Microsoft’s love affair with open-source is showing no signs of a slow down, with the company announcing plans to rebuild its Edge web browser with Chromium.
Edge is the default web browser on Windows 10, and helps power the “universal windows apps” experience.
Microsoft plans to rebuild its Edge web browser with Chromium
Chromium and the Blink rendering engine power everything, from the world’s most popular web-browser (Google Chrome) to famous desktop apps like Spotify and cross-platform software frameworks like Electron. It’s well-tested, works well, and has a lot of active development.
But while it helps heal fragmentation there is a danger that the web is becoming too reliant on just one specific technology, open-source and “forkable” though it is.
Microsoft plans to become ‘major’ contributor to Chromium
The company says it wants to get involved with and become a ‘major’ contributor to the Chromium project, and has specific aims of improving Chromium’s ARM support, and adding Windows 10 hardware optimisations, better touch support and greater web accessibility.
Although it’s a big undertaking Microsoft are saying users won’t see any big changes in the look, feel and functionality of the browser (other than better stability, support for more web experiences, and so on).
A early preview of the new Microsoft Edge is currently slated for release in early 2019.
But it gets even weirder.
Might we see Microsoft Edge on Linux?
Microsoft says it also plans to to bring Edge to ‘other platforms’, including macOS. On Apple devices it would be first time a Microsoft browser has run on the platform since 2003.
But what about Linux?
Edge switching to Chromium opens the possibility of Edge being available to use on Linux.
Now, Microsoft hasn’t said as much, and I’d imagine supporting an additional platform won’t be quite as simple as checking a box or adding a build flag.
But Chromium, Blink and related technologies support Linux very well (Chromium, Google Chrome, Chrome OS – all work on Linux, are developed on Linux, or rely on Linux in some way) so it’s not a impossibility.
Microsoft Visual Studio Code is already available on Linux, as are a score of other Chromium based web browsers, including Vivaldi, Opera and Yandex.
Only question is: if Edge for Linux was available, would you use it?