Microsoft Windows 10 came with a new browser that was supposed to do battle with Google’s Chrome. Despite constant nagging and fiddling with default app settings, Microsoft has admitted that people don’t want to use Edge. So, it’s creating a new Edge based on the open-source Chromium engine. Now we’ve gotten our first glimpse of the new Microsoft browser, and shockingly, it looks like a Microsoft-y version of Chrome.
The outgoing Edge browser is a purely Microsoft product, running on a custom proprietary rendering engine called EdgeHTML. The argument could be made that Edge was better for Windows users in certain situations. For example, Microsoft constantly reminded us that it gets better browsing battery life than Chrome. However, Chromium is open source and generally works better across the web.
The leaked images of the Chromium Edge look comfortable and familiar. There’s the large address bar, extensions to the right, a profile icon past that, navigation buttons off to the left, and a start page with frequently visited sites. Of course, the search and start screen image are tied to Microsoft’s Bing service. There’s a news feed on the start screen as well.
The browser supports all of Edge’s add-ons (which were never numerous), but Microsoft should have support for Chrome extensions as well. The leaked screens come from a browser build on Chromium v74, which is in the developer channel right now.
This is still an early build of the browser, and it’s possible Microsoft will make more drastic interface changes before releasing it. Chrome doesn’t look anything like Microsoft’s “Fluent Design” apps, and it probably never will. Chromium Edge can hopefully split the difference with a more consistent Windows look and the features you’ve come to expect in Chrome.
It remains unclear what Microsoft hopes to accomplish with the new version of Edge. There are already myriad Chromium-based browsers available like Opera and Brave. If you want something else, there’s Firefox. If Microsoft thinks bundling Bing search into the same Chromium shell is going to attract users, it might want to think again.
So far, only Microsoft employees have access to new Edge builds, but we suspect access will come to the Microsoft Insider program soon. Microsoft has expressed its desire to get preview builds out in early 2019, and previous leaks pointed to a late 2019 release. When the new Edge comes out, it will run on more platforms than the EdgeHTML version. You’ll be able to get it on Windows 10, of course, but also older versions of Windows and MacOS.
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