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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  • peevee - Tuesday, December 11, 2018 - link

    And long time ago.
  • Chaser - Friday, December 7, 2018 - link

    Well if you feel that way there is Opera, Vivaldi, Maxthon, and more.
  • stephenbrooks - Friday, December 7, 2018 - link

    Unfortunately Opera not an alternative as it also uses the Chromium rendering engine.
  • emilemil1 - Friday, December 7, 2018 - link

    Quite happy about this. Edge is modern compared to IE, but it still lags behind the competition when it comes to supporting new web standards (along with Safari). Hopefully this will improve the situation a bit and make development a little easier.
  • NesteaZen - Friday, December 7, 2018 - link

    Firefox got so much better since it went down the webextensions road. NOT
  • Dolda2000 - Friday, December 7, 2018 - link

    I agree with what you're saying, but it's also true that making Firefox multiprocess was very necessary, and I'm pretty sure that was the main reason why they changed the extension interface.
  • Zeratul56 - Friday, December 7, 2018 - link

    Although I am sad to see the distinct engine go. The things I most liked about it were the touch screen friendly interface and smooth scrolling. I hope these things are not going away.

    Overall though, the move is genius by Microsoft. They see control of the web slipping away from them in favor of Google. Google gets to dictate how the direction of certain web standards because of their market Share. Now, in almost a gorilla fashion Microsoft will regain control of the mass market web by contributing to the largest open source project. I don’t think Mricrosoft cares as much about browser market share as much as they just want to have a big seat at the table of web.
  • James5mith - Friday, December 7, 2018 - link

    Letting one company have all the power in web standards is how you get the guy who developed QUIC at Google also being the chair of the HTTP standards board, and pushing HTTP/3 to be UDP only, and not being backwards compatible.

    That's a terrible idea, but nobody can stop him.
  • HStewart - Friday, December 7, 2018 - link

    Also think of other benefits Microsoft has with this move

    1. They don't have to worry about actually coding the rendering engine, than can make suggestion to community

    2. But the biggest benefit is in area of security. Most of the virus and malware come from the internet scripting and such. With a major part of browser being open source, than virus that target Microsoft Internet browser for example go away - any web related security issue effects all of browsers and such. In a way it win-win situation for Microsoft - when people complain about virus on internet with Microsoft - the primary cause is not up Chromium open source group

    I also am curious off how far this is going to be - will Edge become shell wrapper around browser environment and just be in charge of actually physically showing content via output from Chromium Engine - in that case I would think touch support and smooth scrolling will be there.
  • Chugworth - Friday, December 7, 2018 - link

    Where they went wrong was by creating a closed source browser to compete with Chrome. They should have made an open source browser engine to compete with Chromium. That way it would have gotten ported to other platforms and more people would use it.

    I'd bet that even now after choosing to end EdgeHTML development, if they were to open source it then other developers would pick it up and it would continue on as the third serious browser engine.

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