Microsoft is building its own Chrome browser to replace Edge

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Microsoft is building its own Chromium browser to replace the default on Windows 10. The software giant first introduced its Edge browser three years ago, with a redesign to replace Internet Explorer and modernize the default browsing experience to compete with Chrome and others. While the modern look and feel has paid off for Edge, the underlying browser engine (EdgeHTML) has struggled to keep up with Chromium. Microsoft is finally giving up and moving its default Windows 10 browser to Chromium.

The Verge understands Microsoft will announce its plans for a Chromium browser as soon as this week, in an effort to improve web compatibility for Windows. Windows Central first reported on these plans, which are codenamed Anaheim internally. We understand there has been a growing frustration inside Microsoft at Edge’s web compatibility issues, and businesses and consumers have been pushing the company to improve things.

Microsoft Edge on Windows 10

Microsoft has only managed to go so far with EdgeHTML, though. Chrome is now the most popular browser across all devices, thanks to Android’s popularity and the rise of Chrome on PCs and Macs. Chrome has turned into the new IE6, and web developers have been favoring its rendering engine to optimize their sites. Google has also been creating Chrome-only web services, simply because its often the first to adopt emerging web technologies as its engineers contribute to many web standards.

Microsoft’s rendering engine has fallen behind as a result, and the company is finally ready to admit this. There were signs Microsoft was about to adopt Chromium onto Windows, as the company’s engineers have been working with Google to support a version of Chrome on an ARM-powered Windows operating system.

Adopting Chromium as the default rendering engine for Windows 10 will end Microsoft’s hostility towards Chrome. Microsoft has regularly pushed notifications to Windows 10 users to attempt to convince them not to use Chrome, and Microsoft pulled Google’s Chrome installer from the Windows Store, because it violated store policies. Those policies restrict rival store browsers to using Microsoft’s own Edge rendering engine.


And so the web monoculture has returned.
Safari uses Webkit and Chrome uses Blink which is a Webkit derivative?

So only Firefox remains as an alternative render engine. But this may be the step Microsoft needs to make their own version of Chromebooks.

It’s all about the PWAs.

The sad thing is… people still use IE11.

It’s even the only browser bundled with Windows Enterprise LTSC and Windows Server.

The good thing is… no new web apps support IE. And it’s becoming an increasing B2B requirement that systems support other evergreen browsers. I can’t wait for APNG’s to take gifs and memes to the next level.

I’ve thought about it, concerns for firefox are overblown. We shouldn’t confuse the DOM rendering engine with the Javascript engine in the browsers. Chrome uses v8, but Safari Doesn’t. Most serious bugs in modern PWA’s come from Javascript engine incompatibilities, even after whatever Edge uses goes away, there are 3 major ones in the wild, not counting IE’s Trident. Even the DOM engine has been honed down with CSS Grids and flexbox, making differences less significant.

I’m okay with a competitive triopoli, it actually means less work on my part and probably more higher quality PWA’s that work everywhere, without being locked into an app ecosystem like Windows Store, Play Store or Apple’s App Store.

Oh man, last week I had a support call from another department complaining that an internal web app I built didn’t work, come to fine out they were using IE 11, and apparently IE 11 didn’t find it worthwhile to support a big section of a 10 year old javascript spec. It was pretty horrifying that rudimentary JS support could be that bad on a browser released in the last decade.

The sad thing is… people still use IE11.

The real sad thing is that many MS tools only work properly in IE.

BUt wHO wouLD WAnT a BRowsEr fOR a cOmPUTer?

Real men use PCs where each app includes its own individual browser engine. Who needs battery life when you can flex on the poor fucks who can only run a single browser instance like sane humans?

Yes, I know there are a few examples of decent Electron apps.

Who hurt you?

fOR a cOmPUTer?

What’s a computer?

What’s a cOmPUTer?

Contrary to the nonsense started at Windows Central and repeated here, Chromium is not an engine. Chromium is a codebase.

WebKit is an engine. It consists of two parts – WebCore for rendering and JavaScriptCore whose meaning is obvious. It’s the formalized engine that was started by KDE and maintained by Apple as open source. Safari uses WebKit.

Chromium originally used WebKit and iOS use of Chromium still does.

Blink is a fork of WebCore. Its goals include cutting down on WebCore fragmentation and architectural improvements. Chromium uses it as does the Amazon Silk browser, Opera, and probably some others, including Chrome of course. The JavaScriptCore is replaced by V8.

Android replaced WebKit with WebView and its mobile browsers are free to use it as a common, underlying engine.

