Microsoft confirmed earlier rumors that it will be rebuilding Edge on the Chromium platform. It will also be bringing the browsers to more platforms, including Windows 7, 8 and macOS.
The switch is largely to take advantage of this popularity. Edge currently suffers from compatibility issues with some websites, many of which are now optimized to run properly on Chrome. By switching Edge to Chromium, Microsoft can leverage some of that popularity and jump ahead of the queue instead of being in a constant battle with web developers and changing goalposts.
The move to Chromium is largely going to be something that’s only under the hood. As far as the users are concerned, nothing really is going to change on the surface (no pun intended) and Edge will continue to operate as before, just with better compatibility.
Because Chromium is open source, Microsoft will also be giving back to the community, causing other Chromium browsers such as Chrome to improve as well on Windows.
The second important part of this story is that Microsoft will also be bringing this new version of Edge to more platforms. Instead of being exclusively baked into Windows 10, Edge will now be a downloadable browser on all platforms, including Windows 7, Windows 8 and, macOS. The rationale here being making developmental work easy across all platforms but it won’t hurt to increase the user base as well.
This will also mean the new version of Edge will be updated more frequently. Currently, Edge updates are tied with Windows 10 updates, which means it only gets a handful of updates throughout the year but once it’s decoupled from the OS, it can be updated as often as required across all platforms.
There are no concrete launch dates for this browser yet. Betas may start showing up early next year but we may be a year or so from release.
Microsoft is only just starting to disclose this platform shift to other companies involved in the Chromium project, and the company isn’t ready to start distributing daily builds of Edge running with Chromium just yet. Those beta builds will start early next year, before Microsoft makes the necessary changes in Windows 10 to shift Edge toward Chromium. We expect to see Windows 10 move to this Chromium-based version of Chrome sometime in 2019.
Microsoft now wants to collaborate with Apple, Google, and everyone else who also commits changes to Chromium. “If you’re part of the open-source community developing browsers, we invite you to collaborate with us as we build the future of Microsoft Edge and contribute to the Chromium project,” says Belfiore. “We are excited about the opportunity to be an even-more-active part of this community and bring the best of Microsoft forward to continue to make the web better for everyone.”