Earlier this week, it was reported that Microsoft would be basing their next browser on the same Chromium base used by Google Chrome. Today, Microsoft has stepped in to clarify that Edge, the Windows 10 default browser is not being replaced, but rewritten, with a Chromium base. The company also shared what this means both for users and for the company themselves.
In a new blog post, Microsoft has confirmed that Edge will no longer be using EdgeHTML, but will switch to be strongly based on Google’s Chromium. The news comes as a shock, considering Microsoft at one point warned users against installing third-party browsers like Chrome. As for why they would make such a large scale change, Microsoft offered its amiable goals for the project.
The most important, of course, is to make Edge more compatible with the web at large. Chrome is (for better or worse) the predominant browser today, having a much larger market share than Firefox or Edge. This is further skewed by its widespread usage on mobile. Many web developers work with Chrome in mind, with some applications outright requiring Chrome.
By re-basing Edge on Chromium, Microsoft is taking a shortcut to web compatibility, and Edge should no longer need special consideration from web developers. Thankfully, Microsoft does not intend to simply leech the benefits of Google’s work on Chromium.
Going forward, Microsoft aims to become a “significant contributor” to the Chromium project, contributing changes that should make Chromium (and thus Google Chrome) better on Windows. The company offered a few example, including directly acknowledging the Windows 10 on ARM commits we found in Chromium last month.
A few near-term examples will include continued work on ARM64 support, web accessibility, and taking advantage of other hardware features like touch support.
Lastly, the Chromium-based nature of the new Microsoft Edge should allow the browser to have a more frequent update cycle, and possibly even bring Edge to other platforms. Microsoft specifically mentions the possibility of bringing Edge to macOS.
Update: Since the announcement, Microsoft has opened a new source repository for Edge on GitHub (which they recently acquired), further detailing the company’s plans for Edge and the open source community.