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Rounding up reactions to Microsoft's plan to adopt Google Chromium for Edge

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

Last week, Microsoft announced that the company is going to rebuild Edge from the ground up using the Chromium open-source project along with the Blink rendering engine. This is a huge deal, for both users and web developers, as it means there's now one less rendering engine to code for. For users, this should result in websites behaving the same across Edge, Chrome, and Opera, but it also means there are now only two rendering engines in use.

When we reported on this news last week, the internet was divided. Many people were somewhat optimistic about this idea:

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Even web developers were happy to hear about the switch to Chromium and Blink for Edge:

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Not everyone was pleased, however. Many online think this is a terrible idea:

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Some were already satisfied with Edge:

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Others believe the move was inevitable:

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There's also the idea that a "browser made by Microsoft" is the problem and that switching to Chromium won't change anything:

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There's much to unwrap regarding the switch to Chromium and Blink for Microsoft Edge. Many don't understand why Microsoft is doing it, citing the fact that they think Edge is good enough today, and others are happy to see Microsoft attempting to build a better product for users. Web developers appear to be somewhat divided, with some thinking this is great, as they no longer have to code for Edge in addition to Chrome, but other web developers think this is terrible, as less rendering engines will likely result in less innovation and more control to a single entity.

Whichever camp you fall into, the fact of the matter is Microsoft is doing this so that it no longer has to pour resources into a web browser that so few people use. Building on top of Chromium will allow Microsoft to use a base that is already mature, and customize it to their liking by adding Microsoft-specific features and functions. There's no guaranteeing that this will make people want to use Edge, but it will improve web performance, as most websites today are built with Chromium and Blink in mind anyway.

