Microsoft Edge goes Chromium on Windows and macOS

June 19th 2019: Microsoft make preview builds from the Microsoft Edge Canary channel available on Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1 and macOS. This Edge Canary channel allows both developers and users to try out the next version of Microsoft Edge (Chromium) on every major desktop platform (except Linux).

Visit the Microsoft Edge Insider site from any Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 device to download and install the Edge Canary preview today! Microsoft announce that a Microsoft Edge Dev channel will soon be coming to previous versions of Windows.

For your convenience here are the download links:

Microsoft Edge + open source software (OSS): a new emphasis for Microsoft

Back in December 2018, Microsoft announced the intention to adopt the Chromium open source project in the development of Microsoft Edge on the desktop to create better web compatibility for their customers and less fragmentation of the web for all web developers.

Microsoft embraces Chromium
Microsoft embraces Chromium

EdgeHTML is dead!

Over the coming year Microsoft are making a technology change “under the hood” for Microsoft Edge. Basically, it is about a move to a Chromium-compatible web platform for Microsoft Edge on the desktop. The intention is to deliver improved compatibility for everyone and create a simpler test-matrix for web developers. The original EdgeHTML engine (discontinued) will be retained only for embedded Web views within Windows apps.

Microsoft has made the move to using Google’s Blink rendering engine and V8 JavaScript engine in its new Chromium Edge browser releases, thus largely ending development of their own EdgeHTML rendering engine and Chakra JavaScript engine. The new browser will still be known as Edge (Chromium) and it will basically retain the current look and feel.

The switch is motivated by the compatibility problems for Web developers who increasingly test their work exclusively in Google Chrome. Switching to the Google Blink is seen as an easy way to break the Windows 10 dependence on it’s original EdgeHTML engine, and thus decouple the Chromium Edge from Windows 10 release cycles. Thus, Microsoft can also make the new Chromium Edge releases available on Windows 7 and macOS.

macOS and Chromium Edge: the first Microsoft Edge preview builds for macOS

Microsoft have bought this Edge Canary to macOS as well thus improving the future for the Chromium project as a whole.

The current macOS Edge Canary release enables “dark mode”, which means your browser tabs, address bar, toolbar, menus, and other elements will use dark colors if you have set macOS theme to “Dark Mode”.

Microsoft Edge Chromium on macOS
Microsoft Edge Chromium on macOS

Microsoft Edge for macOS offers the same new browsing experience as on Windows along with user experience optimizations to make Edle more at home on a Mac. Examples of this include a number of tweaks to match macOS conventions for fonts, menus, keyboard shortcuts, title casing, and other areas.

Windows 7 and Chromium based Edge

Microsoft can now offer nearly an identical Edge Chromium experience and features set on Windows 7 as that offered on Windows 10.

The Microsoft Edge team wrote this in a blog post:

Delivering the next version of Microsoft Edge to all supported versions of Windows is part of our goal to improve the web browsing experience for our customers on every device, and to empower developers to build great experiences with less fragmentation.

Microsoft Edge team Blog Post

The coming full release of the Edge Chromium based browser on both Windows 7 and Windows 8.x is likely a important move for the large number of offices and enterprises that are still based on older Windows with the now out-dated Internet Explorer.

A consistent Chromium platform and tools

By switching to a Chromium foundation, Microsoft are offering a consistent rendering experience across the Windows and macOS versions of Microsoft Edge, as well as the same developer tools you’ll find on Windows.

The Microsoft Edge (Chromium) Developer Tools are exactly like the Chrome developer tools. In fact, Microft have made a couple changes you can check out What’s new in the Microsoft Edge (Chromium) DevTools.

Chromium Edge Developer Tools
Chromium Edge Developer Tools

For the first time, web developers can now test sites and web apps in Microsoft Edge on macOS and be confident that those experiences will bridge across all platforms.

Chromium Edge Developer Tools Menu
Chromium Edge Developer Tools Menu

Chromium based Edge Updates

Microsoft intends to rapidly incorporate updates made to the Chromium code, build Edge, and then distribute it through Windows Update. Delays in the release creates potential security gaps, where perhaps a discovered flaw is fixed in Chrome Chromium but is [still] pending for its Edge counter-part. Designing and improving this Microsoft development process is still a work in progress. At this time it is unknown if Microsoft will adopt Google Chrome’s multiple development channels policy.

Enable Chromecast support in Chromium Edge

Google Chromecast Devices
Google Chromecast Devices

The ability to Chromecast to your smart TV is by default disabled, however it is very easy to enable full Chromecast support in Chromium Edge by changing two flags.

Open Chromium Edge and type the following into the browser top URL bar:

edge://flags

This will open a page with various Chrome browser flags in view. Now use the search bar and look for the following flag:

#load-media-router-component-extension

Open the drop-down next to the above flag, and select the Enabled option. Next, look for the following Chrome flag:

#views-cast-dialog

Open the drop-down next to the above flag and select Disabled from the menu. After changing the value of both flags, re-launch Edge and you can now start casting to the Chromecast device.

Chromium Edge Flags for Chromecasting
Chromium Edge Flags for Chromecasting

Casting from Edge

In Chromium Edge, click the more options button at the top right and from the menu go to More tools>Cast to device. You will see the Chromecast icon appear next to the URL bar and a pop-up will open. Select your device from the pop-up and you will be able to cast the tab from it.

Chromium Edge selecting Chromecast
Chromium Edge selecting Chromecast
Chromecasting to Smart TV in Chromium Edge
Chromecasting to Smart TV in Chromium Edge

Enabling 4k streams in Chromium Edge

The Chromium-based Microsoft Edge browser now supports WideVine and PlayReady, and thus supports 4K Netflix streams. As this browser is still in active development you need to unlock HD and 4K streams by changing two Chrome flags.

Required: You will first need to install the (free) HEVC Video Extensions from the Microsoft Store.

Open Chromium Edge and type the following into the browser top URL bar:

edge://flags

Now search for “Windows 10” in the flags page.

Enable the flag “PlayReady DRM for Windows 10“.

Enable the flag “PlayReady Experimental HEVC Decoding“.

Reload Chromium Edge to use the 4K feature.

Chromium Edge enable 4K Streaming
Chromium Edge enable 4K Streaming

Note: Microsoft state that this 4k streaming feature is only available on the Windows 10 Chromium Edge.

Sharing your feedback

Microsoft want your feedback on the Microsoft Edge Canary. You can use the Microsoft Edge Insider community forums, or get in touch with Microsoft on Twitter.

Microsoft want feedback on Edge Chromium
Microsoft want feedback on Edge Chromium

You can also simply use the “Send feedback” option in the Microsoft Edge menu to let Microsoft know what you think.

Feedback inside Edge Chromium
Feedback inside Edge Chromium