Microsofts coming Chromium powered Ege Browser

Microsoft has made its Chromium-powered Edge browser available to developers and users from Early April 2019. Three levels of downloads are available on Microsoft’s new Edge insider site. In December 2018 Microsoft committed to overhauling the Edge browser using the solid and proven Chromium open source project as its base. Statistics from NetMarketShare, shows that Edge’s desktop market share currently sits at just 6.03% (June 2019), followed by Chrome with 65.5 percent.

Chromium-powered Edge browser downloads
Chromium powered Edge browser downloads

According to Microsoft, the swap to Chromium allow Edge do a better job of conforming to modern web standards. The change also means that one less browser is being ‘pushed’ outside of Google’s open-source project: Note that Mozilla’s Firefox and Apple’s Safari are still standing, and using their own solid and proven browser engines.

Downloading the Chromium Edge

The Canary and Development builds of the Chromium-powered Edge are only available for download as English 64-bit installations of Windows 10. Microsoft is planning to support Windows 8, Windows 7, and macOS in the future.

Chromium Edge support Windows 10, 8.1, 8,7 & macOS
Chromium Edge support Windows 10, 8.1, 8,7 & macOS

Once you have installed the Chromium based Edge browser, you are prompted to choose a new tab page style. If you do not want to be bombarded with news from MSN, or fancy images, choose the focused option.

Chromium Edge choose new Tab Style
Chromium Edge choose new Tab Style

When started, the Chromium Edge browser will ask if you wish to import data such as favourites, auto-fill information, and history from Chrome.

Microsoft has focused on the fundamentals of browsing, reliability, and extension support for this early version of Edge built on Chromium, and the company is looking for feedback about the basics to start. Encouragingly, this new Edge browser runs surprisingly well, with full support for existing Chrome extensions. Microsoft is even building in sync support for things like favourites, browsing history, and extensions to sync across Edge.

The Chromium Edge Build Process

Microsoft Chromium Edge Builds
Microsoft Chromium Edge Builds

Both Microsoft and Google engineers have been working together to improve the underlying Chromium project so that Chrome and Edge run better on Windows. Microsoft has had around 150 commits accepted into Chromium, paving the way for improvements to Edge and Chromium on Windows 10. That includes improving accessibility, smooth scrolling support, Windows Hello integration, and things like ensuring the touch keyboard shows up reliably.

“We’re working directly with the teams at Google and the broader Chromium community on this work and appreciate the collaborative and open discussions,” explains Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president at Microsoft. “These contributions represent work-in-progress and are not yet fully represented in the browser you can install today, so stay tuned.”

Microsoft’s new Chromium-powered Edge browser

History: Microsoft had tried to reclaim some of its browser power by stripping away the legacy technology remained with Internet Explorer and by releasing the early Windows 10 modernized Edge instead. But it never caught on widely, and in December 2018, Microsoft announced a plan to rebuild Edge on Chromium, the open-source base of the Chrome Engine.

The Browser Competition – Future

Chromium is an open-source browser implementation that is used as a base by a number of browser developers, including Google (with its proprietary Chrome browser), Brave, Vivaldi, Opera, Yandex and Samsung Internet. Using Google’s software gives access to a mature and frequently updated software project while ensuring websites aren’t likely to suffer from incompatibility problems.

This does mean that Google Chrome Engine will dominate the browser market. Simultaneous with the launch of Chrome in 2008, Google released the bulk of Chrome’s code as open source, birthing Chromium in the process.

By default, Chromium-based Edge sends search traffic to Microsoft’s own Bing search engine, not to Google’s [very] dominant search engine service. However, you can add other search engines if you wish.

Microsoft Edge improvements to Chromium

Chromium Edge changes

For now, the Chromium-based Edge is almost a parallel of Google’s code. But Microsoft plans to change that with contributions of its own, a potentially important shift in the dynamics of the Chromium community. So far, Microsoft have contributed 275 changes to the Chromium project, according to Microsoft’s Edge team blog posts.

Chromium-based Microsoft Edge offers to show new tabs with a scenic background, though barer-bones options are available. If you don’t import earlier browsing data, it comes with tabs for Microsoft Office and Facebook.

Microsoft also plans Chromium improvements in for touch-screen interfaces, video chat, graphics acceleration and accessibility — an important technology for people with vision or other disabilities.

The Chromium-based Edge builds available now change rapidly — daily for the Canary version and weekly for the Developer version. Later will come Beta and Stable releases that should be more reliable. Those names follow Chrome’s labeling conventions. The Canary name refers to the canary-in-the-coal-mine idea for keeping a constant eye on whether something is going wrong.

Microsoft’s new Edge made of Chromium (Hands-on Video)

Is the new Chromium Edge browser ready?

Users who have tested the new browser builds have stated that browser performs really well when browsing the web and that it is more than ready for public preview.

Unsurprisingly, Microsoft will offer its own add-on browser extension store, but with the flip of a switch in the settings, you can install and use extensions from third-party marketplaces, meaning the Chrome Web Store. Extension developers who want to add their tools to the Microsoft marketplace can basically take their existing Chrome extensions and use those.

For better or worse, Chrome has become the default and Microsoft is going with the flow. The company could have opted to open source EdgeHTML and all of its JavaScript engine (some parts already are open source).

Microsoft’s promise, of course, is that it will also bring the new Edge to Windows 7 and Windows 8, as well as the Mac.

Notes: The latest Win10 1903 build from MSDN contain the old Edge (currently).

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