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

  • I won't know what to think until I try it out. It better not lose any of the features it already has. I like reading books and inking. I also like how it remembers my passwords and credit cards. If it is really good when it comes out, then I hope I can download it onto my HP Elite X3. They plan to support Windows 7 with this thing then please bring it to the phone.
  • It won't support the phone. It wont be a UWP App because it is going to windows 7 & 8 and those platforms never supported UWP. So it has no chance of releasing on Windows Phone.
  • I’d would guess microsoft back ported some of the uwp dlls to windows 7 and 8 only for windows edge.
  • Chrome has a much better password manager. Edge doesn't store my passwords for half the websites I use and it can't generate new passwords.
  • Going by what Opera went through, for the first few versions, it mostly won't have any thing until they will slowly be build back in.
  • 2 years ago - "Hey, Lets give up on Windows on phones, and just support Android"
    Today - "Hey, Lets give up on Edge, and just use Chromium"
    Tomorrow - "Hey, Lets give up on Windows and just write a new UI for Linux"
  • Well, hopefully Android instead of Linux.
  • Hopefully not, lagdroid is an insecure piece of garbage phone OS.
  • Android, a API-all-you-can-tamper-OS, is a worst choice.
    Vulkan is still crippled on Note8/9, and devs cannot move pass OpengGL 2 because of all those API-inconsistency. Besides, Win10 is not just on PC. It's on IOT, AR, MR, ARM, Xbox == inside drone, vending machine, surveillance, arcade cabinet, robotics and many things. Android, Linux, iOS cannot replace that. 3rd party HW, components, peripherals and driver support is on a different level. You cannot just plug a random peripheral to an Android or iOS and expect to work right? Where's the server hosting drivers?
  • That will happen and be logical. Reason is that most of the content will be streamed from Azure. A light weight web browser on some kind of embedded Linux on a device that will not have a lot of computer power will be the future. Long battery life, light weight and fast due to everything is done in the cloud. The user will not see any difference though.
  • Careful what you write on Microsoft's servers there, comrade!
  • What? A web browser such as Chrome is anything but light. Modern web sites aren't rendered on the server anymore, The server sends a package containing thousands of JavaScript libraries to run the most simple of "modern" web apps and the browser has to compile and run all of that. JavaScript is a mess as a language that's why you either end with a slow JavaScript engine such as current Edge or one which needs many gigabytes of RAM to run such as Chrome(ium). Modern websites don't even send you HTML anymore, most of it is rendered in pure JavaScript
  • I agree, JS is a mess, and ugly... I hate languages with no types.
    C, C++ and... C# cause we can use share some codes between client and server.
    Java is slow and I don't do Android, so it's a nono to me.
  • C# is just as bad and slow as Javascript.
  • Obviously, you're a developer. /s
  • Nah, Windows Phone and Edge never gained traction and were both perpetually behind the competition. Windows 10 has its problems, but the essential market share is not one. Edge also isn't a great comparison because EdgeHTML is merely a project to reinvent the wheel. By not fighting this uphill battle (no matter how noble) they can theoretically focus on features that make Edge really stand out, rather than always playing catch up.
  • - Windows phone never made sense for Windows OS to begin with. Windows is a productivity OS, not a consume media and play flappy bird OS.
    - Edge on Chromium will actually make it competitive once again, especially in enterprise.
    - It's absolutely... ridiculous... to believe Microsoft is planning to give up on Windows. Windows is the reason people subscribe to Azure, Office 365, and purchase Surface devices. Nadella is a pragmatist, not an idealist. That's why he's cut his losses on initiatives that were never Microsoft strong points to begin with, and why he's doubled down on initiatives that are. It's why he's CEO of the year... and rightly so.
  • Windows is a productivity OS? How did you arrive at that conclusion? For many years, Windows was the ONLY OS for 90%+ of the world's population, and the default in home computing. More games have been launched on Windows machines than Office sessions...!
  • You're right about gaming... but again... those are not the I just need to kill a little time while waiting for the doctor games i.e. Flappy bird... Angry Birds... and Candy Crush. The kind of gaming Microsoft excels in is best experienced on powerful machines with large screens... and Nadella and Big Phil are more than doubling down on that. Bottom line... MS shouldn't be making tiny little devices anymore than Ford or Hummer should be making hatchbacks. It's just not their thing. Where Microsoft excels is in devices 10 inches or larger.
  • The last one is not going to happen.
  • I am fine with it unless Microsoft releases it without being a fully functional browser in preview first. Please no more incomplete browser releases like the first version of Edge (or even the second or third version of Edge)!
  • This is likely. It seems that any internal projects that rely on API updates to the UWP platform tickle in. UWP has not been the silver bullet Microsoft thought it would be and they keep lying about its importance In the future.
