Microsoft has confirmed the rumors that it will base its Edge browser on the open-source Chromium browser. Edge is currently the default browser on Windows 10. By using Chromium, the company will be able to bring Edge to older Windows versions and macOS as well.
Joe Belfiore, Corporate Vice President in the Experiences and Devices division at Microsoft, explains the change in a blog. According to him, the change to Chromium should ensure better “web compatibility” and “less fragmentation of the web”. The latter should help developers, which have to optimize their code for less browser engines this way.
Microsoft also plans to become a “significant contributor” to the Chromium project and the company writes that its contributions will not only improve Edge, but also make all Chromium browsers better. Belfiore also argues that open-source isn’t new for Edge, as its mobile browser is already Chromium based.
With the release of Edge, Microsoft announced that the browser was deeply integrated to Windows 10 and could not run on other operating systems, including older Windows versions. By moving to the Chromium engine this will change. In today’s blog post Belfiore states that Microsoft plans to bring Edge to all supported versions of Windows and also to Apple’s macOS. He also adds that the browser will be more frequently updated.
By early 2019, Microsoft hopes to have a first preview build ready for developers.
All changes are likely done to get on par with competing browsers and to win more users. Although Edge is the default browser on Windows 10, it currently has a market share of 4.22% according to Netmarketshare. A year ago, this was 4.61% and over the last year it has remained fairly stable with a trend very slowly downwards. Google Chrome is by far the most popular browser with a market share of 65.57%. Even the outdated and unsupported Internet Explorer is still more popular than Edge with a market share of 9.64%.