard should land later this year in an Insider build of Windows, with a live stable version expected in early 2017.