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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  • 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.
    Reply
  • leo_sk - Friday, December 7, 2018 - link

    It would be better for web if they fork blink or webkit instead going hand to hand with google. Though there would be 3 different browser engines with similar roots, at least they can head to different directions without giving absolute monopoly to any one Reply
  • peevee - Tuesday, December 11, 2018 - link

    It would be better to have only one, as long as it is open sourced and free to fork (which still allows integration of changes from the parent branch). The best standard is de facto standard. Web development will be cheaper and produce higher quality results by concentrating all efforts on just one thing.

    As Mozilla financing dries up they will have to switch to Blink/V8 themselves to keep up.
    Reply
  • Barilla - Friday, December 7, 2018 - link

    I'm still not sure why Chrome gained popularity at such a rapid pace. At the time it was released it was much inferior to both Opera and Firefox. And yet, it's market share just kept climbing, while Firefox steadily declined and Opera remained fairly obscure. I still think Opera 12 (the last one based on Presto) was the best browser I've ever used, but unfortunately more and more websites started rendering poorly due to being optimized for Blink only, and after some times it was basically necessary to switch :( Reply
  • Tams80 - Friday, December 7, 2018 - link

    Google's vast resources and their pushing of their services.

    Lazy web developers didn't help, and I doubt they will make use of their 'new-found time' due to not having to test with other rendering engines.

    Opera 12 (Presto) was great. It's a real shame it's dead and that they didn't open source Presto when they decided to move to Blink.
    Reply
  • willis936 - Friday, December 7, 2018 - link

    I'm not so sure. Firefox was a dumpster fire when chrome was becoming popular. Firefox was the de facto choice through mid 2000s but it fell into a bad state and google capitalized. Opera always seemed nice but didn't have mass appeal. Mass appeal is what draws in extension creators, which is what made chrome popular. Reply
  • stephenbrooks - Friday, December 7, 2018 - link

    --[I'm still not sure why Chrome gained popularity at such a rapid pace.]--

    All the software whose installers came with a "Install Google Chrome!" option already checked by default. I bet they were getting kickbacks from Google for that.
    Reply
  • peevee - Tuesday, December 11, 2018 - link

    "I'm still not sure why Chrome gained popularity at such a rapid pace."

    Because every time you go to google.com in any other browser, it advertizes Chrome. And google.com is a monopoly in search and uses this monopoly power without shame.

    Plus a few innovative feature for its time, like multi-process rendering, and starting up from very mature and standards-compliant codebase of WebKit (unlike, say, Edge, which was released half-baked, and did not - and does not - support majority of even Windows installations and just had bad reputation afterwards).
    Reply
  • HStewart - Friday, December 7, 2018 - link

    One thing I am curious - how much change will the user actually see in this change. Only thing I can actual smaller renders of web pages on top of screen that is not in Chrome.

    Of course any thing that use latest updates for HTML that Chromium uses.
    Reply
  • PeachNCream - Friday, December 7, 2018 - link

    IIRC - Chromium core code doesn't contain the Chrome browser bits that keep Google posted on Reply

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