Microsoft is building its own Chromium browser to replace Edge

Microsoft Headquarters
Microsoft Headquarters

Microsoft Edge is the browser that was tasked with replacing Internet Explorer, one of the first and most used Web Browsers in the early Internet days. With only three years of life, Microsoft may retire Edge sooner than we expect…

From Internet Explorer to Edge

Believe it or not Internet explorer was once close to a monopoly in the browser scene. Released in 1995, during the ’00 of the new millennium Internet Explorer had a whopping 95% market share! Microsoft had started to bundle IE along its flagship product, Microsoft Windows, to leverage its predominant position. For years IE would come preinstalled without any real possibility to uninstall it. This tactic has allowed IE to reign without little to no competition for years, until Firefox started eroding its market, but that’s a story for another time.

Fast forward a couple of years, in 2015, Firefox and Chrome have taken over the once brilliant Internet Explorer, Microsoft needed something new.

A struggling browser in the age of Chrome

The decline of IE was unstoppable but Microsoft had created what was needed, a new browser engine (EdgeHTML) and most importantly a new browser: Edge.

Microsoft Edge, codename “Spartan”, was released in July 29, 2015, the same day as Windows 10 in which Edge was bundled, Microsoft’s good old tactic. Its ambition? To replace Internet Explorer, once popular now declining, and to take back what Firefox and Chrome had gained during th years: users.

In three years since its inception Edge hasn’t made a dent in the browser market share with a mere 4% market share. As the time of this article Internet Explorer 11 is estimated to be around 6%. Clearly Edge hasn’t lived up to the expectations.

Edge is retiring, a new Chromium browser?

While IE was steadily losing its turf to Firefox, a new player came up: Google Chrome. Created by Google in 2008, it is now the most used browser in the world, also thanks to the expanding smartphone market. As a matter of fact Google Chrome comes preinstalled on Android, the most popular operating system in the world (does it ring a bell?).

What many Chrome users are oblivious of is the fact that their browser is based off an open source browser: Chromium. Chromium was started by Google as the base for the proprietary Google Chrome. The Chromium browser with its rendering engine, Blink (a fork of WebKit) is now the base for many other minor browsers such as Opera, Vivaldi, Brave and many others.

Microsoft has repeatedly tried to convince Chrome users not to use Chrome with pop-ups and quizzes about what they like about it. Well, that is no more. Microsoft has been working on a new Chromium-based browser, and it will soon reveal more details about it. Codename “Anaheim” is tasked with the same kind of task assigned Edge, using a different approach.

A Chromium world

With the soon-to-be-announced departure of Microsoft Edge (and its engine, EdgeHTML), the browser market is terribly close to a monopoly where Chromium is the ruler.

The only real alternative is Firefox and its browser engine Gecko. Mozilla is also working on another, rust-based, browser engine: Servo. Although Servo will bring Firefox to a newer level of speed and security it is unlikely to reverse the current market share. Or is it?

In the first place, Firefox drew users away from Internet Explorer thanks to its speed. Chrome became the king of browsers, once again thanks to speed. Mozilla has released Firefox Quantum earlier this year, a new version of Firefox boasting, you’ve guessed it: speed. Although the browsing speed in Firefox Quantum has been increased a lot, it still hasn’t allowed Firefox to recover the fall it has experienced in these years.

A great danger associated with Chromium-based browsers being at the top (aside security concerns) is outlined in The Verge’s “Chrome is turning into the new Internet Explorer 6”. Back in the day IE6 was troublesome to deal with for web developers, and allowed plugins such as Adobe Flash Player to prosper much longer than they should have.

Image courtesy of Robert Scoble

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The IT guy with a little boredom look in his eyes, fond of computers since forever he now works as a freelancer in the IT and shares his experiences through this blog.

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