The effects of coronavirus are being seen even with Microsoft's Edge browser. The development team has announced a temporary pause on new features but will continue to deliver security and stability updates.
Google, it seems, is a major influencing factor in this decision. The Chrome team announced a temporary halt to its stable builds on March 19 as schedules adapt to the global pandemic and new work from home requirements.
“This week, majority of our team found ourselves in a fast changing time keeping social distance from each other (not to forget, part of our team has been experiencing it for a while),” said Chrome developers on Twitter previously.
In light of the current circumstances, the Edge team will pause updating the Stable channel to Edge 81 consistent with the Chromium Project. We are committed to continued security and stability updates to Edge 80. We'll have more to share on this next week. https://t.co/nWfm87MEK2
— Microsoft Edge Dev (@MSEdgeDev) March 20, 2020
Microsoft says it'll have more to share on its decision this week, but it will continue to update its beta and canary channels. The main concern is likely that pushing stable builds right now could lead to the shipping of bugs that haven't been caught due to reduced in-person collaboration, absences, and other distractions.
Exactly how long this pause will be in-place is unclear at this time. Neither the Chrome nor Edge dev team have put a date on their return, but I'm sure users can handle the lack of new features given the circumstances. Other than some privacy concerns, the browser is working just fine right now.
Still, this does highlight Microsoft's reliance on Google in an interesting way. When it decided to adopt Chromium for its new browser, some raised concerns about what a lack of engine diversity would do for the industry. We're seeing some of the effects of that now, with Edge's update reliant on underlying engine improvements.
Ultimately, though, these are extreme circumstances that we don't expect to see repeated. It's in Google's best interests to regularly update its browser and an EdgeHTML team likely would have experienced similar disruptions. With hope, we'll get more details about this decision, and the return to normalcy, very soon.