Microsoft is bringing the new Chromium Edge browser to Mac

7 Dec 2018

Microsoft office in Switzerland. Image: photogearch/Depositphotos

It’s official: Microsoft Edge will be migrating to the open source Chromium platform.

Earlier this week, it was reported that Microsoft would be moving its premium browser to the open source Chromium platform. Today, the company confirmed that it is beginning to rebuild Edge to work on Chromium, which powers the world’s most popular browser, Google Chrome.

Essentially, the web rendering engine currently powering Edge (EdgeHTML) will no longer be used. The Blink and V8 JavaScript will be taking the reins, according to Joe Belfiore, corporate vice-president of Windows.

Improved compatibility

Belfiore said: “People using Microsoft Edge (and potentially other browsers) will experience improved compatibility with all websites, while getting the best-possible battery life and hardware integration on all kinds of Windows devices.” The Edge moniker and branding will remain the same, as the changes are more behind-the-scenes.

The tech giant’s attempt at a Chrome competitor never really gained traction and Edge never really attained a consistent enough user base. For the last number of years, web developers have been optimising for Chrome, and Microsoft Edge’s rendering engine has struggled to keep up with the rapid pace of innovation from the Chromium team.

Easier for developers

Belfiore noted that this decision will make it easier for developers, who “will have a less fragmented web platform to test their sites against, ensuring that there are fewer problems and increased satisfaction for users of their sites”.

He added: “Because we’ll continue to provide the Microsoft Edge service-driven understanding of legacy IE-only sites, corporate IT will have improved compatibility for both old and new web apps in the browser that comes with Windows.”

Microsoft comes to macOS?

He also said the company expects the change to enable it to “bring Microsoft Edge to other platforms like macOS”. No specific timeline for this has been outlined as of yet. A large volume of web developers test their work on Mac machines, so it makes sense for Microsoft to try and harness this market.

Microsoft is also decoupling Edge from being exclusive to Windows 10 and will be bringing it to Windows 7 and 8. The browser will become downloadable across all Windows operating systems that support it, and updates will likely come far more frequently than at present.

While some developers will be happy reading this news, the migration to Chromium is not without its critics. Chris Beard, CEO of Mozilla, said that the move “hands over control of even more of online life to Google”. He continued: “Microsoft’s decision gives Google more ability to single-handedly decide what possibilities are available to each one of us.”

Microsoft office in Switzerland. Image: photogearch/Depositphotos

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects