Microsoft is announcing big changes for the default browser in Windows 10 today. Redmond is confirming a report from earlier this week that it is replacing the EdgeHTML browser engine with Chromium on Microsoft Edge.
Chromium is the open source browser that powers Google Chrome, as well as some other smaller browsers. The development of Chromium is mostly led by Google engineers, as well as other open source contributors.
Over the next year, Microsoft plans to move Edge to a “Chromium-compatible” platform on Windows 10. The company plans to be a major contributor to the Chromium project, stating its engineers have already started work on better ARM support. It also plans to contribute to Chromium to improve Chromium-based browsers, including Edge, to work better on Windows 10 hardware. Part of that includes introducing improved touch support and web accessibility.
The move to Chromium will allow Microsoft to deliver frequent updates to Edge on Windows 10, even on older versions of the OS, which is something that hasn’t been possible in the past. The company says this will enable it to bring Edge to other versions of Windows, like 7 and 8.1, and other platforms like macOS in the near-future.
Redmond says the changes to Microsoft Edge will all be “under the hood” and that users shouldn’t see a major change in the browser itself. The company hopes the move to Chromium will help make the web much more of a consistent experience for users and web developers. As developers will no longer have to test their websites and web apps separately for EdgeHTML, the web will also become less fragmented, allowing for easier testing and more of a consistent experience for everyone.
Microsoft hopes to release an early preview build of the new Microsoft Edge sometime in early 2019. Still, the details for all this is pretty scarce at this moment, and that’s likely because Microsoft was effectively forced to reveal its plans to the public after the big leak from earlier this week.
The move to Chromium is certainly going to be a huge one for Edge as a browser. As EdgeHTML powers the web platform in UWP apps as well, the shift could be quite complicated. But if you, like me, have hated the stability of Edge in the past, this could be a welcome change. Or not. It all depends on how Microsoft implements Chromium and how swiftly everything happens.