Microsoft is making the official beta of its Chromium-based Edge browser available today, August 20. The Beta channel is open to anyone running Windows 10, 7, 8/8.1 and/or macOS and the beta version is immediately available for download from the Edge Insider site.
The Beta channel is the third and final "preview" channel for Chromium-based Edge, also known unofficially by some of us Microsoft watchers as "Chredge." Microsoft already made available the Canary (updated daily) and Dev (updated weekly) channel builds of its new Edge browser. The beta version released today will be updated roughly once every six weeks.
Microsoft says there have been more than one million downloads of its Chredge preview builds downloaded on all supported platforms since the company began making test builds available in April this year.
Microsoft still isn't providing a target date as to when Chredge will be generally available, but it's unlikely to happen until either very late this year or sometime in 2020. Once it's deemed ready, it will go to the Stable channel and will be added to the new Windows 10 feature updates as a Store-updatable, inbox application. (It won't be tied any longer to Windows 10, so it does not have to release simultaneously with a new feature update, such as Windows 10 20H1.) At some point, Chredge -- which will just be called "Edge" just like Microsoft's current browser -- will replace the original Edge browser.
Microsoft officials are saying that the Chredge beta version available today is "ready for everyday use," even though it's not done yet.
Like the other preview channels, the Chredge Beta supports extensions from the Edge Insider Addons store or other Chromium-based web stores. Beta users can turn on tracking prevention for greater privacy. And the Beta supports a number of the previously announced enterprise features coming to the new Edge, including Internet Explorer Mode; integration with the new unified Microsoft Search (built into Bing); and support for Windows Defender Application Guard. (Here's Microsoft's roadmap for business users for Chredge, which it made public in July.)
Microsoft is continuing to add support for more features in Chredge, starting with the Canary and Dev channels. A new enterprise-focused new tab will be coming "soon" to Canary and Dev, officials said today. And Collections will be coming to the Canary channel today and to the Dev channel "shortly." Collections is a feature meant to help users collect, organize, and export information discovered via their browsers more easily.
Microsoft officials said yesterday that the Canary channel also would be adding an option to stop auto-playing video and audio on websites; improved scrolling; and a new favorites button on the toolbar. In October, the Chredge Canary channel will get inking on PDFs and other user-requested features.
In December 2018, Microsoft officials said they were redoing Edge so that it would be built on top of Chromium in the name of improving compatibility across the web. Chromium is an open-source browser implementation that is used as a base by several browser developers, including Google (with its proprietary Chrome browser), Vivaldi, Opera, Yandex, Brave, and more. Simultaneous with the launch of Chrome in 2008, Google released the bulk of Chrome's code as open-source, birthing Chromium in the process.