Microsoft Edge, Chromium, and Blink FAQ: Everything you need to know

Microsoft Edge logo on Start menu
Microsoft Edge logo on Start menu (Image credit: Windows Central)

With news that Microsoft is officially changing its Edge browser from EdgeHTML to one based on the open-source Chromium Project, there are many questions about what it all means.

What is Chromium? How is it different than Google Chrome? Can the browser be updated without the OS? All of these questions and many more are answered in our new Edge and Chromium frequently-asked questions (FAQ) roundup.

Is Microsoft killing its Edge browser?

No. Microsoft Edge is sticking around and will have the same name and icon. The engine that powers Edge is being changed from EdgeHTML to Chromium's Blink.

Microsoft sees Edge as a browser for all its technologies and services across multiple platforms including all versions of Windows, iOS, Android, and even macOS.

Why does the change matter?

For consumers, the only difference will be a more web standards-compliant browser that works better than the previous EdgeHMTL one.

For web developers, it means less work, as there is no more of specific targeting EdgeHTML code for website compatibility. While the browser will be better in many ways, the overall look and feel should be similar, meaning many people won't notice the shift, at least visually.

When will we see these changes to Microsoft Edge?

A feature-incomplete preview version for developers will likely come in early 2019.

There is no estimate on when Microsoft will ship the consumer version to the public, but it could happen in the second half of 2019.

Where can developers sign up for the preview version when it eventually ships in 2019?

Developers and tinkerers are encouraged to sign up at Microsoft's Edge Insider site.

Microsoft will be using Blink, which falls under the Chromium Project and V8 for the JavaScript engine.

Microsoft Edge logo in Windows search

Microsoft Edge logo in Windows search (Image credit: Windows Central)

There are a few reasons including EdgeHTML (and Edge) not gaining any significant market share compared to Google's Chrome browser with no obvious way to change that.

Businesses and enterprises are also driving the decision, as a Chromium-based browser can be updated independently of Windows, which can greatly help IT departments.

Microsoft also wants to contribute code to the Chromium project to help influence the future of the web. Microsoft is committed to open-source, and Chromium is one area where the company can contribute and make a difference.

Which versions of Windows will Edge (Chromium) support?

Microsoft will ship Edge (Chromium) to Windows 7, Windows 8, and all versions of Windows 10.

Will macOS ever get Edge (Chromium)?

Yes. Microsoft plans to bring Edge (Chromium) to macOS, too.

What's the difference between Chromium and Google Chrome?

Chromium is an open-source web browser that uses the Blink rendering engine. Google contributes a lot of code, proposals, and more to it, but any company or individual can do the same.

Google Chrome is a web browser built on Chromium that adds Google-specific features and services. It is similar to how the Android OS can exist without Google services, like it does on Amazon Fire tablets.

Other less popular browsers like Brave, Opera, and Beaker also use Chromium but have no ties to Google or its services.

Does Microsoft using Chromium mean there will be Google services in Windows 10?

No. Microsoft Edge powered by Chromium will have Windows-specific features, including Microsoft Account support.

Does Microsoft using Chromium mean that Google Chrome is coming to the Microsoft Store?

There is no reason to believe that is going to happen or that a policy shift on browsers in the Store is being proposed.

How will Edge based on Chromium be updated?

Microsoft Edge (Chromium) will be updated independently of the OS, either through Windows Update, an in-browser updater, or another method.

The browser will not rely on OS updates for new features and users should expect regular updates to keep parity with the Chromium project.

Google Chrome is bad at battery life, touch scrolling, and mouse support. Why would Microsoft want that for Edge?

Microsoft is going to be actively contributing code to Chromium, including how to do proper touch-events like the way it works in the current version of Edge, and much more including ARM64 support.

Where there are issues, or things that don't work well in Windows, Microsoft will work with the open-source community to rectify those problems. That means all browsers, including Google Chrome and Brave, could also get these benefits if users prefer those browsers to the new Edge.

Will the new Edge look the same?

There will be many similarities, but there could also be some smaller changes.

What about inking, reading view, PDF support, and other Edge features?

Microsoft is attempting to port over code to the new Edge (Chromium) version. However, some features will be reevaluated for usefulness based on user telemetry and may eventually be removed.

Why is Microsoft announcing this so early?

