Are you using Windows 10? If so, Microsoft is about to install a new browser on your PC via Windows Update. The new browser is still called Microsoft Edge, but it’s based on the same code as Google Chrome.
What Is the New Edge Browser?
The new Microsoft Edge is based on the Chromium open-source project. Chromium forms the basis of Google Chrome, so the new Edge feels very similar to Google Chrome. It includes features found in Chrome, supports Chrome browser extensions, and has the same rendering engine as Google Chrome.
If a website was designed for Google Chrome and didn’t work properly in the old Edge, it’ll now work properly in the new Edge.
Like Google Chrome, the new version of Microsoft Edge will be updated every six weeks. You won’t have to wait for major versions of Windows 10 released every six months just for browser updates, as you did with the Legacy Edge browser.
When Will You Get the New Edge?
Microsoft released the stable version of its new Edge browser on Jan. 15, 2020. You can download it from Microsoft’s website. After installation, it will replace the old Edge browser with the new version. The original version of Edge is now officially called the “Legacy” version of Edge.
Technically, the old Edge will remain installed for compatibility reasons, but Windows will hide it. You can tell you’re using the new Edge because it has a new logo. It’s a blue-and-green swirl rather than simply a blue “e”, as the old Edge was.
Microsoft plans to roll out the new Edge to all Windows 10 users via Windows Update. Microsoft hasn’t said when it will do this, but the company began testing an Edge update in Windows 10’s “Release Preview” channel for Windows Insider testers on Feb. 25, 2020.
We expect Microsoft will release Edge to all Windows 10 users via Windows Update around or before the release of Windows 10’s 2004 update, expected around April or May 2020.
Can You Stop Microsoft From Installing It?
You can stop Windows Update from installing the new Edge if you like, but we don’t recommend it. Windows Update will just replace the old Edge browser on your Windows 10 PC with a new, more modern one that works better. If you ignored the old Edge, you’re free to ignore the new Edge.
However, Microsoft understands that some businesses will want to block their PCs from installing the new Edge. Microsoft offers a Chromium Edge update blocker toolkit that will set a “DoNotUpdateToEdgeWithChromium” registry value, ensuring PCs don’t automatically download and install the new Edge.
Why Did Microsoft Ditch EdgeHTML for Chromium?
Microsoft announced it would replace Edge’s EdgeHTML rendering engine with the Chromium rendering engine in December 2018. That announcement was shocking at the time. After all, Microsoft had always gone its own way with web browsers. Even EdgeHTML was originally based on the Microsoft Trident rendering engine used by Internet Explorer.
Joe Belfiore, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President of Windows at the time, explained this decision was made “to create better web compatibility for our customers and less fragmentation of the web for all web developers.”
Even if you use Google Chrome, Microsoft’s work on the Edge browser will improve Chromium. Microsoft’s effort will make Chrome a better browser, too.
New Edge vs. Chrome: What’s the Difference?
While Edge and Chrome are now pretty similar under the hood, they’re still different. Edge strips out Google’s services and, in many cases, replaces them with Microsoft ones. For example, Edge syncs your browser data with your Microsoft account rather than a Google one.
The new Edge offers some features Chrome doesn’t. For example, Edge has a built-in tracking prevention feature and a potentially unwanted program (PUP) blocker. In keeping with the old Edge’s interface, there’s a favorites button to the right of the address bar on Edge’s browser toolbar. Microsoft is also porting other features from the old Edge over, including “collections” for capturing snippets of web pages and storing them in the same place.
You might prefer the new Edge if you trust Microsoft more than Google—or if you just want a browser with built-in tracking protection features and Chrome’s rendering engine.
Either way, Windows 10 users who stick with the included browser will now have a more modern, capable browser with an open-source rendering engine that’s updated more frequently and better supported by websites. That’s a win for everyone.
Does Edge Support Other Operating Systems?
Microsoft’s new Chromium-based Edge browser is available for Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 8, Windows 7, macOS, iPhone, iPad, and Android. Microsoft will even release a version of it for Linux in the future. Chrome already supports all these platforms, so that makes porting the new Edge much simpler for Microsoft.
The Browser Wars Haven’t Stopped
While Microsoft and Google engineers are clearly cooperating, there’s no truce in the browser wars. However similar their browsers now are, Google still wants you to use Chrome and Microsoft wants you to use Edge.
For example, you can install extensions from the Chrome Web Store in the new Edge. But, when you do so, Microsoft will warn you that extensions from the Chrome Web Store “are unverified and may affect browser performance.” After you agree to that, Google will warn you that it “recommends switching to Chrome to use extensions securely.”
Even though Edge is based on the same underlying code as Google Chrome, many Google websites will still show popups recommending you switch to Chrome. For example, when you visit Google News in Microsoft Edge, you’ll see a message saying Google recommends Chrome, encouraging you to “try a fast, secure browser with updates built in.”
Microsoft is recommending Chrome users switch to Edge, too. For example, Bing encourages Chrome users to download Edge. Windows 10’s Settings app says the new Edge is “recommended for Windows 10” when you’re choosing your default web browser, too.
Mozilla is in the line of fire, too. Microsoft is already showing “suggestion” ads in Windows 10’s Start menu recommending Edge over Firefox. “Still using Firefox? Microsoft Edge is here,” reads the ad.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.