Edge bombshell recap: what we’ve learned (and still don’t know) about Microsoft’s Chromium based web browser

Kip Kniskern

Microsoft Edge app on ios

Some days are more interesting than others, and late yesterday, things got real interesting in the Microsoft-watching world as Windows Central’s Zac Bowden dropped a bombshell: Microsoft is planning to ditch Edge and its EdgeHTML browser engine for a Chromium based new default browser for Windows 10. There’s lots to unpack in this bit of news, and since the announcement some details have filtered out, and of course, we’re left with lots of questions. Let’s dig in:

Announcement timing: as soon as this week?

In the Windows Central post, Zac Bowden reveals that Windows Insiders could be seeing work on the new Chromium-based browser soon, and The Verge is reporting that Microsoft may make an announcement as soon as this week. With such a huge platform shift, and especially with a shift to an open-source platform, Microsoft will need to get its plans out in the open soon. We’ll be keeping a close eye on things, of course.

ElectronJS: a piece of the puzzle

This news is nothing if not convoluted, and Microsoft MVP (and oddly named) Twitter user @SwiftOnSecurity made an interesting observation last night:

To muddy the waters, although “Taylor Swift” is saying that Edge can not keep up with Chromium performance-wise (for running ElectronJS apps, etc), another Microsoft-watcher, Peter Bright from Ars Technica, holds that Edge actually does better than Chromium in terms of battery life (including with Electron apps):

Microsoft has tried, and largely failed, to woo developers to build modern apps for Windows, and a move to Chromium could well be a signal that they’re ready to switch rather than continue to fight. There are still lots of unanswered questions about how it will all work, or even if a switch of browser engine will have much of an effect at all. One thing is for sure, it will make for interesting times ahead!

A Windows Phone tidbit thrown in for good measure

Another juicy little bit popped up in the Twitter-stream last night, too. Former Microsoft Technical Fellow Erik Meijier, who has since left the company, revealed that he almost got fired for doing what was close to unthinkable back then, bringing Chrome to Windows Phone:

How times change!

(Lots of) questions remain

For now, we’re looking at this news (if it is actually news at all, Microsoft has not commented so far) through the wrong end of a telescope, and there is lots we don’t yet know. What will this new browser be called? Will it actually ship with all versions of Windows 10, as Bowden suggests, or is this a play for a more lightweight and uncoupled Windows Core OS? Will Microsoft further embrace the world of Google Chrome, perhaps allowing Android apps to run on Windows? So many questions.

What do you think of last night’s news? Where do you think Microsoft is heading? Let us know in the comments below