In September, Microsoft got called out by many for adding a "warning" pop-up in some Windows 10 preview editions that cautioned Win 10 users that Edge is the "safer, faster browser for Windows 10." The less-than-subtle implication was that if you use Chrome or Firefox on Windows 10 you're an idiot. Wiser heads prevailed and that pop-up didn't make to Windows 10 production code.

Now, four months later, comes news (also here, here, and here) that Microsoft Edge, the basket into which MS put all of its browser eggs, is now slated for "endangered species" status. These articles claim that MS is moving to a Chromium-based browser for Windows 10. Chromium is the open source HTML/JavaScript (comprising Blink and V8) engine that powers Google Chrome (and provides the underlying JavaScript engine for Node.js and Electron, the fat client harness for Node.js).

It's not yet known if this news portends a complete browser refresh for Windows 10 or whether the Edge brand persists with Chromium powering it.

Many developers on Twitter have expressed disappointment with this rumored announcement, saying that this move simply paves the way for Google to fully have its say, without competition, for solely decreeing Web standards far into the future. That horse seems to already be out of the barn to me. Given that IE still has about three times the marketing penetration of Edge's paltry 4% (after three years!), it's hard to believe that any MS browser would ever hold competitive or standard-defining sway over Chrome.

Browser market share, according to netmarketshare.com, through November 2018 (surveys vary, but most are within a few points of this one):

Browser Marketshare
Chrome 64%
IE 11%
FireFox 10%
Edge 4%
Safari 4%

While motivations aren't known this potential decision, it's not hard to understand that Microsoft is simply essentially throwing the towel because a) Edge had three years to gain traction and couldn't and b) it make sense to redirect the Edge team, or at least part of it, to revenue-generating initiatives such as Azure or AI.

What's an IT manager to do!?

I pity the IT manager needing to define enterprise desktop standards for 2019. The good news is that Web standards today impose a much higher degree of browser-to-browser interoperability than ever before. When a modern browser is slow at adopting a new standard it is nearly always Edge that brings up the rear. If Google Chrome makes bad Web standards decisions in the future, at least we'll all be victim to those bad decisions!

One other footnote: Why, oh why, is Firefox's market share so low? I gave Firefox another look after its "Quantum" update and it quickly pushed Chrome off my desktop for every-day browsing use. Chrome's developer tools still reign supreme for me, so I do keep it updated and available, but otherwise, Firefox's latest builds are awesome and I trust it to protect my privacy more than I do Chrome. If any browser has a chance to keep Google honest, it's Firefox. Beyond Firefox's numerous other attributes, it's my civic duty to use Firefox!

This just in!

The day after publishing this article, Microsoft officially announced that the Edge brand will persist and its rendering engine will be replaced with the Chromium engine. A preview build is promised for early 2019.



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