  • It really seems like UWP just exists in a parallel universe to the rest of Microsoft. Visual Studio is WPF, Office is Win32 (with 365 being web based), and Code is Electron. If Microsoft can't dogfood it then it's never gonna take off, even if it's technically capable.
  • Very true. I hope they don't release the browser with issues and missing features and then turn around and say they will be fixed/added in the next update. They have a habit of doing this unfortunately. I can understand doing this if it's a new product but it's a very bad idea if you're competing with very successful rivals.
  • Agreed. Microsft's insistence on starting from scratch is what killed mobile and Edge before they even got going. You don't see Android or IOS tearing everything up and beginning all over again.
  • The second revamped Edge hits the release preview ring I am switching Windows Update off for as long as I can. I am not looking forward to the bug ridden calamity that it undoubtedly will be. Let's face it, the first year Edge was out there it wasn't even close to usable. It took them 2 years with change to make Estonian ID work with the browser. I am not experiencing all that again. And I would love a good browser, unfortunately I cant use Chrome or FF cause they simply bad with touch on W10 - not sure who's fault is that, but does it really matter? If touch friendliness didn't happen on the rest of the browsers by now, it never will. My only hope is that Edge on Chromium will be usable at least in a year after it is released - cause I think a year is the max you can stall Windows Update...
  • It probably won't be that bad. I think Chromium is basically turnkey. Microsoft will just have to update the UI and add some of their custom features. I am sure it isn't quite that simple, but shouldn't be too hard. Much easier than building their own from the ground up.
  • I'm sure the first release will be missing a lot of features. It's the Microsoft way
  • Because most browsers come fully loaded in their initial release.
  • "Most websites today are built with Chromium and Blink in mind anyway" is the problem, not a means to the solution. Multiplatform frameworks existed to mitigate these issues like jQuery and other newer technologies. Leave it to them to build the tools to bridge the gap between cross platform differences. Competition is good and having choices is better for the end Users and the Web. Microsoft will quickly find themselves in the position of Apple with none of the mindshare where their devices may be popular, but the ecosystem everyone uses on them is still Google's. Please don't let this happen.
  • But the problem is that Chromium isn't even using proprietary features -- just the spec. The only difference is just that Chromium is almost always first to adopt things, so its compatibility is inevitably superior.
  • That's the actual problem actually. It adopts too many experimental features that aren't in the standard yet. This was the case with the Youtube fiasco using a v0 implementation of ShadowDom which was still undergoing standardization and deliberation (aka still not a standard) which was only implemented on Chromium based browsers. This made Edge and Firefox perform very badly on the new polymer based Youtube as they use polyfills provided rather than a native implementation as Firefox and Edge was waiting for the final API to be finalized before implementing them natively. Ironically the final API was very different from the v0 spec. This is a problem since it's using it's market share as a hostage to pressure the standards body to comply to what new web features chromium / Google (since they're still the one who has the final say what gets merged to the main repo) wants first. The problem is that instead of chromium revolving around standards it's the other way around at that point. Three browser engines have an advantage of diversity as the standards body has to consider all 3's quirks and advantages when deciding a proper spec for a web feature (e.g. EdgeHTML may parse JS / HTML differently and has to consider it, Gecko may render content in a different direction, etc...) which makes the spec more robust for the future. It also makes it more secure when Zero day exploits happen as they all have differing implementations that exploits have to consider and the affected browser can refer to the non affected implementations for reference on fixing the exploit. I'm a web dev myself and I know it was for practical decisions, but we shouldn't dismiss the possible long term problems having a monoculture dominating the web. This is less on about Google but rather on future Innovation and Security.
  • Many web devs are so lazy they don't even write for Edge, they just call it all IE and say that is good enough. This is the $croogle way, get everyone to do it their way so they can monetize the ad revenue.
  • Simply ridiculous. Writing code is not for the faint of heart. It's one of the hardest jobs on this blue planet. Making dev's lives a little easier is a very practical move on Nadella's part and will only result in higher quality apps... and... greater adoption for Edge.
  • Stupid but understandable. I'd rather have MS develop further though.
