After being rumored to do so earlier this week, Microsoft has officially announced it’s rebuilding its Edge browser based on the Chromium engine. After years of trying to compete with Google’s web technology with EdgeHTML, the Windows creator is finally caving in and will use V8 JaveScript and Blink to power its default browser.
The reason for the change is due to web compatibility. With Google leading the way in terms of adopting new web technologies, Microsoft has fallen behind and, in exchange, lost out on opportunities for Edge-exclusive experiences. Those types of experiences have since been built upon Chromium which is the engine powering Google Chrome, the world’s favorite web browser. By restructuring Edge to work more like Chrome, Microsoft will likely have a better chance of adopting new users.
“Our intent is to align the Microsoft Edge web platform simultaneously (a) with web standards and (b) with other Chromium-based browsers,” said Joe Belfiore, corporate VP of Windows. “This will deliver improved compatibility for everyone and create a simpler test-matrix for web developers.”
Microsoft Edge is coming to Windows 7 and 8.1.
With this announcement comes confirmation Microsoft also plans on releasing Edge for older versions of Windows. Specifically, Microsoft will release an Edge executable file for those running Windows 7 and 8.1. This isn’t a scheme to grow Edge’s user base. In fact, it’s a way to make sure developers have access to the technologies being added to the browser since many of them work in mixed environments that feature machines running Windows 7 through 10.
“Improving the web-platform experience for both end users and developers requires that the web platform and the browser be consistently available to as many devices as possible,” said Belfiore. “To accomplish this, we will evolve the browser code more broadly, so that our distribution model offers an updated Microsoft Edge experience + platform across all supported versions of Windows, while still maintaining the benefits of the browser’s close integration with Windows.”
Microsoft will also be releasing a special version of Edge for macOS at some point in the future. We have no idea when this might happen, but we expect it at some point next year.
By separating Edge from the main Windows 10 experience, Microsoft will be able to update it more often with newer features and technologies to further enhance the overall experience of using the software. “Our philosophy of greater participation in Chromium open source will embrace contribution of beneficial new tech, consistent with some of the work we described above,” said Belfiore. “We recognize that making the web better on Windows is good for our customers, partners and our business – and we intend to actively contribute to that end.”
Microsoft’s mood towards Google Chrome should change significantly.
Today’s announcement may also mean Microsoft will stop being so mean to Google Chrome. The company has famously removed a Chrome installer from the Microsoft Store and continuously provided pop-ups and blockers to try and sway users from ever installing Chrome on their Windows 10 machine. This was to block any browsers not based on EdgeHTML from getting on your system, but now that Edge will be one of those browsers, there’s a good chance Microsoft’s relationship with Google’s browser will change significantly.
Microsoft Edge should adopt Chromium as its new engine at some point next year. Nothing’s gonna change on the consumer front and those who currently use Edge won’t need to make any changes. Developers interested in building experiences for the new version of Edge can join the development community here.
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