Today Microsoft confirmed the leaks that they will be using Google's Chromium web rendering engine for the Edge browser, and would be contributing their developer expertise to evolving the Chromium and other open source web engines.
Joe Belfiore, corporate veep of Windows, announced the plan, which was reported earlier this week.
More details on the Windows Blog.
As part of this development, Microsoft plans to move Edge to a Chromium-compatible web platform, which means all those Chrome extensions you use will now be available for Edge users. So Edge will likely look more or less as it does now but with certain differences based on the new engine.
On the mobile front, Microsoft's Edge browser was built without the EdgeHTML engine. Currently, Edge updates are tied with Windows 10 updates, which means it only gets a handful of updates throughout the year but once it's decoupled from the OS, it can be updated as often as required across all platforms. This is big news for the company that once dominated the web browsing market. But as of today, Edge only has a 4 percent share of the United States browser market, according to StatCounter. The rendering engine Microsoft has worked for years to flawless is getting the boot, and the company will spend the next year building a new version of Edge (the name stays) that will run on Apple's macOS as well as older versions of Windows.
Due to their lack of momentum since the release of Windows 10, the company is announcing a significant change today, they are building a new browser that is based on Chromium. But there were earlier signs that Microsoft planned to play nice with Google's open source project, including reports that the company was helping to bring Chrome to Windows 10 on Arm devices as a native app instead of an emulated version of one.
"Ultimately, we want to make the web experience better for many different audiences", Belfiore said. Microsoft has committed to still advancing web standards, and bringing the current advantages from Edge over to Chromium, such as the accessibility and security features.
"We intend to adopt the Chromium open source project in the development of Microsoft Edge on the desktop to create better web compatibility for our customers and less fragmentation of the web for all web developers", the company wrote.
The new app, which will also be called Edge, will also allow Microsoft to make a browser for Apple's MacOS. Right now, on desktops Edge is limited to Windows 10, which is on around half of all Windows PCs.
Unknown was whether Microsoft would keep the Edge name or give the browser a new name and whether the user interface between Edge and Anaheim would differ.
Will Microsoft's decision make it harder for Firefox to prosper? Blink is also used to develop Google Chrome, with Chromium. However, once the new version of Edge is ready, I think most people will be happy with this change. Edge is going to be rebuilt in Chromium, a change that will happen under the hood and will mostly go unnoticed by users.