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You Will Now Be Able To Use Edge On Chrome & Macs As Well As Older Windows Versions

In December 2018, Microsoft announced some significant changes to its Edge Browser. They’ve rebuilt it to run on Chromium–the engine that powers Google’s Chrome browser. Read on to find out what this means.

This is a big move because it means that Microsoft is finally joining the open-source community in a much bigger way for the Web. Plus, this ends a 21-year legacy of Microsoft developing its own engines. And, they’re bringing Edge to Windows 7, Windows 8 and even the Mac.

It’s expected that Windows 10 will move to this Chromium-based version of Edge sometime this year,

Why Did Microsoft Make This Big Change?

Microsoft Edge replaced Internet Explorer 11 and Internet Explorer Mobile. It’s now the default web browser on Windows 10, Windows 10 Mobile. But, Edge has fallen massively behind Chrome in terms of market share.

This was because there were problems with the original Edge Browser:

  • Microsoft made a series of strategic mistakes with the original EdgeHTML. It could only run on Windows 10 and users wanted more.
  • Developers were optimizing for Chrome, not Edge. According to ZDNet, even as the Windows 10 installed base continued to climb, traffic from Microsoft Edge dropped.
  • The usage share for Microsoft Edge has been steadily declining and dropped from 20.3 percent in the second quarter of 2017 to 19.4 percent in the first three months of 2018. And the decline was continuing even after Edge added features and improved in reliability and security.
  • Edge wasn’t an option for 15 percent of desktop devices running non-Windows operating systems (mostly MacOS), nor for the 40 percent of desktops running versions older than Windows 10, further reducing their market share. Microsoft Edge was drastically falling behind Chromium.
  • A number of small compatibility issues have plagued Edge users. This move to Chromium will immediately solve web compatibility issues. It will now align with Chrome and other browsers that also use Blink.

What’s Changing With Edge?

Microsoft has rebuilt the Edge Browser from the ground up. They ripped apart the proprietary EdgeHTML rendering engine and replaced it with the open-source Chromium code base.

Microsoft Edge isn’t going away, nor is its branding. Edge will continue to use the same branding but behind this is a new browser using the Chromium open-source project code. And, the availability of the new Edge on Macs will make it easier for web developers to test their sites on it.

If you already use Edge on Windows, then this won’t change either. All you’ll ultimately notice is that websites will render more consistently once Microsoft makes this under-the-hood change. And you’ll be able to use it now on Windows 7 and 8. But, remember that all support for Windows 7 will end on January 14, 2020.

The biggest bonus for the new Edge browser will be privacy. They are building a browser that is 100 percent compatible with Chrome. This means you won’t have to sign into Google services to use it. Now that the Google’s and Facebook’s of the world are being hit with privacy suits, this is a winning plan for Microsoft.

There Will Still Be Issues To Overcome

The problems will still be with the availability of extensions. ZDNet reports that the engineering goal is to make it possible for any existing Chrome extension to work unmodified on the new Edge. But the problem is that developers will still have to package those extensions for the Microsoft Store and some (not likely many) will probably decide it’s not worth doing.

The Really Good News

Microsoft is moving forward to make their browser better and the Web better for everyone. Plus, the browser engine that powers Chrome will work better on Windows with Microsoft’s help.

Both Edge and Chrome on Windows will improve in touch performance, accessibility, and support for Advanced RISC Machine (ARM)-based versions of Windows. Microsoft has been working closely with Google on this.

Edge will be a downloadable executable across all supported versions of Windows. What this means is that Microsoft will be able to update it more frequently than before. Perhaps not monthly, but at least it won’t be tied to every major Windows 10 update any longer.

And, even if Microsoft doesn’t gain market share with the new Edge Browser, they are providing benefits for the Web community as a whole. They want to collaborate with Apple, Google, and all other developers who wish to contribute to Chromium. They are inviting the open-source community that develops browsers to collaborate with them. This is not only good for developers but good for users. If some of Edge’s innovations make it into other browsers, Google Chrome and everyone will win.

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