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Microsoft Guts Edge, Adds Chromium to Save Failing Browser

To the 7 people who use Microsoft Edge exclusively, I've got some good news for you. Microsoft has confirmed rumors it will be dropping the proprietary rendering engine at the core of its desktop web browser, and replacing it with a Chromium-compatible engine. A preview build is coming in early 2019.

Image credit: FOOTAGE VECTOR PHOTO/Shutterstock

(Image credit: Image credit: FOOTAGE VECTOR PHOTO/Shutterstock)

Why is this good news? This is all about extensions. Right now, Edge's set of browser extensions is limited, leaving users no compelling reason to switch from Chrome, which is powered by the open-source Chromium.  (The mobile versions of Edge already use other rendering engines -- Chromium on Android and WebKit on iOS.)

Once this transition happens, Chrome extensions and applications will run on Edge without much or any tweaking, so developers will have an easier time porting content over to Edge.

In a blog post, Microsoft Corporate VP of Windows Joe Belfiore confirmed the early rumors of this decision, and said Microsoft intends "to become a significant contributor to the Chromium project, in a way that can make not just Microsoft Edge — but other browsers as well — better on both PCs and other devices."

MORE: 41 Best Google Chrome Extensions of 2018

This is positioned as a win for all. It will help Edge survive but will also give Microsoft more influence in the further development of Chromium.

Belfiore also notes that this change means "Edge will now be delivered and updated for all supported versions of Windows and on a more frequent cadence."

This implies that the browser will be updated independently and will no longer be tied to major Windows system updates. 

While Belfiore says this project will "enable [Microsoft] to bring Microsoft Edge to other platforms like macOS," the above statement about "all supported versions of Windows" also suggests that Edge will be ported to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. (Official extended support for Windows 7 lasts until January 2020.)

Underneath the change: a fight for the future

With this announcement, Microsoft is declaring EdgeHTML, the rendering engine and web development platform underpinning Edge, to be a failed project. That's an inarguable truth as Chromium, which powers the Chrome browser and Chrome OS, has grown to be a whole platform, as the browser and Chromebooks have sat at the front of the pack. 

And as the pseudonymous security expert SwiftOnSecurity notes, this news is especially tied to Electron, a development tool for creating desktop applications. Electron works better with Chromium than it does with Edge. Microsoft didn't want to be left out in the cold in the same way it was left behind in smartphones, so it is making this move to become an active participant in Chromium.

Popular examples of Electron-based desktop applications include Slack, Spotify, WhatsApp and Amazon Alexa, as well as Microsoft's own Skype.

This article originally appeared on Laptop Mag.

Image credit: FOOTAGE VECTOR PHOTO/Shutterstock

  • Wolfshadw
    Any word on what this means for the Windows Mixed Reality add-on in Edge?

    -Wolf sends
    Reply
  • henrytcasey
    21553876 said:
    Any word on what this means for the Windows Mixed Reality add-on in Edge?

    -Wolf sends

    This shouldn't change anything, at least per Microsoft's statement, which includes:

    If you’re a Microsoft Edge customer, there is nothing you need to do as the Microsoft Edge you use today isn’t changing.
    Reply
  • Wolfshadw
    I don't work the Editorial side, but you and Nathaniel might want to give each other a heads up:

    https://www.tomshardware.com/news/microsoft-rebuild-edge-google-chromium,38211.html

    -Wolf sends
    Reply
  • johnrob
    Edge is and has been the only browser installed on my PC since I built it in March. It is just fine.
    Reply
  • Wolfshadw
    If I had to list my browser preferences in order it would be:

    1) Firefox
    2) Internet Explorer
    3) Chrome
    4) Edge

    Yes, I know there are other browsers available. I'm (mostly) happy with Firefox.

    -Wolf sends
    Reply
  • aquielisunari
    21553818 said:
    Edge may keep its name, but changes in 2019 will change the engine that powers the browser, a move to keep Microsoft's browser relevant.

    Microsoft Guts Edge, Adds Chromium to Save Failing Browser : Read more

    After 20 years M$ is finally admitting what we've been saying. Hopefully this also means a POSSIBLY more secure experience because (Edge? Chromium? Anaheim?) updates should be made available prior to or separate from comprehensive updates. Will it use less battery power? Will we stop using Edge only to download another browser?
    Reply
  • themandoist
    Oh no... we're gonna take another hit (update) in 2019.
    Ugh.
    Reply
  • Wolfshadw
    No. I'm just hoping Microsoft doesn't do to Mixed Reality what they did to Media Center.

    -Wolf sends
    Reply