Yesterday, Microsoft released the first preview builds of its Chromium-powered Edge browser for Windows 10. This comes after Microsoft announced last year in December that it will be adopting the Chromium open source project in the development of Microsoft Edge for desktop.
You can download these preview builds for testing from the Microsoft Edge Insider site. The new builds are available through three different Microsoft Edge Insider Channels: Beta, Canary, and Developer. Canary builds are the ones that will receive updates every night. Developer builds are much more stable than the Canary builds and will be updated weekly. Beta builds are the most stable ones as compared to the three and will receive updates every 6 weeks.
Right now, Microsoft is only opening the Developer and Canary channels. Though the company was not so clear about the timeline in the announcement, it does promises that the Beta builds and support for Mac and all the other supported versions of Windows will come in the future. However, there is no mention of whether this new overhauled Microsoft Edge will support Linux.
In these preview builds, the team has mostly focussed on the fundamentals. So, current users will not see an extensive range of features and language support. These new Chromium-based Microsoft Edge preview builds do look strikingly similar to Google Chrome. Among the similarities include subtle design finishes, a dark mode, and the ability to manage your sign-in profile.
In this Chromium-based Edge implementation, Microsoft has removed or replaced about 50 services that are included in Chromium. Some of them are Google Now, Google Cloud Messaging, and Chrome-OS related services. More details regarding the updates will be shared during a BlinkOn 10 keynote today.
These preview builds also bring support for an expanded selection of extensions. Users will no longer have to just choose from the limited set of extensions available on Microsoft’s store as extensions from other third-party stores like Chrome Web Store are also supported. Since this is based on Chromium, it also comes with support for Progressive Web Apps and supports the same developer tools as Chromium.
Microsoft is working closely with the team at Google and hopes to work with the broader Chromium community going forward. Their latest contributions to the Chromium open source project includes in areas like accessibility, touch, ARM64, and others. In the future, it plans to introduce smooth scrolling, a reading view free of distractions, grammar tools, and Microsoft Translator integration.
Users who have tested these preview builds are finding it unsurprisingly very similar to Chrome. One of the users are Reddit remarks, “To the surprise of no one, its basically chrome. Even my google account came in logged in automatically, same recent sites etc. I wonder if the roadmap will include things like dark mode, I never used the annotations feature so can’t vouch much for it. I’m yet to try to make a MS Teams call but looking good so far.” The Verge, after testing the preview builds, shared that the Chromium-powered Edge is showing even better performance than Google Chrome.
Many users are also saying that instead of joining hands with Google, Microsoft could have instead gone with Firefox to make the web fair and accessible. “I wish they’ve would have gone with Firefox’s Quantum, in order to try and at least balance out web market shares. MSFT no longer has any leverage in the web, so trying to keep it fair and accessible (no browser monopolies) should be a priority for them (especially since they have quite a few web platforms like office 365),” adds a redditor.
To read the official announcement, check out the Microsoft blog.