Microsoft announced late last year that its Edge browser was being discontinued in favor of a new Edge browser based on the Chromium open source code. We’ve seen a few glimpses of the upcoming Edge refresh, but now Microsoft is rolling out the first official builds of Chromium Edge to testers. Why the delay? It had to rip out almost all the features first. Microsoft isn’t interested in Chrome, just its open source bones.
Microsoft is taking a Google-like approach to rolling out the new Edge. There will be three release channels: beta, dev, and canary. Google’s Chrome browser has a fourth “stable” channel that Microsoft will probably add when it’s ready to release the final consumer build.
The goal now is to update the beta channel every six weeks (no builds are currently available). The dev channel will see a new version ever yeek, and for the bravest testers, the canary channel will get new builds daily. The initial builds are only for 64-bit Windows 10 in English, but the new Edge could eventually work on more versions of the OS as well as other operating systems entirely.
In its current state, the new Edge looks and feels unfinished. That’s understandable. Microsoft is starting from scratch with the aim of making Chromium feel like part of Windows. That means it will introduce fluid design features and remove most of the Google-specific code. It looks like Chrome with an “Edge” theme. You can also sign into your Microsoft account, and searches in the address bar default to Bing. Microsoft has its own selection of extensions of the new Edge, but you can also get them from the Chrome Web Store. Be warned, they’ll probably break things right now.
Much of the unfinished vibe is because Microsoft removed so many features from Chromium, and the replacements are rudimentary or simply not available yet. See above for a list of all the services it removed or replaced. Features like PDF support, mobile sync, Chromecast, and Windows Defender Application Guard are still in the pipeline.
Microsoft has promised the launch the new Chromium-based version of Edge in late 2019. The developer previews have appeared right on time, though. Hopefully, this means Microsoft will have all its ducks in a row for a smooth transition to Chromium Edge later this year.
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