In what comes as a welcome sign of submission from Microsoft, the company on Thursday confirmed it will adopt the open source Chromium platform next year in the development of its Edge browser. That’s the same platform powering Google’s Chrome, which just so happens to be the most popular browser on the planet.
In the end, this is a move that will benefit all parties involved. Average users will find Edge to be more compatible than ever before. Web developers won’t have to worry about testing their sites on yet another platform. And the Chromium project will be far more robust with a team of Microsoft engineers working on it. We won’t see the fruits of Microsoft’s labor until 2019, but this is undeniably a step in the right direction for the company.
Compared to the endlessly mocked Internet Explorer, Edge is a totally serviceable, relatively sleek piece of software, but the fact is that web developers simply weren’t going to go out of their way to ensure that their websites would run flawlessly on the platform when nearly 70% of the planet uses Chrome. That’s not to say switching to Chromium was a complete no-brainer, but if Microsoft wants Edge to be relevant, it might be the only option.
Microsoft highlighted three key changes that will take place as the transition to Chromium begins:
- We will move to a Chromium-compatible web platform for Microsoft Edge on the desktop: Microsoft wants to align the Edge web platform with web standards and other Chromium browsers at the same time.
- Microsoft Edge will now be delivered and updated for all supported versions of Windows and on a more frequent cadence: Whether you’re on Windows 7, 8, or 10, Microsoft wants Edge to run (and run well) on your system. There’s also a possibility that Edge could come to macOS someday.
- We will contribute web platform enhancements to make Chromium-based browsers better on Windows devices: Even if you don’t use Edge, Microsoft still wants your experience on Windows to be a positive one.
Microsoft says a preview build of the new Chromium-based Edge will be available “in early 2019,” but was not quite ready to share an exact release date or timetable. We’ll share more details as Microsoft releases them.