Microsoft Edge, the web browser that replaced Internet Explorer with the release of Windows 10, has been given a dramatic overhaul in the last year or so to be rebuilt on the same Chromium source code that Google Chrome is based on. Today, the new version of Microsoft Edge, based on Google’s Chromium, has been officially launched on Windows and macOS.
Late in 2018, Microsoft confirmed rumors that the company was rebuilding its Edge browser on Chromium, the open source base for Google Chrome. At the time, the reason given was for Edge to be able to offer “improved compatibility” over the existing EdgeHTML browser engine. The announcement put Microsoft Edge in league with other Chromium-based browsers like Vivaldi and Brave.
After over a year of development work and public beta tests, Microsoft, via The Verge, is formally launching the new Microsoft Edge based on Chromium. While Microsoft Edge, in its original form, was originally exclusive to Windows 10, rebuilding on Chromium has helped open the browser to more platforms. Today, you can download Microsoft Edge for macOS and all current versions of Windows.
Even a version for Windows 7 is available, despite the fact that Windows 7 reached End of Life earlier this week. No doubt, this is thanks to Google’s own commitment to support Google Chrome on Windows 7 until July 2021.
These additional desktop platforms follow the work already done to bring Microsoft Edge to Android and iOS. On those platforms, Edge uses the platform’s preferred/required browser engine with a layer of additional Microsoft features like sync.
If for whatever reason, you’re a fan of Chrome but not Google, Microsoft Edge may be the browser for you. The two browsers have a great deal in common including the ability to sync your browsing history and more between devices. One key difference is that you’re trusting Microsoft with that information instead of Google.
The similarities even run deeper than that, with the new Microsoft Edge being able to use nearly all of the same extensions that Google Chrome can use. Unfortunately, that also means that Microsoft Edge will be affected by the upcoming controversial changes to how Chrome extensions can and cannot work, collectively known as Manifest V3.
Where Edge sets itself apart from Chrome is in its built-in tracking protections that help you maintain privacy by default and handy features like Collections that let you handily organize images and pages from the web.
As of today, Edge is an optional program you can choose to download and install, just like any other alternative browser like Chrome or Firefox. What will give Microsoft’s new browser some stopping power is when the new Edge becomes the default built-in browser for Windows 10.
Verge notes that OEMs have already been given the new Edge, meaning new Windows 10 devices should begin appearing with Edge pre-installed. By giving users a competent cross-platform browser out of the box, there’s a chance people may no longer feel the need to immediately install Chrome, as the jokes go.
Additionally, over the next few months, Microsoft will slowly push this new version of Edge to Windows 10 users via Windows Update. This rollout will happen in gradual stages until a full, wider release happens in the summer.
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