Headed towards the Open Edge

Headed towards the Open Edge

Recently Microsoft made a huge announcement regarding its built-in browser in Windows 10. No not Internet Explorer, the other, younger more attractive one: Edge. The browser we know as Edge is changing in a fairly significant way, especially under the hood. In a blog post on December 6thMicrosoft’s Joe Belfiore confirmed rumors that Edge is changing its code to use the Chromium rendering engine. Previously Edge was entirely built in-house using its own rendering engine, EdgeHTML which is itself a fork of the Trident rendering engine from Internet Explorer.

But what does this mean?

The rendering engine is an “under-the-hood” component of the browser. Its like the motor in your car—enthusiasts care about the specs (I mean who doesn’t love a V8) but the majority of consumers just want a car that runs. In this case web developers are having to ensure their sites run with the various engines out there (think Apple WebKit, EdgeHTML, Chromium Blink, Firefox Quantum). Edge has the smallest slice of all of those. In fact in a previous post a while ago I noted how I had wanted to use Edge as my daily driver but it just wasn’t ready yet. Yes that post is a couple years old, and Edge has improved but I still use and recommendFireFox for any power users.

With Edge using Chromium under-the-hood it allows one less engine that developers have to target. Chromium is open source (more on that in a minute) and is very much a standards-based browser. The add-on ecosystem is huge compared to that of the add-ons available for Edge. Users should be able to use any Chrome Extensions with Edge once this is fully live in 2019. Microsoft will also be contributing to the Chromium project in order to advance the platform and have some input into that process.

But isn’t Chromium just Google Chrome?

Yes and no. Chromium is the open source platform that Chrome is based on. Chromium was started by Google and is headed by Google developers but it is an open-source project and receives input from the community. Google adds its services and features on top of the Chromium browser which is designed as lightweight and minimalist. Many other browsers use Chromium under-the-hood including Brave (a new privacy-based browser I have been testing recently), Opera, Samsung Internet, and Vivaldi to name a few. You don’t have to use Google or like Google to use a Chromium-based browser.

Initially I was shocked by this announcement and the implications of it both professionally and at home. Since then I have had time to process, learn more, and look at it from a fresh perspective. At work we are just now launching Windows 10 with Edge as our default browser- this won’t change that. It may actually improve it because several of our 3rdparty vendors “require” Chrome and so I won’t need to install it on my users’desktops. Microsoft will more than likely keep the interface very, very similar so it won’t be a huge shock to our end-users. At home I still use Firefox, and as mentioned earlier I have been already testing Brave which is a Chromium based browser. I use Edge already on my Android phone (which Microsoft built using the Chromium browser on Android). So I really don’t see anything changing there. In fact their implementation on Android is awesome, it’s better than Chrome in my opinion.

It will be interesting to see the first beta of this when it rolls out in early 2019. Stay tuned.

Chris Gahlsdorf

I have been a System Administrator for 15 years now. I have been an avid Microsoft fan for over 20. From my first 486 with Windows 3.0 to my latest custom rig with Windows 11. I have gone from tinkering, to programming, to managing servers, and virtualization. I am a Windows Insider MVP as part of the Windows Insider Program.

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4 Responses

  1. Teediggs says:

    I had no idea Chromium was underneath so many browsers! Nor have I heard of Brave. I wanted to check out Edge a while back, I’ll have take a test drive of a few of these in 2019 I’m thinking….

  1. April 9, 2019

    […] released the first public builds of its new Edge browser. And boy was it worth it. As I wrote in Headed Towards The Open Edge, last year Microsoft announced that they would be moving to a Chromium-based browser to focus their […]

  2. November 11, 2019

    […] I have written before, Edge is a really exciting release and is based on the Google Chromium project (of which […]

  3. January 16, 2020

    […] months of testing and a year after the initial announcement; Microsoft has released the new Edge Browser to all supported systems in the […]

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