The latest chapter of the â€œbrowser warsâ€ was written this week in a new Microsoft announcement: The operating system and cloud services companyÂ released a version of its Edge browser and revealed it now uses technology from Google.
It’s a big departure from the days a few years ago when the two companies were vying head-to-head for the browser market â€“ Microsoft with its technology, Google with its search engine.
â€œThe biggest and most controversial change in the upgraded Edge is a switch to a different browsing engine â€“ that’s the bit of a browser that interprets raw webpage code and converts it into what you see on your screen,â€ tech writer David Nield saysOpens a new window . â€œIt’s not the most visible feature for end users, but it’s hugely important to the way a browser works under the hood.â€
The Chromium engine in the browser was developed by Google, and it uses open sourceOpens a new window coding so that anyone can run it.
It’s also the basis for Google’s Chrome browser, the most popular web browser according to statistics compiled by the leading developer site w3schools.com. The Firefox browser, far behind, is No. 2, followed by Safari and Opera.
Firefox and Safari use their own technology; Opera uses Google’s.
Go go Google
Still, Microsoft’s technology decision is a big win for Google, because it gives Microsoft’s rival more power to determine how the web will be developed, including the coding languages and technologies favored by developers.
Microsoft says it went to Google to help its browser function better for commercial users and developers. â€œWe can create better web compatibility for our customers and less fragmentation of the web for all developers,â€ it saysOpens a new window .
â€œBetter compatibilityâ€ is Microsoft lingo for the fact that most businesses were slow to adopt the initial version of Edge because it didn’t work well with older apps.
â€œThe problem with introducing a new engine as Microsoft tried to do is that web developers have to account for (time and resources) when they code their pages,â€ Nield says. â€œIf they’re pushed for time or resources, they’ll only build sites to work properly with the most common browsing engines, and up until this point that hasn’t been Microsoft Edge.â€
Internet Explorer’s problems
The compatibility issue was made worse because Microsoft essentially abandoned its older but stable Internet Explorer browser when it introduced Windows 10 for Edge. It’s no longer supporting Internet Explorer with any web standards, yet many companies still rely on that browser for older web apps that have not been overhauled.
Microsoft asserts that its new Edge browser is the needed fix, and it is banking on large corporations switching to gain access to features that allow them to load the legacy sites automatically.
The Edge browser was originally developed to solve the compatibility problemOpens a new window but had been coupled with Windows 10, making adoption slow in the enterprise market. Microsoft’s decision to decouple it from Windows 10, still looked upon critically by some enterprise IT departments, should speed up the rate it replaces Internet Explorer as well as other browsers,
Despite the concessions it made to Google on the future of browser technology, Microsoft clearly hopes that the new browser’s security and compatibility benefits to users, including those who run Android and iOS, will pay off.
Edge is already receiving high marks for its speed from some analysts. â€œThe minute I started to waft along a few web pages, one thing seemed clear: this was perceptibly faster,â€ says Chris Matyszczyk, a technology writer.