Microsoft's decision to switch Edge to Chromium has been hailed as the right decision by many, but there are some who are very unhappy. Unsurprisingly, one of those is Mozilla, whose Firefox engine stands alone against the tech giants.
Speaking on a blog post, CEO Chris Beard accused Microsoft of “giving up on an independent shared platform for the internet”.
The Redmond giant's move cedes significant ground to Google, which is already dominant in the browser space. There are significant worries that the search giant will soon hold a monopoly over browsing.
While Beard concedes that Microsoft's decision makes sense from a business point of view, he believes it's damaging for the internet at large.
“From a social, civic and individual empowerment perspective ceding control of fundamental online infrastructure to a single company is terrible,” he said. “This is why Mozilla exists. We compete with Google not because it's a good business opportunity. We compete with Google because the health of the internet and online life depend on competition and choice. They depend on consumers being able to decide we want something better and to take action.”
Why is Diversity Important?
There's a number of reasons the end of EdgeHTML could be a bad thing. Browser engines are notoriously difficult and expensive to develop, but each tends to bring a unique approach. Firefox's Gecko Quantum allows for multithreaded processing for very fast rendering of graphics. EdgeHTML has a very close link to Windows' system resources, bringing numerous benefits.
With the switch to Chromium, the differences may be less pronounced, giving consumers less of a say in the direction the web evolves in.
It's worth noting, though, that Mozilla has personal reasons to be concerned. Though it's a non-profit organization, this move could spell a very difficult time for its browser. Developers may spend more time and resources on Chromium optimization, making it hard for Firefox to compete.
On the other side of the coin, Opera has praised Microsoft's decision, though it admitted the future of the web is uncertain.
“Switching to Chromium is part of a strategy Opera successfully adopted in 2012. This strategy has proved fruitful for Opera, allowing us to focus on bringing unique features to our products,” said a spokesperson. “As for the impact on the Chromium ecosystem, we are yet to see how it will turn out, but we hope this will be a positive move for the future of the web.”