Microsoft wants to signal to developers, partners, and the open-source community that it is invested in Chromium to be open and transparent.

What about 'Sets' for Windows 10?

Microsoft Sets depends on Edge, so the forthcoming feature is still being worked on, but development has slowed until the shift to Chromium takes place.

Is EdgeHTML in Windows 10 dead?

No. EdgeHTML is still a part of Windows 10, and things like WebView control will be used in Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps for the foreseeable future with updates. However, what comes next remains to be seen.

What about browser extensions?

Due to being based on Chromium, there will be more extensions available than on the current version of Edge, with developers not having any new work to do. How those extensions will be discovered and distributed is not yet clear.

Does Microsoft giving up on EdgeHTML mean Google has 'won the web?'

In some ways, yes. But up until now, Google has had free reign to contribute code and proposals to Chromium without Microsoft. That is now shifting, and Microsoft will actively work on the Chromium Project, which means the future of the web – including what Google Chrome adopts – will be influenced by Microsoft. That's an interesting change in strategy versus a competing browser and browser engine.

Daniel Rubino
Editor-in-chief

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

64 Comments
  • I can't delete this with the app on my Lumia
  • So why shouldn't Microsoft allow other Chromium browsers in the Microsoft Store now? I don't see the point when they don't use EdgeHTML themselves. Are you guys really sure about that?
  • It's an arbitrary rule that Microsoft can change at any moment. Currently, Chrome has its own app updater built in that would be separate from Store validations and likely not allowed.
  • Ok that's a good point. Btw wasn't talking about Google Chrome specifically just Chromium browsers in general.
  • which ones? Regular Chromium is an open source project, so it's unlikely anyone is going to pay the bill to submit it to the store every time it needs an update. Opera has been bought out by a company with strong ties to the Chinese government, and would probably cause a lot of problems from Microsoft if they allowed that in a store they expect US/EU enterprises might adopt.
  • Thanks for this. This is a lot clearer than the first article that came out, which made it seem like Edge was "dead." That didn't sound right. This makes a lot more sense. This is all fine with me, frankly. If Google won the Web standards war, then it won. As long as I still have a good choice of browsers - and apparently I will. And I can stick to Edge. That it may improve the UWP/PWA/Windows Store situation in some way seems promising (although I've noticed the Store has gotten a lot richer lately).
  • How does this work on w10 in s mode? Can we download that browser or is it still coming to the Microsoft store?
  • I'd imagine the first public release will come in the form of an OS update that removes the old version, adds the new one. Future updates to the browser will then either come through the browser or Windows Update - hasn't been decided (or made public) yet.
  • If ink, books and pdf goes away it will be a loss. Set tabs asside is a good idea especially if tied to sets. Uwp needs to be reworked to not support edge html seriously I get wanting standards but edge goes deep. Something feels wrong here.....uwp or something deeper is at risk. An example will Andromeda emulate web....or will this cross platform browser be uwp? I'm not ranting or sticking my feet in the mud? I'm just asking hard questions they haven't answered. Like office mobile, and edge go away in favor of win32? I want a Uwp future....do they?
  • Why not through the Windows Store?
  • Dan, even though it's Win32, does that mean it (and future Edge Extensions) can't be available through the Store? That would be ideal for updates. Might Microsoft plan to use one of their bridges so that the extensions can still be acquired through the Store for Windows 10 users (surely that's key to their plans for drawing traffic to the Store)? To move this solely to Windows Update (Store updates are much nicer) and take Extensions out of the Store seems to run counter to everything I understand about their Windows strategy.
  • Microsoft has not make it clear on how it will be updated, just that it won't be tied to the OS.
  • Meaning it could update through the Store?
  • Nice informative article...
    But, will MS Edge and MS Edge Chromium co-exist together?
  • Edge as it currently is, would die and the Chromium based browser will take over.
  • The Edge team clarified that on twitter and said that it still be on active development as there's parts where Chakra and EdgeHTML does better than chromium especially IoT since the engine itself is better dealing with resource constrained environments and embedding. The JS engine (Chakra Core) is open source and is quite active on the Node.js community that deals with IoT, so even if development from MS would stop people can continue via a fork for it. The only question left here is if MS would also open source EdgeHTML as well so that others can commit pull requests or fork it on those who would want to.
