Microsoft edges towards Chrome browser



Microsoft edges towards Chrome browser 15th January 2019

A little-noticed change for Microsoft’s Edge browser could have significant implications and give Edge-browsers an increased usage in enterprises.

It was at the beginning of Whamageddon [1], and people were milling around in the busy streets if they were not browsing frantically around on different web shops, hoping to find presents for their loved ones, when Windows Central had a bit of a scoop [2].

However, the story on Windows Central was based on anonymous sources and people were distracted by buying and wrapping presents – maybe even avoiding to get Wham’d – so the story didn’t get as much attention as it deserved.

internal changes in the Edge browser will, according to Joe Belfiore, be a win for users, developers and corporate IT

A couple of days later, other technology sites followed up on the story, this time with official sources who could confirm the story from Windows Central [3].

Yes, Microsoft is rebuilding the Edge browser with some open source components wrote Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of Windows on his blog as a confirmation of the hitherto anonymously sourced story [4].

More specifically, Edge would in the future be Chromium-compatible promised Joe Belfiore. Chromium is the open-source browser which Google uses as the foundation for its own Chrome browser.

The announcement from Joe Belfiore means that, in the near future, Edge will use the open source rendering engine Blink [5] and the V8 javascript engine instead of Edge’s own rendering engine EdgeHTML.

This is all something that will happen under-the-hood of Edge, so the look-and-feel should remain the same, but the internal changes in the Edge browser will, according to Joe Belfiore, be a win for users, developers and corporate IT.

Easier for users, developers and IT departments

As Joe Belfiore wrote:

People using Microsoft Edge (and potentially other browsers) will experience improved compatibility with all websites, while getting the best possible battery life and hardware integration on all kinds of Windows devices. Web developers will have a less-fragmented web platform to test their sites against, ensuring that there are fewer problems and increased satisfaction for users of their sites; and because we’ll continue to provide the Microsoft Edge service-driven understanding of legacy IE-only sites, Corporate IT will have improved compatibility for both old and new web apps in the browser that comes with Windows.”

Pay attention to the last italicised word – corporate IT.

I predict the move from Microsoft will increase the use of Edge in the enterprise.

As part of the announcement, Joe Belfiore promised that Edge will be delivered and updated on all supported versions of Windows. This means that businesses with Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 10 can standardise on the new Edge browser – when it is ready. Even companies with a mixed Mac- and Windows-environment can decide to standardise on Edge as Microsoft also promises to bring Edge to the Mac.

Browser market

Microsoft’s decision to base Edge on Chromium-technology will inevitably make it easier for businesses to (re-?)introduce the Edge browser. A fact that Joe Belfiore does not mention is the Edge browser’s current abysmal market share. With Edge commanding a tiny single-figure percentage of the browser market compared to Chrome’s more than 60% [6], it is not a surprise that developers are testing and optimising websites for Chrome – and to a lesser extent Safari and Firefox.

Edge in the current incarnation is not on the radar. Given the big footprint other Microsoft technology has in most organisations, an Edge browser with rendering behaviour similar to Chrome will be interesting – and easy to support – for IT departments.

The alternatives

Not everyone agrees that Microsoft’s move is a good one. The Mozilla Foundation, which is behind the Firefox-browser, commented that Microsoft had given up and handed control over to Google [7]. Mozilla acknowledges that Microsoft’s decision viewed from a business perspective makes sense:

“From a business point of view, Microsoft’s decision may well make sense. Google is so close to almost complete control of the infrastructure of our online lives that it may not be profitable to continue to fight this.”

But Mozilla laments the situation where Google controls most of the internet infrastructure:

“From a social, civic and individual empowerment perspective ceding control of fundamental online infrastructure to a single company is terrible. This is why Mozilla exists. We compete with Google not because it’s a good business opportunity. We compete with Google because the health of the internet and online life depend on competition and choice.”

You can sign up as a beta-tester of the coming Edge at https://www.microsoftedgeinsider.com/en-us/. And, for the sake of diversity, you can download the latest Firefox at https://www.mozilla.org/en-GB/firefox/new/.

What are your thoughts? Please comment. To get updates on Curo Talent’s blog articles, reports and videos sign-up to the Curo Bulletin below.

LINKS

[1] Whamageddon – “Last Christmas” by Wham
[2] Microsoft is building a Chromium-powered web browser that will replace Edge on Windows 10
[3] Microsoft is rebuilding its Edge browser on Chrome and bringing it to the Mac
[4] Microsoft Edge: Making the web better through more open source collaboration
[5] The Chromium Projects
[6] Global market share held by leading desktop internet browsers from January 2015 to August 2018
[7] Goodbye, EdgeHTML

Dan Mygind

Author: Dan Mygind

Dan is a Journalist and Computer Scientist with a strong interest in technology, technology-related businesses, and the transforming effect source code can have on society.
He has worked for startups, SMEs and global IT-organisations such as IBM as a developer, consultant, and IT-architect. With a solid technology background, he has written extensively for a wide variety of publications such as Computerworld as well as writing technical white papers for Microsoft and other companies.
He is also a published author, ‘World Storytellers

Contact Dan Mygind: mygind{at}writeit{dot}dk

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the view and opinion of Curo Talent.

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