Why is the new version of Microsoft Edge based on Chromium? What does it mean for web app development?
Microsoft’s browser has recently received a big update. The Edge browser is now based on the same code as Google Chrome – it runs on Chromium. It’s an interesting turn in web development that may impact the future of web applications. If you want to know why Microsoft Edge is based on Chromium and what changes it brings – great, we cover all these questions below.
What is Chromium?
Chromium serves as a foundation of the Google Chrome browser. It is an open-source browser project by Google with an aim to enable a safer, faster, and more stable web experience for customers but also all web developers. The Edge Chromium release date that was January 15, 2020, was a big day in the IT industry and today makes us wonder what chain of events it will start.
How is Chromium related to Chrome?
Chromium is like the ancestor of Chrome but it’s more complicated as Chrome has all that’s inside Chromium but Chromium doesn’t have all that’s inside Chrome. They both have a lot in common but the main difference is the whole Google services that come along with the Chrome browser. Another interesting difference is the fact that Chromium collects and transfers less information to Google than Chrome. And that’s also the reason why some people have decided to switch their browsers.
Microsoft Edge Chromium vs Google Chrome
The difference between the new version of Edge and Chrome is, for example:
- Data synchronization. Obviously Edge does it through the user’s Microsoft account instead of a Google one
- PUP blocker. Edge is equipped with a tracking prevention feature and a mechanism that blocks potentially unwanted programs (PUP)
- Google services integration. Mentioned earlier, all Google benefits that Chrome offers but Edge doesn’t have yet
- Collection feature. Edge in a simple way allows users to store their favorite videos, images, information by using collection groups
- Internet Explorer mode. New Edge enables enterprise users to load old Internet Explorer sites
There is more to mention here but the transition to Chromium actually made the two browsers more alike than different. The new Edge browser even includes support for Google Chrome extensions.
Why they did it though
Because of many disadvantages connected to their previous rendering engine. The biggest unsatisfying result was the distribution so the volume of users on the platform. Since Edge was available only on Windows 10, there weren’t enough people using it and many still relied heavily on Chrome. The second problem was the fact that Edge wasn’t suitable for many web pages because it was built on a different engine than Chrome and Safari, so it didn’t follow the generic web standards. It resulted in some websites loading just wrong. Another thing was the updates. The Edge itself couldn’t be updated right away before the core OS update that was released every six months. Knowing all of the disadvantages, building their own engine wasn’t worth the effort.
Let’s put it all together
The most important reason why Edge is now a Chromium web browser is the instant web compatibility the company wanted so badly. Edge new version loads websites properly. Another reason is the need for independence in the regular update cycle. The ability to upload new features without waiting for the update of the entire operating system is a huge advantage for the product. And lastly, greater platform availability as now Microsoft Edge Chromium runs on Windows 7, 8, and macOS. It’s a huge benefit for all web developers using the system. It makes the testing and development process more accessible. RIP IE 11 🙂
What does it mean for web app development?
After discussing all of the changes and improvements, one may wonder what will happen with Microsoft’s app framework future? As we know, the UWP (Universal Windows Platform) is no longer a part of the Edge browser engine. It’s still the primary platform for developing future Windows products, however, developers now have more ways to bring apps to Windows 10. Microsoft even plans to make a new WebView for app development based on Chromium. All predictions come to one place which is making platform innovations available everywhere instead of limiting the development to UWP only.
Microsoft Edge Chromium offers great compatibility for websites and extensions. It provides high-speed performance, improved security, and a set of new tools for developers. It’s certainly a solid competitor to Chrome, Safari, and Mozilla and soon can steal some of their users.