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Microsoft Edge Chromium browser

Microsoft’s Edge Chromium browser will launch on January 15th with a new logo


For more than a decade, Microsoft’s browser developers have been wandering in the wilderness.

The results in terms of browser usage are dire. According to the most recent stats from the U.S. Government's Digital Analytics Program, less than 16% of traffic from Windows 10 PCs comes through Microsoft Edge, and even Internet Explorer has a higher share of usage. That's down significantly from the 20% share Edge had on Windows 10 PCs in 2017.

Meanwhile, Chrome's usage share on Windows 10 is above 60%.

Microsoft is planning to release its Edge Chromium browser early next year with a new logo. The software maker is targeting January 15th as the release date for Edge Chromium, with availability for Windows 10, Windows 7, Windows 8, and macOS. Microsoft is releasing what it calls a “release candidate” today, which should demonstrate most of the final work that will make it into the stable release in January.

It comes only a few months after Microsoft released the beta version of Edge, with a promise of a full release in early 2020. This new release candidate build will include sync support for passwords, history, favourites, and settings across Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. It also includes Microsoft’s new built-in tracking protection, which is enabled by default.

Microsoft is also introducing a new logo and icon for Edge. While the previous version looked a lot like Internet Explorer, the newly designed logo looks more like a wave. It’s the first significant move away from the classic blue “e” logo that Microsoft has used for its browsers for more than 20 years. Microsoft revealed the new logo in an elaborate Easter egg hunt over the weekend.

Microsoft is also bringing some new business-focused features to Edge. You’ll be able to type in the address bar to find co-workers, office locations, floor plans for a building, and even get definitions for company acronyms. It’s all part of Microsoft Search in Bing, which is built into Edge. It’s designed to combine typical intranet searches into an interface where you can also search the web using Bing.

Two decades into the 21st Century, it seems nearly impossible to imagine that Microsoft was once the undisputed champion of the World Wide Web. The journey from absolute dominance to also-ran has been a slow and steady succession of missteps, complicated by aggressive antitrust regulators on two continents and relentless competition.

Will the move to an open-source engine and a renewed focus on privacy finally bring Edge into the mainstream? If history is any guide, the odds of its success are low.

Consider this timeline:

  • 1995: Microsoft releases Internet Explorer with the first OEM version of Windows 95, putting its flagship browser on hundreds of millions of PCs within a few years. That release is followed by versions of Internet Explorer for the Mac and Linux.
  • 2001: After losing a gruelling antitrust case in the United States, Microsoft releases Internet Explorer 6 and then essentially stops developing the browser, ending support for non-Windows versions.
  • 2004: Mozilla Firefox rises from the ashes of Netscape and begins taking market share from the increasingly insecure Internet Explorer.
  • 2006: After a series of painful security issues, Microsoft releases Internet Explorer 7 with tabbed browsing and some security fixes, but it does little to stem the loss of browser share.
  • 2008: Google Chrome launches; within a few years it will pass Firefox as the most popular Internet Explorer alternative, and less than a decade later it will be the new undisputed browser champ across multiple platforms.
  • 2012: With the release of Windows 8, Microsoft doubles down, literally, on Internet Explorer, adding a so-called Modern Internet Explorer to the mix. It's even less well received than its host operating system and development stops within two years.
  • 2015: With Windows 10, Microsoft releases an all-new browser, Microsoft Edge, built on a new rendering engine called EdgeHTML, with the goal of standards compliance rather than backward compatibility.
  • 2019: Microsoft announces it will leave EdgeHTML behind and use Google's Chromium as the rendering engine for the next version of Edge.

A release candidate is available to download today:



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