Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Microsoft EdgeHTML Replaced by Chromium

Zac Bowden (via Wojtek Pietrusiewicz):

Microsoft’s Edge web browser has seen little success since its debut on Windows 10 in 2015. Built from the ground up with a new rendering engine known as EdgeHTML, Microsoft Edge was designed to be fast, lightweight, and secure, but it launched with a plethora of issues that resulted in users rejecting it early on. Edge has since struggled to gain traction, thanks to its continued instability and lack of mindshare, from users and web developers.

Because of this, I’m told that Microsoft is throwing in the towel with EdgeHTML and is instead building a new web browser powered by Chromium, which uses a similar rendering engine first popularized by Google’s Chrome browser known as Blink. Codenamed “Anaheim,” this new browser for Windows 10 will replace Edge as the default browser on the platform, according to my sources, who wish to remain anonymous.

Update (2018-12-05): Kuba Suder:

This is so stupid, we’ve spent like a decade fighting the IE monoculture, only to replace it now with a Chrome monoculture And that basically leaves 3 engines on the market, 2 of which share common history.

Update (2018-12-06): Joe Belfiore (Hacker News):

Microsoft Edge will now be delivered and updated for all supported versions of Windows and on a more frequent cadence. We also expect this work to enable us to bring Microsoft Edge to other platforms like macOS. Improving the web-platform experience for both end users and developers requires that the web platform and the browser be consistently available to as many devices as possible. To accomplish this, we will evolve the browser code more broadly, so that our distribution model offers an updated Microsoft Edge experience + platform across all supported versions of Windows, while still maintaining the benefits of the browser’s close integration with Windows.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

Gotta wonder why Microsoft didn’t co-opt Chrome long before this; why would anybody go download Google’s Chrome if the built-in Windows browser is basically the same thing

David Heinemeier Hansson:

Sad to see Microsoft throw in the towel on their own browser rendering engine. The web doesn’t benefit when developers are encouraged to “just test in Chrome” through consolidation. We need a strong, diverse set of browsers. HANG IN THERE FIREFOX!

Steve Troughton-Smith:

Microsoft Edge coming to the Mac will be the first time Microsoft’s flagship browser has been on the platform since Internet Explorer 5.2.3, 15 years ago

Cabel Sasser:

IE Mac was the first browser to support alpha channeled png’s which we used on the Audion faces page for live previews with dragging etc.! And which Microsoft then used for press demos! What a great browser back then — incredible and groundbreaking

Steve Troughton-Smith:

IE for Mac’s download manager & progressbar icons for in-progress downloads were some of my favorite features. Took Safari a while to pick that up

John Siracusa:

It was also the first browser on the Mac to have decent CSS1 support. It was the web developer’s browser for a while.

Jimmy Grewal:

My favorite release of Mac Internet Explorer was the bootleg version 5.5 we put together at MacHack 2000 that was only available on the MacHack CD. 48 hours of caffeine & sugar fueled coding by @t, @sfalken, and @MafVosburgh...built & tested by me.

Jesse Vincent:

“Konqueror” always felt like it was a bit much for a browser name. Now I can see that it was just prescient.

See also: Zac Bowden, Tom Warren, MacRumors.

Update (2018-12-07): Chris Beard (Hacker News):

From a social, civic and individual empowerment perspective ceding control of fundamental online infrastructure to a single company is terrible. This is why Mozilla exists. We compete with Google not because it’s a good business opportunity. We compete with Google because the health of the internet and online life depend on competition and choice. They depend on consumers being able to decide we want something better and to take action.

Will Microsoft’s decision make it harder for Firefox to prosper? It could. Making Google more powerful is risky on many fronts. And a big part of the answer depends on what the web developers and businesses who create services and websites do. If one product like Chromium has enough market share, then it becomes easier for web developers and businesses to decide not to worry if their services and sites work with anything other than Chromium. That’s what happened when Microsoft had a monopoly on browsers in the early 2000s before Firefox was released. And it could happen again.

Oluseyi Sonaiya:

The ideal behind Web Standards is that the specification is implementation-independent, and that competing implementations drive different vendors to improve. If the majority of browsers coalesce around a single implementation, though, we lose that impetus.

Rui Carmo:

I’m actually kind of sad about this because it risks turning the Web into a monoculture again. Even if it does have the potential of making it substantially easier to build and maintain web sites in the long run.

John Gruber:

This is really rather stunning news, especially when you think back to the browser war in the 1990s. And I don’t think it’s a good thing for the web.

Update (2018-12-10): Owen Williams (via Meek Geek):

Yes, that’s right: not only will Microsoft shift to Chromium as its rendering engine, it’ll begin shipping Edge across all supported desktop devices on the planet, and it’ll start building it into the web platform within Windows.

This is huge news for the industry across the board, and is poised to propel the web to a first-class experience on par with native application development, as well as making it a much better experience for a broad swathe of internet users who might not have power over what browser they’re using.

The web has already swallowed native application development whole, but it’s about to get a lot better.


The strategy differences here are very different to that of Apple, which has largely ignored any feature of the open web that might threaten its own dominance. There’s no web-based notifications in Safari on iOS, or the ability to execute tasks or caching in the background, and so on.

I kind of wish Apple would switch to Chromium as well. With the rest of the world—especially on the desktop—mostly using the same browser, even popular sites can’t always be bothered to make things work well with Safari.

Dan Masters:

For all the criticism Google receives regarding Chrome, they've added some very pro-consumer features over the years.

This one is particularly interesting, as we usually associate sneaky subscription signups with native apps, but it clearly is a problem on the web too.

Update (2018-12-11): John Gruber:

Which, in turn, makes me wonder what the endgame will look like with Microsoft adopting Chrome. Is Microsoft really going to stick with Chrome, under Google’s ultimate control, or will they fork it, the way Google forked WebKit?

Dan Masters:

I’ve seen the same problem[…]

Update (2018-12-19): Jack Wellborn:

Switching to Chromium in particular contributes to the problem that gave us awfulness of Internet Explorer – lack of diversity. Chrome controls somewhere between 60 and 70% of browser share, and while that’s no where near Internet Explorer’s former dominance, there have already been a handful sites that are Chrome-only/Chrome-first. Even more worrisome is the number of other Web Developers that disdainfully treat non-Chrome browsers as aberrations.

See also: Hacker News.

4 Comments RSS · Twitter

I doubt Microsoft will fork Blink right away, but perhaps down the line if their needs diffe from Chromium trunk. Then again, seems like the real promise for differentiating comes from finessing features and interface, not futzing with rendering and JavaScript engines. I like Blink on Android and it's just Chromium under the hood, just like Chrome, the latter of which I detest. As one example of this trend.

I still use Firefox on desktop. I do like choices.

PS Gruber does know Microsoft is adopting Chromium, not Chrome? And that Blink is analogous to Webkit? Surprised his wording was so sloppy. Regular people won't know the difference but guy is a tech pundit.

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