Microsoft Embraces Chrome to Save Its Edge Browser – Google Is Happy But Mozilla Not So Much…

Rafia Shaikh
windows 10 google chrome microsoft edge

Microsoft today confirmed rumors that the company is indeed moving its Edge browser to Google’s open source Chromium engine. The change in rendering engine will make Edge faster and also makes things easier for developers.

The Windows maker believes that this move will create better web compatibility for customers. Not only this, but the company will also be able to contribute to the Chromium project - a major move from Microsoft to contribute to the open source community.

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"We intend to adopt the Chromium open source project in the development of Microsoft Edge on the desktop to create better web compatibility for our customers and less fragmentation of the web for all web developers," the company wrote. "As part of this, we intend to become a significant contributor to the Chromium project, in a way that can make not just Microsoft Edge - but other browsers as well - better on both PCs and other devices."

Google welcomes Microsoft's decision to be a part of its open source ecosystem; Mozilla doesn't seem to be a big fan

In response to Microsoft's announcement, Google said it welcomes the Windows maker to the open source community. "Chrome has been a champion of the open web since inception and we welcome Microsoft to the community of Chromium contributors,” a Google spokesperson said.

“We look forward to working with Microsoft and the web standards community to advance the open web, support user choice and deliver great browsing experiences.”

Mozilla, on the other hand, doesn't seem to be happy with the two tech giants collaborating together. "This just increases the importance of Mozilla’s role as the only independent choice," a Mozilla spokesperson said in a statement. "We are not going to concede that Google’s implementation of the web is the only option consumers should have. That’s why we built Firefox in the first place and why we will always fight for a truly open web.”

"Microsoft is officially giving up on an independent shared platform for the internet," Mozilla CEO Chris Beard wrote in a blog post titled "Goodbye, EdgeHTML." Here's an excerpt from the piece (emphasis is ours):

By adopting Chromium, Microsoft hands over control of even more of online life to Google.

This may sound melodramatic, but it’s not. The “browser engines” — Chromium from Google and Gecko Quantum from Mozilla — are “inside baseball” pieces of software that actually determine a great deal of what each of us can do online. They determine core capabilities such as which content we as consumers can see, how secure we are when we watch content, and how much control we have over what websites and services can do to us. Microsoft’s decision gives Google more ability to single-handedly decide what possibilities are available to each one of us.

From a social, civic and individual empowerment perspective ceding control of fundamental online infrastructure to a single company is terrible. This is why Mozilla exists. We compete with Google not because it’s a good business opportunity. We compete with Google because the health of the internet and online life depend on competition and choice. They depend on consumers being able to decide we want something better and to take action.

Will Microsoft’s decision make it harder for Firefox to prosper? It could. Making Google more powerful is risky on many fronts. And a big part of the answer depends on what the web developers and businesses who create services and websites do. If one product like Chromium has enough market share, then it becomes easier for web developers and businesses to decide not to worry if their services and sites work with anything other than Chromium. That’s what happened when Microsoft had a monopoly on browsers in the early 2000s before Firefox was released. And it could happen again.

It remains unclear if Google's Chrome will get anything from this new partnership as Microsoft continues to keep Chrome out of its Windows Store. However, now that Edge will be based on Chromium, Microsoft won't have any excuses to restrict Store apps to its own rendering engine.

It will be interesting to see if Edge actually gains anything from going to Chromium if this means Chrome officially getting inside the Windows ecosystem and potentially becoming a bigger threat than it is right now. On the other hand, considering Edge is almost at the bottom, it won't hurt Microsoft to get rid of web compatibility issues and giving Windows users a built-in browsing solution that doesn't lag too much behind the competition. But Mozilla is right on one front - Microsoft's move has only cemented Chrome's position as the leading browser.

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