  • If it helps the Microsoft Store app situation, then I'm all for it. More PWA's sounds good to me. Also, it's not the same as the days when IE dominated the browser world. Chromium is open-source and many companies contribute to it, including, now, Microsoft. This is much better than the IE monoculture we had when I was in high school. It's not total control by one evil company. Also, it's not like Google will just ditch Chromium like they forked off of WebKit. The web is now dominated by websites built for Chromium and Blink. They are trapped by their own success. And it's success they're not likely to repeat - they'd be in the same boat as Microsoft today with Edge.
  • Odd that so many "developers" seem to be confused on both the difference between an engine (chromium) and a browser (Chrome) , along with the difference between Internet Explorer and Edge.
  • Chromium is also a browser, available on Linux the engine is called blink. Although it doesn't seem to be available on Windows. (edit) No, here it is
  • Count me on Team This Ain't Good News. Having one rendering engine dominate the World Wide Web, particularly one controlled by Google, is not a good thing. Firefox, here I come, I guess. Very disappointing, as Edge is a fantastic browser. It makes even less sense to do this given that, as they claim, they're still going to be developing EdgeHTML and Chakra anyway because of Windows 10's reliance on it.
  • But Chromium is open-source, so Google doesn't control it. Also, EdgeHTML shares the same underlying graphics rendering as the rest of UWP, so a lot of native Windows apps loosely rely on it.
  • You keep telling yourself they don't control it but the reality is $croogle will control it and devs will build for the quirks in $croogle's version of chrome/chromium then $croogle will push web standards that benefit them, not Microsoft and I am sure scroogle will have plenty of their own buddies jumping on their bandwagon.
  • But Google owns it. Any commit/branch merge, requires Gogole's approval.
    DL it then mod it all you want, but if your code is not in the main branch, you'll have to add those mods back in and QA ALL OVER AGAIN, every time you pull. And one day, all your mods will prob be incompatible and useless. You can see it, you can mod it, but merging your code to the main branch is another thing.
  • But they just will add the code that makes sense to them and don't break things. I don't see why Google will prevent MS from fixing, enhancing etc their Chromium product just because somebody from MS added code to it.
  • The issue is that anything they add that Google doesn't accept into the main Chromium build they'll have to spend resources independently maintaining and ensuring it continues to be compatible with the main build that Google controls. At that point, they'll be spending so many resources doing that that they'd have been better off just sticking with developing EdgeHTML instead, which at least they controlled. The bottom line here is that open source really isn't open source. There is always a governor, and that governor is Google, meaning not only is Microsoft now dependent on them but pretty much the entire World Wide Web is, and that's a really bad thing.
  • The problem is like any other Open Source repo, people will have differing opinions on what direction to take for the repo. Google as the maintainer won't just accept PRs willy nilly even if it's enhancements if it clashes with their vision for the browser. This has happened quite a lot already on the open source world where the repo maintainer rejects PRs that's clearly improvements but doesn't align with the direction of the maintainers as they might have other plans that will clash with the affected areas the PR patches. Take for instance a case where MS might want to prioritize more resource efficiency and lessen resource usage for chromium (this was a selling point for Edge) and has all that ready to go, but Google doesn't have any plans there as it would clash with how the V8 JS engine does things or how blink handles processes. Chromium has the "unused ram is wasted ram / resource" philosophy while MS Edge values resource conservation more (e.g. suspending and freeing up RAM for inactive tabs for other apps to use), that may clash and would end up having to maintain a fork which will diverge as time goes like how WebKit and now Chromium once did.
  • Zac. This is a brilliantly objective article. It clearly states even in other peoples words to varying opinions over what's happening with Microsoft Edge. I applaud you for taking the time to put it together and 2 Windows Central for printing it. You guys do great work and I just wanted to take a second and Stand Up and cheer. Not necessarily as a Microsoft Fanboy. But because of your transparency into the many facets of what Microsoft really is. On the surface. some people only see mac versus PC or phone versus phone or the lack thereof in the case of windows. And they can't see the future. When there may be no phone........
    But you guys see it...... Find leading edge technology..... In any category. No one buys it until everyone wants it. And you only want it if the right device is made the device that makes you wanted, even though you don't need it. Until you've had it long enough that you can't live without it. This is the exact reason that cell phones exist. We never needed them until we did. You guys you're one of the very few media outlets that are willing to ask that daring question. But what happens when what comes next actually arrive? And will it be what it needs to be to move the needle? I went off in a bit of a tangent there, but I'm gonna leave it in. I hope I didn't offend anyone with my views.