  • Cheers Dan, this is good info... I was concerned Google being a immature child about it - that Youtbe app saga is still fresh in my mind lol.. But I see now that Chrome would benefit too so Google will be welcoming these changes with open arms. In regards to extensions, I don't see how the current implementation would change as effectively the store acts like a extension repository albeit the underpinings of extension will be changing. I just hope the inking features remain as they are awesome to use and make notes on especially for site changes as well as design.
  • Yeah I hope most if not all of the features in edge move over
  • Thanks for this comprehensive FAQ. I believe this change is for the better...if I can get a rendering engine that is as good as the one in Google Chrome but with the excellent battery life Edge offers, I believe it is a positive change.
  • The ONLY reason I use Edge on my Surface Go is because it's smoother than Firefox. As long as the smoothness remains, then I will continue to use Edge.
  • Currently, Netflix only runs at max 1280x720 on Chrome, but runs full HD 1080p on Edge. Would this change? Not a problem with the UWP app anyway, just wondering
  • Actually, Netflix can stream at 4k to Edge, but not on Chrome.
  • Edge's "unique" ability to play Netflix in 4k is actually because studios require netflix to implement HDCP2.2 DRM for 4k streaming in a way that requires hardware support. Microsoft is sort of abusing their position of having deeper system ties to provide that hardware support on *some* computers (requires newer generation intel chips). Executable permissions and system privileges shouldn't change when Microsoft adopts the new rendering engine.
  • Interesting fact, didn't know that
  • I had thought that Chakra was the fastest rendering engine for JavaScript. I wonder why they would want to use V8?
  • My best guess is that the code for Chakra will be added to V8.
  • It's probably because they want to be cross platform and that entailed needing Blink which has a hard dependency for V8. So even if they wanted to use Chakra + Blink, it would have been hard since they'd have to essentially rewrite Blink to be able to communicate with Chakra. Thankfully Chakra is quite alive on the Node.js community due to the fact that it's still be best Js engine for IoT since it's more efficient on dealing with low resource environments and is also open source. So if ever MS stops developing the community can fork it and continue forward. Though I do hope they also open source EdgeHTML after this too so that people can fork or contribute to it even if MS doesn't want to.
  • Is Edge still going to be UWP once switched to Chromium? And the Edge graphics rendering is super fast. Compare MotionMark 1.0 benchmark between Edge and Chrome on the same machine. Edge will blow away Chrome. I hope they can put some of that graphics rendering magic into Chromium. Microsoft will need to get the word out that this is what is happening. People will still use the Chrome browser simply based on habit and bias. They need to get the word out that now Edge has the same engine as Chrome.
  • This should not effect its ability to function as UWP.
  • UWP as the base for Edge is probably done, yeah!!! No more crashes and hangs! UWP only works on Windows 10, not Windows 7 or MacOS. So those are clear signals UWP is done for Edge
  • It has been a great mistake to depend EdgeHTML and Edge on UWP (AppContainer). Things should not have become so bad if MS implemented EdgeHTML within Internet Explorer's standard Win32 interface.
    In a word, UWP is not a qualified Window Manager and DWM is also too complex. MS should consider providing an option to revert back to Windows 9x/2K style "Windows Classic" window arrangement.
  • Why does Microsoft have to make their own Chromium browser? There are plenty available already..
    I don't see the benefit...
  • websites will render better.
    it removes a hurdle that would have caused the PWA plan to have serious issues.
  • Sorry, I don't understand. Websites will render exactly as they do in other Chromium browsers, so no benefit at all...?
  • websites are optimized for webkit and blink, but not edgehtml. the change of Edge to using blink means webpages in Edge will render, as you put it, "as they do in other Chromium browsers", which is an improvement compared to Edge using EdgeHTML. Microsoft is tired of losing people who give up on Edge the moment they get to a webpage that doesn't display as nicely as it does in Chrome or Firefox. Likewise, lets pretend for a second that this is Windows Central and that people care about the future of Microsoft of Mobile Devices. PWA is Microsoft's next best shot at getting an app store that isn't terrible *because* people are developing PWA's for Chrome. And just like unoptimized websites, PWA's run better in Chrome because no one tests them for Edge. Microsoft adopting the Blink engine means that those PWA's will work as good on Edge/Windows as they do on Chrome/ChromeOS/Android. This switch is something Microsoft HAS to do if they want to ever be relevant in mobile again.
