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Microsoft mirrors Google move, shelves Edge upgrades

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Microsoft last week followed Google’s lead, telling customers that it was suspending releases of its Edge browser.

Citing “current global circumstances” rather than outright naming the COVID-19 pandemic and its upturning of, well, virtually everything, Microsoft said it would not upgrade the current Edge 80 to the next version, Edge 81.

“As the situation evolves,” Microsoft said, it will inform customers of other changes, and presumably when it will resume Edge refreshes, through the Microsoft Edge Dev account on Twitter.

Google made a similar announcement March 18, telling Chrome users it had stopped upgrading the browser a day after it was due to shift from version 80 to 81.

Google didn’t say COVID-19 triggered the decision either, asserting that the “adjusted work schedule” was to blame. Both decisions were, of course, clearly caused by the pandemic and its disruptions, including vast numbers of company employees sent home to work there.

(In a tweet, Paul Kinlan, the lead for the developer relations team at Google, ticked off several specific reasons for the suspension, including “lower productivity, worry about asking ecosystem to change, being able to respond quickly when there’s an issue.”)

It wasn’t a surprise that Microsoft followed Google in halting browser upgrades. Both Chrome and Edge, after all, rely on the Google-led open-source Chromium project for their core technologies. “We are making this change to be consistent with the Chromium project, which recently announced a similar pause due to adjusted schedules,” wrote Kyle Pflug, principal program management lead, in the Friday post.

Like Google, Microsoft told users that it will continue to service version 80 of its browser with security updates. The Redmond, Wash. company did just that Thursday, when it refreshed Edge to build 80.0.3987.149; that build included fixes for the same vulnerabilities cited by Google when it patched Chrome 80 the day before.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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