Yesterday, Microsoft released the first public preview builds of its new Chromium-powered version of Edge. And it was positively received. Microsoft Edge hasn't really received this kind of positive press coverage before, ever, with people online calling it faster than Chrome, and incredibly stable for "pre-release" software. The Chromium engine brings with it more than just better web performance; it includes the stability and security of a platform that's been in the works with the open-source community for more than a decade.
When the new Edge browser leaked a couple of weeks ago, a few people tried it out, but otherwise, no one outside of the Microsoft sphere really cared. I even wrote a piece suggesting that this version of Edge might finally compete with Chrome. Today, now that Microsoft has shipped preview builds publicly, a lot more people are interested, and these initial previews are nothing to scoff at. I've seen plenty of tweets online from people saying that they've switched from Chrome or even outright uninstalled it to use the pre-release version of Edge as their primary browser.
Of course, it's still early days, so it's not a definitive "win" for Edge just yet. Chrome is the dominant browser, and it likely will be for years. However, the new Edge is already proving itself to be a real contender, because it really is just like Chrome, but if Microsoft had made it instead of Google. Brand loyalty exists, but I don't think brand loyalty is what got Chrome popular. I think it got popular because people were told it's the best, and not because they prefer Google over Microsoft.
Chrome bundled with Windows 10
For a lot of people, the fewer programs they must download every time they set up a PC for the first time, the better. If Windows 10 came with Chrome preinstalled, the world would cry out in cheer. Well, that's precisely what's happening now that Edge is built on Chromium. Microsoft is essentially bundling a Chrome browser with Windows 10, except without all the Google stuff. Of course, if you're tied into the Google ecosystem, it makes sense to continue using Chrome, but if not, there's little reason not to use Edge instead.
And it's not like the new Edge is just "Chrome in disguise," either, because Microsoft is making some real changes to the browser to differentiate the user experience. Web performance and browser stability should be the same across Edge and Chrome, but Microsoft is working to differentiate Edge with surface-level features and unique selling points. Microsoft has already named several Chromium-related things that it's thrown out for Edge, because it either doesn't need them or plans to rebuild them with a Microsoft twist.
The other advantage is that since Microsoft owns Windows 10, arguably the most popular desktop platform around, Microsoft can tie the new Edge into the OS in many more ways. That could be done in big ways, like bundling it as the default browser, and in smaller ways that users might not necessarily even realize, like having the browser only communicate with Microsoft services and not Google.
Your thoughts on the new Edge vs. Chrome
I am genuinely curious what people think about the outlook of the modern "browser wars." Can Microsoft really take back the crown from Google? I think it can, at least when it comes to desktop browser market share. This won't happen overnight, of course, but if this positive press continues, word will spread that Edge is at least worth a try. And that could be the foot in the door that Microsoft really needs.
But what do you think? Vote in our poll, check out the results, and then drop us a comment with specifics.