23 years after the first version of Internet Explorer was released, Microsoft has given up developing its own web browser — sort of. After a few days of rumors and speculation, the company confirmed yesterday that Microsoft Edge is being rebuilt, and the new version will be based on Chromium (the open source version of Google Chrome).
Microsoft Edge on Windows currently uses the 'EdgeHTML' engine, which is a heavily-modified version of Internet Explorer's 'Trident' engine. When Edge was released for mobile devices last year, Microsoft made the Android version based on Chromium — like almost every other Android web browser. Now the Windows version will use Chrome's engine as well.
"Our intent is to align the Microsoft Edge web platform simultaneously (a) with web standards and (b) with other Chromium-based browsers," the company said in a blog post. "This will deliver improved compatibility for everyone and create a simpler test-matrix for web developers." The post also revealed that Edge will be open-source, and will eventually come to macOS — making it the first Microsoft browser for Mac since IE 5.2.
While it is interesting to see Microsoft now embrace the engine of the browser it has fought for 10+ years, losing the old Edge will likely be a net loss for users. Edge is notably light on battery life, especially compared to Chrome, and the updated version likely won't function much different from Chrome. I would have much preferred Microsoft team up with Mozilla to create a browser around the still-experimental Servo engine, which has the potential to run circles around Chrome.
- Windows Blog