  • As an end user I think it's a good idea. If Edge hasn't caught on now then it will never catch on. I use Edge as my primary browser and there have been occasions when I've had to use Chrome to render or use certain websites correctly. It's very frustrating but I still use Edge because I like to stay within the Microsoft ecosystem and earn my bing reward points. Chromium is open source so it will continue to grow and develop with Microsoft's input.
  • Wait, If there’s no uwp in the new Microsoft browser, then how’s it run on the up coming “windows core OS” which doesn’t have native win32 without fiddling around?
  • chromium and node.js are mushrooming in the progressive web apps category... Microsoft needs to tag along without being incompatible... because windows is lower priority since it doesn’t work on android... microsoft can already barely get popular android apps ported to windows... they all decide to keep them as chromium JavaScript apps... rather then screwing around with the windows versions... directly supporting chromium removes the barrier to getting those apps on windows
  • Anybody notice that Netflix’s works better from the web browser then as a windows store app? And where’s the amazon video in windows store? Also only available in web browser... clearly Microsoft is losing the war or. Progressive web apps compared with android.
  • No.. Works best as an app for me.
  • I get what you're saying, but when it comes to Netflix, it runs like a dream on my PC. I've never even tried to use the browser version.
  • Lookup what Electron is and how Microsoft already delivered PWA support in Edge, and maybe you'll be surprised.
  • I do thinks this is good idea.
  • I still think this is a non-event. A browser with 4% share among 50% of Windows PCs, is changing its rendering engine. To one that actually works. BFD. If Edge had, say, 40% share then this might be important news. What this is REALLY about is so that PWAs - assuming they ever take off - will run on Windows without any extra effort required by developers. Because no one is going to test their apps on a browser with such a tiny share. Let's face it, Microsoft needs all of the developer support they can get. The "software monoculture" crocodile tears is a bunch of self-righteous baloney. This is not IE6. Chromium is open source. Google does not control it, any more than Ubuntu controls Linux. Get over it people. Its just software. Its not the end of the world.
  • You get over it, $croogle is not a good trustworthy company and they will try and control the engine and the standards. If it was just software then why did all those companies whine about Microsoft and IE? My guess is you are an android fanboy or a lazy web dev.
  • Android fanboy? You are clueless. Do you even understand what open source means? Again, you are clueless. Microsoft and IE was totally different. That WAS a single company controlling it.
  • I do think the worries about monocultures are overblown, unless I've grossly misunderstood the nature of open-source software and Google's relationship with Chromium and Blink. Chromium and Blink won the standards war (WC3 and Edge lost) but that's not the same as the bad old days of absolutely needing IE to get on the Internet lest your computer blows up. Nowhere close.
  • Exactly. Having multiple browsers based on open source standards is a good thing. No one is left out. Everyone wins, users and developers.
  • The problem overall though despite being open source is that monoculture will sway and dictate the standards which means it may or may not be beneficial for the web. As a web dev I can see a lot of websites already using chrome non-standard features and sniff the user-agent to tell users to use Chrome or else the site wouldn't work as they don't usually provide polyfills. The YouTube fiasco was a big red flag last time. The main chromium repo implemented a v0 spec of Shadow Dom which wasn't finished standardization yet which meant that Edge and Firefox was waiting and discussing on the final API (which was quite different from the v0 spec in the end). They have other APIs too that's non-standard (mostly on service worker APIs). YouTube used this and provided polyfills for non chromium browsers which suffered severely on site performance. That's what Mozilla is afraid of, due to market share it can do that without repercussions and can also pressure the standards body to revolve around Chromium's implementations rather than the other way around, which in my opinion will stifle innovation from other competitors like Mozilla as they have differing visions on their browser direction. Another problem with having one web engine open source or not is that it's a big attack vector. One big zero day exploit could crash the web if that ever happens and being open source itself can't prevent that from happening. Compared to multiple implementations of engines that may or may not be affected by the exploit that the affected engine can reference for a fix. Also Chromium's performance on webassembly is pretty bad so far too compared to Firefox and Edge's. This is probably due to the repo / Google's priorities and interests. Mozilla and MS's Chakra Core is betting big on wasm as a lot of devs wants other languages for the web other than JS. A mono culture wouldn't have had innovations like that on different fronts, and if wasm does take off Chromium in turn will be pressured to do better on its wasm implementation which drives innovation on both fronts and Firefox and Edge (right now) will be pressured on doing better on parts where Chromium does better. A healthy competition as long as one doesn't eat up the others.
