Microsoft Confirms It Will Adopt Chromium for Microsoft Edge

Posted on December 6, 2018 by Mehedi Hassan in Google, Microsoft, Windows, Windows 10 with 36 Comments

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.

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Comments (41)

41 responses to “Microsoft Confirms It Will Adopt Chromium for Microsoft Edge”

  1. Davor Radman

    If I can't login and sync to my google account, not much use for me.

  2. BudTugglie

    Why is Microsoft wasting money on another browser? What do they have to gain? There are enough browsers already in popular use. Once again, Microsoft comes late to a game that is already over.

    • Alastair Cooper

      In reply to BudTugglie:

      Even if people don't use their browser, it's a dependency for other technologies that render web content, like UWP apps as stated above. There are also a lot of Win32 applications that use Windows' bundled browser components.

      It's also one of the few outlets they have control over for integrating their online services (just as with Google and Chrome) so that's likely to be a big factor too.

      Also remember 15 years ago IE was dominant, Firefox was extremely capable but an also-ran on market share and Chrome didn't even exist. The game seemed to be over then but things change.

  3. reason42

    "But if you, like me, have hated the stability of Edge in the past, this could be a welcome change".

    Hated the stability?

  4. skane2600

    Kind of crazy of MS to develop a new version of Edge so it can work on Windows 7 when they say they are going to stop supporting it in 2 years. If they're serious they should extend the deadline.

    And what are the implications for UWP? Unless they intend to have significantly different versions for different versions of Windows, it seems they'll have to make the new Edge a Win32 program.

  5. warren

    I wonder what this means for the next versions of Windows Server and Windows 10 LTSC. Yeah I know it's still three years away, but would they reconsider their stance on shipping a modern web browser? Would they ship a version of Chromium then spend the next ten years backporting security patches?

  6. alexoughton

    Does this mean that Chrome itself will then be allowed in the store?

    If the rule is that apps in the store need to use the Edge engine... and that's changing to Chromium... wouldn't that mean that Chrome would be allowed by virtue of also being Chromium under the hood?

    • wright_is

      In reply to alexoughton:

      It would have to use the installed Microsoft Blink engine, not its own, so it would need some re-working and would just be a stripped down shell. But could theoretically work, within the guidelines.

      But until the guidelines change, you wouldn't get "full" Chrome, but Chrome á la iOS.

  7. waethorn

    ....part of the FANG crowd, indeed! So much so, they're willing to just reuse code to get there.

  8. christian.hvid

    "The company says this will enable it to bring Edge to other versions of Windows, like 7 and 8.1"

    Paul, we debated briefly over this possibility two days ago. Turns out I won. That's gotta be worth one of those awesome Alpha-male badges on my avatar, right?

  9. Winner

    Frequent updates to a Microsoft browser? Wow, who would have thought? I guess we will see if it actually happens.

  10. zicoz

    How is this going to help them deliver frequent updates to Edge on Windows 10? How are they removing the things that are preventing this today? (The need to keep compatibility between Edge and UWP)

  11. disco_larry

    Does this mean it will support Chrome extensions? The plugin ecosystem for Edge sucks.

  12. gardner

    I haven't seen others speak of this, but wont this reduce the appeal of "Chrome the browser" ?

    Any website chrome-compatible will be Edge-compatible, right?

    So what would the appeal be for normals to download and install Chrome if their desktops already have a compatible browser?

    (and yes I know, "extensions", but I don't think many people select their browser based on which extensions it supports.

  13. fishnet37222

    I would have preferred they go with Gecko.

  14. chiwax

    Glad to see that they wanna improve touch on all browsers. Because Google stuff on Windows 10 is surprisingly bad when it comes to touch. YouTube is by far the worst for me.

    • T182

      In reply to ChiWax:

      Agreed. I hate trying to use Chrome on my Surface Pro in tablet mode. Wonder if they'll do anything for inking, not that I use it that often.

      This would make the reports of a 'Windows Lite' OS make sense. This could be a big win in the education market for MS. I'm excited to see where this goes. Granted, there's a lot of room to be disappointed...

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