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Cover image for Microsoft is building a Chromium based browser! 😲

Microsoft is building a Chromium based browser! 😲

nickytonline profile image Nick Taylor (he/him) Originally published at iamdeveloper.com Updated on ・1 min read

Photo by yu tang on Unsplash

This tweet says it all. Holy cow. Did not see that coming.


It's definitely good news for web devs. I also wonder if the move is to help push forward Desktop PWAs on Windows?

What are your thoughts on Microsoft's move?

Discussion

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nektro profile image
Meghan (she/her)

This is terrible news for devs. Microsoft developing a Chromium browser completely ruins the engine diversity that Edge brings to the ecosystem. I'm very upset by this news.

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nickytonline profile image
Nick Taylor (he/him) Author

I was going to bring this up in the initial discussion post, as the issue has arisen before when people were afraid of an all Chrome world, but i figured someone would bring it up. 👋

For web developers, I still think it's good though. The more we can focus on building applications the better.

I think your point is more about stifling browser innovation?

I'll leave these knowledge nuggets here:

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nektro profile image
Meghan (she/her)

So long as Chromium does not stagnate as a result of its market share, then I would agree it's a good thing.

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern

As long as Firefox is still serving a good amount of the market, things should only keep chugging along with Chromium.

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nektro profile image
Meghan (she/her)

I got a notification from one of my above comments and with the new chrome manifest announcement my trust in Firefox only grows stronger

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tiagomagalhaes profile image
Tiago Magalhães

Isn't future versions of Chrome powered by Blink, a Chromium fork?

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nektro profile image
Meghan (she/her)

Blink is the HTML rendering that they replaced their initial usage of WebKit (apples property) with.

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Tobias SN

They didn’t switch completely away, as Blink is a fork of the WebCore component, a part of WebKit.

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Lars Klopstra

I disagree with your statement, writing web applications as a developer would be way easier because they all share the same APIs and core, this will reduce the usage of poly-fills. This would be an significant improvement! :)

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nektro profile image
Meghan (she/her)

I agree. The only time this becomes worrisome is if Google ever gets to a point in the future where they do "okay, the web is good. we're done now" and then everyone's on the same engine so browser diversity and innovation come to a halt.

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rhymes

I don't know how to feel about this.

It's also going to be yet another browser to support, it's not like it's going to be identical to Chrome or that Edge and IE are going to disappear overnight :D

I wonder why they didn't choose Firefox's Gecko though

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nickytonline profile image
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rhymes

That's a reason to go against the current! Otherwise all browsers will be the same browser in the end.

There's value into building platforms on top of the same rendering engine but there's also value into not having one single rendering engine :D

I understand the choice Brave made because they have few resources, but Microsoft is huge :D I just hope someone will write an article about the choice so I can better understand it. I'm not saying it's wrong, just that I don't have a fully formed opinion.

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Keith Z-G

Gecko remains pretty damn impossible to embed into anything else. I suppose it's not like Microsoft wouldn't theoretically have the resources to make it happen anyways, but why put the extra effort in when it'll be less compatible and the compatibility is a primary reason they're doing it anyways?

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rhymes

Gecko remains pretty damn impossible to embed into anything else.

"It was updated a very long time ago" it's definitely not a good start :-D

I suppose it's not like Microsoft wouldn't theoretically have the resources to make it happen anyways

Yeah I guess

but why put the extra effort in when it'll be less compatible and the compatibility is a primary reason they're doing it anyways?

True, it's just that we risk having basically only single browser engine with just different shells.

I read people on Twitter speculating that MS will probably end up forking Chromium a few years down the road and manage their own version. Likely for the same reason why Blink was forked from WebKit.

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Christian Hartwig

Electron. They have So many Apps using Electron. When MS integrates Electron in Windows (as they do with EdgeHTML for Store Apps) they would need to contribute to two engines.

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rhymes profile image
rhymes

Electron

Right, I forgot about that. They already have a lot of in house knowledge around Chromium because of Electron.

