Microsoft is replacing its Edge browser with the updated, Chromium-based version on January 15. Windows 10 users will be automatically transitioned over.
We already knew this was coming because Microsoft announced the new Edge’s launch date last month, but it wasn’t clear that users would be pushed to the new version. Thankfully it will look mostly the same as the existing Edge browser, with all the same proprietary Microsoft features, except for a slightly more Chrome-esque look.
The benefits of switching to Chromium — Since the new Chromium Edge will be based off the same browser as Google Chrome, Edge will now support all the same extensions. Last month developers were invited to port their Chrome extensions over to the Microsoft Store, with the company saying that most extensions could be transferred over without any additional work. Edge is the default browser for all 900 million Windows 10 users, so there’s obviously an incentive there to port extensions.
Being based off Chromium also means that any site optimized for Chrome will look the same in Edge, because they share the same rendering engine, and web developers won’t have to design their sites with Edge in mind. That’s important because Chrome is by far the most popular internet browser with a 70 percent market share.
Microsoft has taken steps to make it un-Google — Some might be displeased about the change due to opposition over Google’s business model. By developing on the open-source Chromium project, Microsoft is helping to improve Google’s browser, which it uses to collect data for advertising purposes. There was a brief uproar last month when world spread that Apple might rebuild Safari on Chromium, a rumor that was quickly killed to the relief of anti-Google, Apple loyalists. Microsoft has actually taken pains to introduce privacy features into its flavor of Chromium that will make it less permissive of the fingerprinting and other tracking methods that Chrome supports. Google has been slowly working to improve privacy in Chrome.
Microsoft says that enterprise customers won’t see their browser actually upgraded, but will rather have the choice to stick with the “traditional” Edge or the Chromium flavor.