Today Microsoft has officially announced it is going to abandon its EdgeHTML and Chakra scripting engines, and move to Chromium for their first-party web browser, Microsoft Edge. This is big news for the company that once dominated the web browsing market. There’s a lot of reasons for this change, and the move is a good one, but it’s also a little sad for the web as a whole.

Despite being the built-in browser on Windows 10, which is installed on around 700 million active devices, Edge owns just a tiny fraction of the desktop browsing market. Google Chrome is far and away the leader here, and with Google’s relentless update schedule, there is no indication of this reversing anytime soon. I recall when Google Chrome was first launched, and wondered if the world really needed yet another browser, and clearly the answer was no. The only thing was the no was not for Chrome.

With such a small share of the market, and Edge only available on Windows 10, developers would often never even see if a website worked on Edge or not. Even though Edge was the most standards compliant browser Microsoft ever shipped, that still was not enough for a perfect web experience on every site. If users ran into an issue, they would just move to Chrome even if they had given Edge a chance.

The move to Chromium as the underpinnings of Edge should improve the situation quite a bit. As well, Microsoft will be releasing versions of Edge based on Chromium for Windows 7, Windows 8, and even macOS, in addition to Windows 10. This should help developers who use those platforms test Edge if they need to.

In addition, Edge has been powered by Chromium on Android already, so the team is at least somewhat familiar with what it can do.

Goodbye EdgeHTML - we hardly knew you

Microsoft is has been heavily involved in open-sourcing its own software lately, and with Edge it will now join the Chromium community with their own contributions. Microsoft has committed to still advancing web standards, and bringing the current advantages from Edge over to Chromium, such as the accessibility and security features. By embracing Chromium, they will be having a much larger impact on the web than they ever could have maintaining their own code, so it should be a win for people who never even use Edge.

It’s sad that the web has evolved into this, and although you can’t really compare the world of IE6 to today, there are similarities there that can’t be forgotten, but for Microsoft and its users, this is a good move, and we look forward to seeing how the project evolves.

Source: Microsoft Edge on Github

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  • Chaitanya - Thursday, December 6, 2018 - link

    Shame Edge had to go, it was much better than Chrome and its peers.
  • Desierz - Thursday, December 6, 2018 - link

    The market has spoken.
  • nevcairiel - Friday, December 7, 2018 - link

    Edge, the browser, will remain. It'll just use a different rendering engine behind the scenes.
  • Oxford Guy - Monday, December 10, 2018 - link

    "There’s a lot of reasons for this change, and the move is a good one"

    Nope. No one should cheerlead for less diversity in browser rendering. Google, in particular, should hardly be blithely given more influence over the web than it already has, as if that doesn't have negative consequences.
  • RSAUser - Wednesday, December 12, 2018 - link

    Chromium is open source, so neither Google or MS would be able to own it. This is good in the way that it will make web design easier, but might stagnate progress as if the community/gate keepers decline the update, it won't be pushed, while previously both MS and FF would be able to make independent decisions.
  • Samus - Friday, December 7, 2018 - link

    It's unfortunate because EdgeHTML is a thoroughly more modern rendering engine, consistently outperforming Chromium in speed and battery life, at the cost of a little accuracy that could be improved if people cared.

    Obviously, people don't care. With Safari and Chrome the two most popular browsers (at least in the United States) and both being based on Chromium (Webkit is for all intents and purposes - Chromium) I guess the writing is on the wall.

    The announcement for Windows 7 editions is somewhat exciting.
  • Alexvrb - Saturday, December 8, 2018 - link

    I can't wait to see the benchmarks showing a drop in performance after they switch. Personally I don't think the switch will help them gain much market share (at least on Win10). I mean look at Opera. It was once a perfectly viable alternative (especially for low-horsepower devices or older platforms). Now it's practically vanishware. I do agree that backporting Edge to Win7/8 and putting it on MacOS should help a little bit, but they could have done that with EdgeHTML/Chakra as well.

    Anyway, I can't help but feel that every time a standards-based rendering engine dies off, it's a blow to web standards. Gives devs another excuse to only build for the stock browsers, standards compliance be damned. Webkit and Chromium will now cover not only the overwhelming majority of the market, but also all pre-installed browsers. On the plus side, this will mean more developers working on Chromium itself.
  • marees - Sunday, December 9, 2018 - link

    Ironically, I have switched to Opera on Android, after the white-on-white update by Chrome

    before that I used to think, who the hell would need Opera, since it is using the same webkit engine as Chrome?
  • Alexvrb - Monday, December 10, 2018 - link

    They don't have different themes? Not that I wouldn't recommend Opera, heck the less Google the better. If I get a new phone my goal would be to strip as much Google out of it as possible, or maybe even slap Lineage on it. Apple has gone off the deep end too now so they're a lot less appealing than they were. Sigh.
  • Oxford Guy - Monday, December 10, 2018 - link

    "Obviously, people don't care."

    People are sheep. If people were to care about things being done correctly, they wouldn't allow corporations to give them software with incomprehensible names, like Chrome, in the first place.

    A software program's name should indicate its function. Apple got that right in 1983 with the Lisa's document-centric design. Task-centric computing makes sense and application-centric does not. It is the height of application-centric stupidity to have programs given names like Chrome and Firefox.

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