I wonder if this new browser will be cross platform :D

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tunaxor profile image
Angel D. Munoz

That's what I hope for, also take in mind that winui has been made open-source yesterday so we might be able to see more "fluent" cross-platform interfaces some time in the future, including (hopefully) this browser

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Massimo Artizzu

Honestly, I'd rather have EdgeHTML made open source than ditched altogether. What's the point of this move, especially when we're talking about the modern, Nadella-driven Microsoft?

Many complain about the loss of diversity, but on the other hand Edge has done basically nothing to let us enjoy the results of such diversity:

  • as a browser, it's quite fast but still pretty "meh": it offers nothing that Chrome or Firefox don't offer already, and better;
  • feature-wise, it's not like old IE but a lot of standard features are still not supported by Edge (Web Components, above all);
  • its devtools are disappointing.

In short, Edge had the potential to become a bigger player but Microsoft had to commit. What's happened? Maybe they never signed enough engineers to move the project forward at an adequate speed?

From an economic point of view, keeping Edge probably made little sense to Microsoft, as it just doesn't make money, directly or indirectly.

So a reduced effort it is, but as a result it has never been enough to push Google, Apple and Mozilla to try harder. A missed chance.

Well, an engine less to worry about, at least.

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Tobias SN

I think it’s gonna be a step forward for the following reasons:

  1. When IE and Edge users switch to it, it means one less browser to support.
  2. Better compatibility overall.
  3. Old grandmas will have a better browser to use.
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jsn1nj4 profile image
JSn1nj4‍‍👨‍💻

IE will still be around haunting us somehow though. I still dread having to occasionally try to get its dev tools open; crashes the browser pretty easily.

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Tobias SN

Honestly, if IE was killed off after IE6-8, the Internet could have improved quite a bit. Too bad it only just happened 3 years ago. If it happened earlier however, It’d surely be pretty much gone by now.

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jsn1nj4 profile image
JSn1nj4‍‍👨‍💻

If a book were written on this topic, maybe it could be called "Tales of a Stubborn Software Company".

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bizzy237 profile image
Yury

now only if they released an OS update which would uninstall IE from all existing computers. a man can dream, right?

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Tobias SN

Problem is that they can’t just do that, as some apps still depend on IE to display HTML.

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jsn1nj4 profile image
JSn1nj4‍‍👨‍💻

And transfer all of their browser data so they don't know the difference.

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Thomas Schlage

As frontend developer I would say an ideal world would look like all big players contribute to one browser foundation which is free of any business interest. The whole render process should be the same for every browser in my eyes. Everything else just makes the life for application developers, browser developers and users harder. Browser developers have to implement everyhting again even if another browser already supports the feature x. Application developers has to work around missing features and users suffers from the conflict.
So in my eyes a basic browser where everyone contributes to would be very nice and lead to Firefox and Edge finally are on the same level as Chromium regarding feature support. I mean they didn't manage to support Shadow DOM API at all and Firefox just disabled service worker support again, how can that be?

From these base everyone can do what he wants and implement trackers or tracker blockers as he likes to do^

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Sung M. Kim

I consider diversity vs one browser platform has its ups & downs.

Diversity Advantages is

  • it promotes innovation by learning from each other.

Diversity Disvantages is

  • that it is hard to develop sites that works consistently across all browsers.

One platform advantage is

  • it's easy to standardize

One platform disadvantage is

  • that it could slow down innovation

Until I figure out exactly "why" Microsoft making the move,
I won't know exactly what to think of it.

So my stance is that, I will use those ups & downs to my advantage.

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Nick Taylor (he/him) Author

Whether you like it or not, builds of the new Edge are now available.

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Nick Taylor (he/him) Author

This definitely needs a read no matter how you feel about this move.

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Nick Taylor (he/him) Author

I also dropped this tweet which may see some action.

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Nam Nguyen

Every thoughts now are too early. Let's see the product first. anyway I belive in Microsoft this time.

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Nick Taylor (he/him) Author

Another good Twitter thread about this announcement in regards to browser diversity. cc: @nektro

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Kevan Mander

I wonder how close we were to big corporations planning to get off IE and how many technology roadmaps have been ripped up and now we are back waiting for big firms again to get away from IE 10-11.