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Microsoft preps enterprises for 8-week ‘Extended Stable’ version of Edge

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Microsoft has begun prepping enterprises that may want to switch to an optional slower release cadence for the company’s Edge browser.

Earlier this year, Microsoft announced that Edge, which relies on the same core Chromium technologies as Google’s Chrome, would follow that rival in shortening the interval between releases to four weeks. (Prior to the announcement, Chrome and Edge updated every six to eight weeks.)

The first in the four-week cycle will be version 94 of both Chrome and Edge. Google plans to debut Chrome 94 on Sept. 21 with the follow-on v. 95 appearing Oct. 19. Meanwhile, Microsoft will launch Edge 94 on Sept. 23 and Edge 95 on Oct. 21. (Microsoft has gotten into the habit of releasing the same-numbered Edge two days after the comparable Chrome upgrade.)

Starting with version 94, Chrome and Edge will also offer what’s called an “Extended Stable” release that will use an eight-week interval rather than the default four. Obviously a sop to enterprise IT admins unhappy at the idea of a sped-up update tempo, Extended Stable releases will occur at every even-numbered version. The next Extended Stable releases will then be v. 96, v. 98 and so on for Edge (and Chrome).

By default, Edge will update automatically every four weeks. The eight-week interval is thus opt-in, with the opting requiring use of the as-yet-undocumented TargetChannel group policy on the part of admins, or alternately, Intune from the Microsoft Endpoint Manager.

(Organizations can also manually update Edge using Windows Server Update Services, or WSUS.)

Some details about how Microsoft (or Google, for that matter, since Edge and Chrome are connected at the hip) will keep Extended Stable secure are still cloudy.

Microsoft said last month that “important security patches and fixes will be delivered as needed independent of the selected release option,” which implied that security updates for Extended Stable will continue in their current no-schedule-here fashion. (Google has never patched Chrome on a set schedule, unlike, say, Microsoft and Internet Explorer or Mozilla and Firefox.)

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