For the past few years, Microsoft has meaningfully increased participation in the open source software (OSS) community, becoming one of the world’s largest supporters of OSS projects. Today we’re announcing that we intend to adopt the Chromium open source project in the development of Microsoft Edge on the desktop to create better web compatibility for our customers and less fragmentation of the web for all web developers.
As part of this, we intend to become a significant contributor to the Chromium project, in a way that can make not just Microsoft Edge — but other browsers as well — better on both PCs and other devices.
Making the web better for many audiences
Working with open source is not new for Microsoft Edge. Our mobile browser has been based on open source from its beginnings over a year ago. We’ve also used open source for various features of Microsoft Edge on the desktop (e.g. Angle, Web Audio, Brotli) and we’ve begun making contributions to the Chromium project to help move browsing forward on new ARM-based Windows devices.
Our goal is to do this in a way that embraces the well-established open source model that’s been working effectively for years: meaningful and positive contributions that align to long-standing, thoughtfully designed architecture, and collaborative engineering. Together we seek the best outcome for all people who use the web across many devices.
Ultimately, we want to make the web experience better for many different audiences. People using Microsoft Edge (and potentially other browsers) will experience improved compatibility with all web sites, while getting the best-possible battery life and hardware integration on all kinds of Windows devices. Web developers will have a less-fragmented web platform to test their sites against, ensuring that there are fewer problems and increased satisfaction for users of their sites; and because we’ll continue to provide the Microsoft Edge service-driven understanding of legacy IE-only sites, Corporate IT will have improved compatibility for both old and new web apps in the browser that comes with Windows.
Microsoft Edge + OSS: a new emphasis for Microsoft
Over the next year or so, we’ll be making a technology change that happens “under the hood” for Microsoft Edge, gradually over time, and developed in the open so those of you who are interested can follow along. The key aspects of this evolution in direction are:
1. We will move to a Chromium-compatible web platform for Microsoft Edge on the desktop. Our intent is to align the Microsoft Edge web platform simultaneously (a) with web standards and (b) with other Chromium-based browsers. This will deliver improved compatibility for everyone and create a simpler test-matrix for web developers.
2. Microsoft Edge will now be delivered and updated for all supported versions of Windows and on a more frequent cadence. We also expect this work to enable us to bring Microsoft Edge to other platforms like macOS. Improving the web-platform experience for both end users and developers requires that the web platform and the browser be consistently available to as many devices as possible. To accomplish this, we will evolve the browser code more broadly, so that our distribution model offers an updated Microsoft Edge experience + platform across all supported versions of Windows, while still maintaining the benefits of the browser’s close integration with Windows.
3. We will contribute web platform enhancements to make Chromium-based browsers better on Windows devices. Our philosophy of greater participation in Chromium open source will embrace contribution of beneficial new tech, consistent with some of the work we described above. We recognize that making the web better on Windows is good for our customers, partners and our business – and we intend to actively contribute to that end.
What happens next
If you’re a Microsoft Edge customer, there is nothing you need to do as the Microsoft Edge you use today isn’t changing. If you are a web developer, we invite you to join our community by installing preview builds when they’re available and staying current on our testing and contributions. We expect to have a preview build ready in early 2019 for you to try for yourself.
If you’re part of the open-source community developing browsers, we invite you to collaborate with us as we build the future of Microsoft Edge and contribute to the Chromium project. A few near-term examples will include continued work on ARM64 support, web accessibility, and taking advantage of other hardware features like touch support.
We look forward to sharing more details in the future as we test and learn. We are excited about the opportunity to be an even-more-active part of this community and bring the best of Microsoft forward to continue to make the web better for everyone.