After 20 years of backing Internet Explorer and its underlying software technologies, Microsoft has chosen to integrate Chromium, the open source version of Google Chrome. This announcement comes just three years after launching Microsoft Edge, the refreshed version of Internet Explorer.
“We intend to adopt the Chromium open source project in the development of Microsoft Edge on the desktop to create better web compatibility for our customers and less fragmentation of the web for all web developers,” said Joe Belfiore, corporate VP at Windows, in a blog post on 6 December.
The change affects the back-end elements of the browser that run in the background to make the web pages work for the user. The shift includes scrapping Microsoft’s EdgeHTML rendering engine in favour of Chrome’s Blink.
Utilising the Blink engine will allow Microsoft to support versions of new Edge on Windows 7, 8 and 10, as well as a version for macOS. Belfiore said that the company had also started contributing to the Chromium open source project: “We’ve begun making contributions to the Chromium project to help move browsing forward on new ARM-based Windows devices.”
Microsoft’s move to Chrome has shifted the “browser wars” in favour of Google Chrome, as Opera and Edge will now both be using Chrome’s rendering engine.
“If you’re a Microsoft Edge customer, there is nothing you need to do, as the Microsoft Edge you use today isn’t changing. If you are a web developer, we invite you to join our community by installing preview builds when they’re available and staying current on our testing and contributions.” said Belfiore.
Edge’s project manager, Kyle Alden, confirmed in a Reddit thread that Chrome extensions will be compatible with the new version of Edge. It is expected to launch in a preview build in early 2019.