Once upon a time, Internet Explorer ruled the World Wide Web. As time went on, IE languished and was knocked off its perch by Firefox and Google Chrome. Then Microsoft fought back with a new browser called Edge.
Edge was new inside and out, built to provide the best browsing experience on Windows 10. That was three years ago. Today, despite the fact that it’s an excellent browser, Edge is still struggling to draw much of a crowd.
Clearly Microsoft decided that it was time for a dramatic shift in strategy. The company has announced that it’s going to completely overhaul Edge. To do that, Microsoft will be building it around the same code that drives Google Chrome.
In a blog post today, Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore announced that future versions of Edge will be based on the Chromium open source project. Chromium is the biggest thing in web browsing today. It supplies the core not just to Google Chrome, but also Opera, Vivaldi, and scores of other desktop and mobile browsers.
This is kind of a big deal. Chromium is an open source project and it’s not just Google engineers who contribute code. It is, however, a project that was created by Google and Googlers still contribute the vast majority of code.
So why would Microsoft turn to software that one of its competitors created and help develop? Belfiore touched on a number of reasons Microsoft is making the switch in his post. He touches on improved compatibility, more frequent updates, and the ability to bring Edge to more platforms (like Mac OS).
Probably the biggest benefit that Belfiore didn’t touch on is that the change should reduce the amount of effort Microsoft needs to devote to browser development. Instead of toiling away at bugs and issues that affect only its own browser, Microsoft can rely on the existing Chromium community for of that work — and devote its resources to building exiting, unique features and offering the best experience possible to Edge users.
Microsoft has already put out the call to web designers, coders, and testers who want to help fine tune the all-new Edge browser. The first preview build will be released early next year, so we may not see it until later on when a Windows 10 feature update arrives.