The Firefox engine – Gecko – is the only other popular engine out there and it’s completely independent of the others.

The "Microsoft Chromebooks-thing because of Chromium" is a meme making the rounds but the way that’s being explained is not how any of this works.

The shift to Chromium is driven by EdgeHTML failing to get features and performance consistently right, and no end in sight to the chaos. Windows users deserve better, Microsoft is smart to offer a browser that fits their operating system architecture, and they’re finally getting smart enough to stop reinventing the wheel. I would expect them to adopt Blink with Chromium but nothing I know of would prevent them from using WebCore, even though that would be completely silly. (Apple does it for legacy reasons. Microsoft would have no reason for the extra work in the wrong direction.)

Chrome OS is a different open source project from the Chromium open source browser. Microsoft could use it as a codebase but they’ve already got a suitable codebase to adapt if they want to go with a Chromebook-like product.

They would need their own working browser to compete with Chromebooks. Chromium can give them that and we know it works.

But Edge is a failure, and even if they never go after Chromebooks, the Chromium codebase is the smart play. Microsoft can make the new Edge as different from Chrome as Opera or Silk. Chromium is that flexible, everybody wins.

Remember, the takeaway is not just an engine for a monolithic web – it’s the adoption of a proven codebase that they can customize without breaking things. The better engine comes along with the package.

Remember, the takeaway is not just an engine for a monolithic web – it’s the adoption of a proven codebase that they can customize without breaking things. The better engine comes along with the package.

Does Microsoft being wedded to Chromium mean that the Google has a strategic advantage, or give it further ability to abuse its dominant position?

Chromium is open source (the permissive kind), so no. It is neither in Google’s nor Microsoft’s control, if they disagree on any source code changes they will simply each fork it for their own version.

Where are you getting the idea that Apple uses WebCore for "legacy reasons"? Google wanted to go in a different direction. Apple did not. Hence Google forked WebCore.

I did not say that – I said that Apple used WebKit with Chromium for legacy reasons – as opposed to using the newer version with Blink and other changes.

Apple does not use only Chromium but when they do, it’s with their WebKit – for legacy reasons.

MS should have chosen Firefox over Chromium. That would have been a decision in the right direction by throwing the weight of MS behind Mozilla and therefore giving it a tough competition against Chrome clones.

The way this is going, I see Firefox (so sad btw), which has comeback leaps and bounds with a thin and lean browser, go into oblivion in a couple of years or so. This so sucks.

Browsers like Tor chose FF for a reason instead of Chromium. Really bad decision by MS to go down the path of – if you can’t beat them, join them.

Mozilla is in the middle of rewriting their whole renderer in Rust. They arent really in a position to be a rival to Chromium right now. It is planned for the future though.

But the speed difference between Chrome and Firefox in real world is negligible.

I wonder if Microsoft’s new browser will use ChakraCore or if it’ll use V8.

Clearly the growth for MS is in cloud and being as platform agnostic as they can be is probably a part of that strategy. Sounds like a good way to optimize resources while also hopping on the web app platform of the future.

No one is writing good apps for Windows anymore, but if they can tap into that Android pool of developers without forcing them to rewrite major parts of their software this is just a small step along that path. Owning GitHub and LinkedIn probably gives them some decent metrics into what their developers are shifting towards.

I wonder if 5-6 years from now Windows will still be around for consumers (and instead be mostly restricted to enterprise/gaming platforms).

Windows wont go away, but will shrink. Even in enterprise I think we will see less of it. Where I work, we are rolling out thousands of virtualized desktops now with tiny zero clients at the endpoint. For now, those log in to a windows desktop, but there’s already talk of just virtualizing the applications. The underlying OS wont matter, just presenting the application. It could be Linux or whatever. Our storage is already all on Linux or some variant, the clients are running some version of Linux, many of the applications are running on AIX or Linux. VMWare hypervisor that hosts all our Windows servers is a version of Linux. Windows as an OS in enterprise is being whittled down on every front.

Windows as an OS in enterprise is being whittled down on every front.

Its been happening for years. You can shove applications in containers all you like, but the death of the desktop is highly overplayed.

By the time it comes something truly significant (10 years?), the diversification that Microsoft has already put in play will mean its not a commercial problem for the company.

Nobody mentioned the death of the desktop or commercial problems for MS. They’ll do fine as a non consumer facing company

They’ll do fine as a non consumer facing company

Becuase Xbox and Surface are on the way out and consumers will stop buying windows machines?

Thats not plausible in the short-medium term.

Yeah true about Xbox. Sales haven’t been great but it aint going anywhere.

Surface & Windows in general dont have a bright future though

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