Microsoft Releases Personal Shopping Assistant for Chrome

After blasting Google's Chrome browser for its laptop-battery-depleting ways, Microsoft releases a Chrome extension that helps online shoppers find deals online.

Google Chrome

Just days after claiming victory in the Web browser wars, at least in terms of power consumption, Microsoft announced on June 23 a new Chrome extension called Personal Shopping Assistant.

Rewinding to June 20, Microsoft claimed its Edge Web browser for Windows 10 beat out all other mainstream browsers when it comes to helping users make the most of their laptop batteries. In the company's tests using a Surface Book, Edge beat out Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Opera's battery saver mode.

"We then automated each browser to perform the same series of activities: opening websites, scrolling through articles, and watching videos, opening new tabs for each task. We used the same websites you spend your time on—Facebook, Google, YouTube, Amazon, Wikipedia and more," blogged Jason Weber, director of the Web Platform group at Microsoft Edge. "For these browsing activities, our tests show Microsoft Edge is a more energy efficient browser on Windows 10, with up to 36 percent to 53 percent more battery life to get what you need done—whether you're studying at the library, researching dream vacation destinations, or checking in with your friends on social networks."

Fast-forward to today, and Microsoft released a new extension for its rival, power-hungry browser that enables users to unearth online bargains through its experimental app unit called Microsoft Garage. Dubbed Personal Shopping Assistant extension for Chrome, the add-on automatically tracks prices on desired items and notifies users when prices drop.

In a blog post that no longer appears on Microsoft's Website—the Personal Shopping Assistant Web page and Chrome Web Store listing remain active as of this writing but the post's URL now leads to the Microsoft Garage home page—Gagan Chopra, a part of the team responsible for the add-on, said it "doesn't tell you what to buy or where, but it's doing mechanical jobs we'd have to otherwise do ourselves. It tells you where else you can buy what you're looking for and monitors it."

The add-on is an essentially hands-off affair. While users research products online, Personal Shopping Assistant keeps track of items, their prices and where they are being sold in the background, sparing users the need to keep multiple browser tabs open as they seek out bargains. Users can favorite items that the add-on encounters for future reference. Finally, the add-on delivers money-saving recommendations based on their browsing and product-research activities.

"Not having to keep tabs open excites users," Gaurav Jain, a member of the Personal Shopping Assistant team, is quoted as saying in the since-deleted post. "Getting the best deal from other places or the same merchants keeps them going and brings them back."

The Chrome Web Store listing describes the add-on as a "smart shopping cart across the Web." Personal Shopping Assistant offers a send-to-mobile option that allows users to access the add-on's bargain-hunting capabilities on their smartphones.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...