As predicted, Microsoft has today rolled out the first preview of its new Chromium Edge for testers. The new next generation Microsoft Edge is built off Google's Chromium web-rendering platform that powers its own Chrome browser. Microsoft announced it would be switching to Chromium in December last year.
Microsoft has created three testing channels: Beta, Developer, and Canary. You may already be familiar with Canary as this is the preview channel for Chrome too. These are early preview releases that can be buggy and are update daily. Canary releases should not be run on your main PC.
Elsewhere, the Developer channel will deliver Chromium Edge builds that are more stable through weekly updates. Finally, the Beta release channel would be machine-ready previews that you could run as your core browsing experience. Needless to say, it is possible to run all three channels side-by-side.
At the moment, only the Canary and Developer channels are open. This means the more stable and useable Beta releases are not arriving until an undefined date in the future. Chromium Edge naturally receives the developer tools that underpin Google's Chrome so the two browsers will more or less be simultaneous builds.
Edge and Chrome
However, how Microsoft decides to leverage Chromium could still be different from Google. That said, we already know that Chromium Edge will support all Chrome Extensions. However, in preview, the number of available extensions is limited (but growing).
“We're working directly with the teams at Google and the broader Chromium community on this work and appreciate the collaborative and open discussions. These contributions represent work-in-progress and are not yet fully represented in the browser you can install today, so stay tuned. We look forward to continued engagement with the community to progress Chromium in these areas and others,” says Joe Belfiore, Microsoft's head of Windows and Edge.
As we have already seen, as well as gaining features from Chrome, Microsoft is also contributing to Chromium. By working with Google, Chrome and Edge will borrow features from each other. While this could make differentiating the experiences hard to do, Microsoft says its focus is on touch, accessibility, security, and ARM64 support.
Just this weekend, an example of the Edge team working towards improving Chromium came in the form of a new Focus feature. Added as a flag, the Focus mode would allow Chrome to alter distractions.
Already in testing on Chromium Edge, the feature allows users focus on productivity. This is achieved by opening a tab in a new window where just the content is displayed. Elements such as tabs, menus, bookmarks, and the address bar are removed.