  • I think your points are well made and your are obviously better informed than me - I learned a lot. But I think keeping EdgeHTML going wouldn't have helped with anything you mentioned - Microsoft lost the browser standards war. Google won. That's how it goes. Plus, having another heavyweight tech company contribute to Chromium can help address its flaws, if not the engine monoculture itself.
  • Chromium is open source alright but doesn't means anyone can merge their code into the main branch. Any merge, requires Google approval / supervision. You can certainly DL and mod, but if your code is not in the main branch, you'll have to add those mods back in and QA ALL OVER AGAIN every time you pull the updates. And one day, all your mods will prob be incompatible and useless. Unless, Google gives MS the authority.
  • I was initially thinking this wasn't a good idea when I started reading the article, but the last couple of points about MS wanting to save resources and just use an already mature platform makes sense. I wonder if these types of decisions are the reason why MS is passing Apple in terms of market cap value.
  • I like the idea of edge made throught chromoam. But doesnt change the reason i wont be using edge. Ive been asking microsoft for 3 years now to allow me to open new tabs to my choices of or even my home page direcrly and they still refuse to do this. Add that to the constant pushing of edge and bing and i well i am out. I was that anoyed with the no new tabs to my home page that i even stoped using ie. Also multi monitor tab movement sucks its not like ie was. Ie multimonitor tab movement and control was superior. How in 3 years has mocrosft failed to copy this. Is programing that hard that it cant be done at all? Microft do give you 3 options for tabs to open too problem Is their unusable for my needs and well they are not allowing me to browse the way i want like all the other browaers i know use. Novil consept let me have my choice. I actually like edge. Yes it doesnt always work reliably but new tabs issue stops me multi tabing fast. Stop force feeding me your methods microsft cause of you werwnt id now already be uaing edge. Shame.
  • I miss windows mobile. Phone. Live tiles and cortana were at the time in 2015 years ahead of android and ios in many ways. I didnt like the closed eco systen but i got it. I love my android s9 plus and ios feels heavy now bit they both have something fundimental in common. Their static icons with the number feel so old and dated even today compared to windows ui and the live tiles. Widgets just dont cut it and they should.
  • Another useless attempt. They have zero idea about the consumer market.
  • If Edge on it's own engine wasn't a good idea, then why did they develop it in the first place, and why did WC keep praising its virtues for years?
    And if Edge on Chromium is going to be an uphill battle against existing browsers without anything to set it apart, what's the point wasting resources on it?
  • The idea of Edge vs. the world was a holdover from the IE vs. the world... IT "cold-war"... days. Edge on Chromium is much more Nadella-esque. Embracing other's ideas... platforms... supporting opensource... cooperating with others... Besides that, Edge on Chromium just makes a lot of practical sense: * Enterprise IT shops may no longer feel forced to standardize on Chrome when they have a built in browser that will render pages as consistently but without all the Google baked-in crap. * Any new PWAs being created are targeting Chromium. To ride the new wave of how many "apps" will be created in the next couple of decades they need a browser that renders them on the engine they were written and tested for. * This move buys a lot of good will with developers who are sick and tired of being caught in the middle of the browser cold-war. * This move further solidifies the new Microsoft. People like the new Microsoft. Just look at the stock price.
  • It seems like a logical move for Microsoft. However, my gripe is that (and nobody seems to be bothered about this) why bother with EdgeHTML in the first place!?
    Chromium could have been used at the time when IE was being rebranded to Edge, and had that been done 3 years ago it would have been a MUCH better competitor than it is today.
    Why waste building EdgeHTML/Chakra all this time when it was eventually going be phased out in favor of Blink/V8?
  • Because Chrome was not nearly as dominant and Edge adhered to W3C standards better. MS figured developers would follow the consortium standards. Instead, they went with the leader, Chrome, and it's engine became the default standard. But it wasn't obvious 3 years ago, because so many people were still on IE, people who seemed ready to switch to Edge and Windows 10. Instead many stayed on Windows 7 and went with Chrome.
  • 1. Chrome was nearly as much dominant 3 years ago as it is today.
    2. Edge was never better than Chrome when it came to standards, but it wasn't too far off either. The real problem with Edge upon launch was that it was just not feature complete and had major reliability issues.
  • I guess the next step would be a marvelous service for running Win32 apps on macOS and Android.
  • Microsoft suffers from a mind share problem in the consumer space. Going to the Chromium monoculture will not help the situation. If they go this path, most consumers and self proclaimed experts will just say "Just use Chrome" -- For people who want diversity in the web, this is not going to help. However, I hold out hope as I watch the Vivaldi web browser based on Chromium / Blink which IMHO is far better than Google Chrome. IM