  • Integration. It allows them to integrate Bing, Cortana, Inking, Windows sync, etc to the browser.
  • MS has already done this kind of thing, just not on WIndows. Edge on Android and iOS use the native web rendering on each platform, but MS builds a wrapper around it that integrates it into the MS ecosystem, and makes it look Edgy.
  • The move gives Microsoft a say in the future development of web standards. EdgeHTML was going nowhere. Microsoft had to choose between letting Google drive the future through the Chomium project or get involved and start having a voice.
  • Which is a very sneaky move on Microsoft's part as whether you use Edge, Chrome, Opera or any other browser that uses Blink you will still be using code that Microsoft has contributed. I just hope that Edge still looks like it does today, on Windows at least.
  • This is a much better article when it comes to explaining what's happening compared to the one the other day where it sounded like Edge was changing completely. Honestly, as long as the browser is still fast and works just as well as it does now, I couldn't really care less what the rendering engine is.
  • This change will be nothing but positive. Many, many web devs dont bother to optimize for edge because marketshare is so small, but they all optimize for Chrome. Websites in general will look a lot better once Edge adopts the Blink engine. Better still, this saves project Chromium from Google's gradual abandonment (just like AOSP), and eliminates a significant hurdle for Microsoft's PWA moonshot (the hurdle being, no one was optimizing their PWA's for Edge).
  • Hope they keep the pdf viewer. Works really well for setting aside a set for meetings.
    Also reading view.
  • Great viewer indeed. Terrible to print from though.
  • Why would they avoid updating it through the Store?
  • What i very much hope is that the new version of Edge will be as power efficient as the current one. Say what you want about Edge but it consumes considerably less energy on my SP than any other browser, the difference being even bigger when it plays video content from sites.
  • Tremendooo smart move that has the potential to diminish the app gap fast.
  • App gap? Gap between what?
  • Is there a possibility that the extensions leave the store and are put on the web to download through the browser? I like that idea. I still think it would be a best if the browser itself was downloaded through the store.
  • Good. Now please go back to using the Favorites folder, too.
  • Huh? You can already use favourite folders in Edge we never lost that ability...
  • As of now, anything that is written by Google is not welcome in my applications list.
  • Dan you are almost a politician. Its too bad you are the SJW lefty type, but still … good job explaining Edge and Microsofts newest failure.
  • Opera is still the best browser on the market.
  • I have a feeling that Microsoft may allow extensions through the store and also allow Chrome extensions as well. Basically developers would have a choice.
  • Doesn't Google have another project (Chrome Canary or other?) where they are actively ripping out old, unused and legacy code from Chromium?
    Has MS mentioned slimming down their Chromium based Edge browser for faster and more power efficient browsing? I think this was one reason MS gave for developing EdgeHTML from scratch rather than porting over Explorer' engine.
    Also, is EdgeHTML really the problem with Edge? Or is it an unstable UWP platform??? I say this because all the Windows 10 apps (Mail, People, etc) all suffer from regular crashes, freezes, stuck open, or can't be closed, ETC)
  • Neat and clear information. Thanks for this article.
  • "Everything you need to know" All you need to know is that Edge will no longer suck. Oh, and that UWP is now officially dead. Since Edge will now run on Win 7 and 8.1, that means that - you guessed it - Win32 IS (and always has been) the "Universal Windows Platform".
  • So besides OneNote, UWP and XAML are officially dead?
  • Hi Dan Do you know if the new Edge will support 1080p streaming as it does now? As Google Chrome based on Chromium doesn't.
  • Here we go again, another andromeda, another W10 mobile. MS has such a history of announcing products and not delivering them that I just do not believe them.
  • Thanks for the excellent FAQ 👍
  • I have seen some in-house developed frameworks that work properly in IE and Chrome but not in Chromium. Hopefully, this is an odd edge case (no pun intended).
  • Will Microsoft Edge be using Google Safe Browsing now? One of my favorite things about Edge was that it relied on SmartScreen and thus didn't depend on Google Safe Browsing like Firefox, Safari, and Opera. I hope Microsoft is wise enough not to trust Google completely and makes sure to remove all the Google tracking/services from Chromium before pushing it out to us.
  • satya '*******' is the best employee google has