Home Browsers FAQ: Microsoft’s new Edge explained

FAQ: Microsoft’s new Edge explained

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More than a year after Microsoft waved the white flag, saying it would scrap Edge’s rendering engine and replace it with Blink, the engine that powers Google’s Chrome, the company has now delivered its reborn browser to the public.

Kudos, then.

But the result? That’s still up for grabs. Although there was little downside to the radical shift to Chromium — Internet Explorer had long been on legacy life support and Edge was at a near-death 4% user share — it’s vastly unclear whether the switch to Chromium will save Microsoft’s browser bacon.

(It may be just as unclear a year from now, for even though Edge now boasts a share of nearly 7%, much of that growth stemmed from Windows 10’s gains, not the browser’s. We’ll be keeping tabs on Edge’s share over the coming year.)

Microsoft is hoping to snap up some new users by getting those now running Chrome on Windows to reconsider. We’ll see how that works out. But now that Edge has gone live, it’s time to answer important questions about the world’s newest browser remodel.

Why did Microsoft replace its own technologies in Edge with Chromium?

Microsoft’s sticking to its original answer. “A little over a year ago, we announced our intention to rebuild Microsoft Edge on the Chromium open source project with the goals of delivering better compatibility for everyone, less fragmentation for web developers, and a partnership with the Chromium community to improve the Chromium engine itself,” Joe Belfiore, the top Windows executive, wrote in a Jan. 15 post to a company blog.

More than a year ago, when Belfiore announced the revamp, he cited the same three altruistic motivations.

Although there’s no evidence that Microsoft wasn’t sincere, Belfiore’s trio certainly weren’t the only reasons. It’s just as likely that Edge’s dismal adoption rate — used on just 10% of all Windows 10 PCs when he declared the decision, 12% in December 2019 — and Chrome’s overwhelming lead (67% of all personal computer-based browsing last month) were why Edge went Chromium. Other justifications may have included an expected decrease in Microsoft’s engineering head count, increased revenue from Bing if Edge’s share expands (Belfiore mentioned Bing on Wednesday) and a faster release cycle than the company could produce on its own.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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