The amount of mingling of products in people’s lives often forces some reluctant collaboration among tech giants. Like if a piece of Microsoft software does not work on an Apple device, people tend to get upset. Small niceties between competitors make the whole market a better place. But rarely is there a level of collaboration as is currently happening with Google and Microsoft.
Chromium is Google’s lesser-known open-source browser project. It is basically a stripped-down version of Chrome and the engine that the browser runs on. Google made this honey-hole available to the public to be examined and adjusted by users and organizations alike. It has since been used as the foundation of several small browsers like Vivaldi and Opera.
Now, a major player is moving its browser to operate on the foundation of Chromium. Microsoft Edge will no longer be exclusive to Windows 10. Microsoft has made a push in the last year to encourage open-source projects. After acquiring GitHub, the developer focused website, Microsoft CEO said, “We are all in on open source”. And their recent move shows that this was true.
Microsoft Edge is now integrated with Chromium in a way that utilizes the source code from Google while integrating the things that Edge does well.
What does it Mean?
This is an exciting development for those of us who are mere bystanders to the browser wars. Basically, it means that both browsers are going to improve. Since Microsoft will be using the Chromium engine on Edge, they are going through the process of making it the best they possibly can. They have already made improvements to boost smooth scrolling, memory management, and functionality on touchscreen devices. Planned improvements include startup speed and battery saving measures.
As Microsoft make improvements, they are immediately available to Google for integration into Chrome. Even though they are helping Google in some ways, Microsoft believes it is worth it to have a more viable browser than previous versions of Edge. Chrome still dominates the market, but perhaps Microsoft can gain a heftier piece with their, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” approach.
Where are we Now?
Chromium-based Edge is already available to the public, though not widely promoted and not standard on their devices. Microsoft is making weekly changes to the browser and fanatics can follow along with the latest versions. There have been some issues with Google services running on the new Edge. Both YouTube and Drive have experienced issues and taken a while for Google to fix. Pettiness experts have yet to determine if this was intentional or not.
The new Edge even runs on MacOS. Which, when you think about it, is kind of adorable. A Microsoft browser running on a Google engine operating on an Apple OS. All is right in the world.
This little saga is a beautiful example of healthy competition that benefits everyone, especially users. We now have more viable browser options and improvements happening all around. It will be interesting to see how this all shakes out. How will consumers receive the new Edge and will it be enough to steal some users from Chrome? Will Google be reluctant to assist Microsoft? And who will benefit the most from this arm-distance partnership? Either way, we will all soon be surfing with slightly more pleasure.