This is the first look at Microsoft’s new web browser. It’ll still be known as Microsoft Edge, but it’s now based on Chromium. Yes, that’s the open-source engine that powers Google Chrome.
We’ve known for a few months that Microsoft was planning this. Why? Well there are several advantages in terms of compatibility with websites – because many sites and services – not least those from Google - are designed to work well in Chrome anyway, they will also now work well with Edge. You’ll also be able to install Chrome extensions via a setting.
The Verge has carried some leaked screenshots of the new Edge. It looks very much like Chrome, but it’s said that Microsoft will be customising the experience – presumably to work a bit more like Edge currently does. As you’d expect, the browser will import your settings and user info from Chrome or the previous version of Edge, but a lot of things haven’t been imported, such as the ability to annotate websites with a stylus. The synchronisation of settings, user info and extensions with your Microsoft account doesn’t work yet, either.
Edge will also be coming to the Mac, making it much easier to test websites in Edge. Before now, it has been hard for developers to test things in Chrome because so many of them use Macs. Edge for Android is already based on Chromium.
Businesses often use Edge as it’s the default in Windows 10 but many use Windows 7 and 8 as well. Edge will be available for those operating systems as well and it’ll be updated frequently like Chrome. Edge could also find fans if it doesn’t slow down systems, something Chrome is still prone to doing with a lot of tabs open.
We don’t yet know when the new version of Edge will be available, but it could be as soon as Microsoft’s Build developer event in early May.