Microsoft could replace Edge with a Chrome-based browser

4 Dec 2018

Microsoft office building. Image: hansenn/Depositphotos

Microsoft looks set to shift to a Chromium-based browser in Windows 10.

In 2015, Microsoft debuted its premium web browser, Edge. The browser was built with a brand new rendering engine, EdgeHTML. While it promised speed, security and lightness, many issues with it meant it never really took off with users.

Originally designed as a replacement for Internet Explorer, Edge does have a modern look and feel. The main complaints from users stemmed from the underlying browser engine (EdgeHTML) being unable to keep up with the equivalent provided by Chromium.

What is the fate of Microsoft Edge?

According to a report from Windows Central, Microsoft is moving its default Windows 10 internet browser to Blink, a web rendering engine developed as part of the Chromium project. The plans are codenamed Anaheim, and growing frustration about Edge’s compatibility issues from staff, businesses and consumers has apparently been the catalyst for the decision.

Google Chrome is the most popular browser across all devices, due to the popularity of Android and the ubiquity of Chrome on Macs and PCs. For some time now, web developers have been using Chrome’s rendering engine (Chromium) to optimise their websites.

Using the Chromium rendering engine could help avoid the instability and performance issues that plagued Edge. Web developers would also no longer have to consider how their pages would look on Microsoft’s default browser, as they should behave relatively the same as Chrome browser pages. At this point, it is not clear if Microsoft will be using the Edge branding or user interface with the Chrome-based browser.

Speculation abounds

Windows Central also noted that Microsoft engineers were recently spotted committing code to the Chromium project to help get Chrome to run on ARM. 9to5Google speculates that the project came from a desire for Microsoft to bring its Visual Studio code editor to these machines natively, as the editor is based on Electron, which requires Chrome.

Analysts expect that the Anaheim project will be introduced throughout the first half of the 2019 development cycle.

Integrations with Chrome have already happened. When the company released its Edge browser for Android, it also shared that it was built on the Blink browser engine. This decision allowed Microsoft to include features such as built-in ad blocking.

Chris Duckett at ZDNet warned that the web needs alternate rendering engines to stop firms from controlling the web and creating monopolies. He added that Chrome could be on track to become the new Internet Explorer 6 (IE6), which was able to achieve an overwhelming market share at the height of its reign. It was also widely criticised for its security issues, and Microsoft itself urged users to stop using IE6 in 2011.

Microsoft office building. Image: hansenn/Depositphotos

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