Microsoft reportedly looking to ditch Edge for Chromium

The world of web renderers could be down a significant member should Microsoft can its EdgeHTML renderer.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

Microsoft could soon shift to a Chromium-based browser in Windows 10, according to Windows Central.

The publication says the project is called Anaheim, and speculates that it would appear in the 19H1 development cycle.

Should the reporting be true, it would be the final capitulation of a company that straddled the internet, and attempted to stop it from developing further, after its victory in the 2000s browser war.

In 2014, due to the dominance of Blink and WebKit-based browsers -- that power Chrome and Safari, respectively -- Microsoft introduced support for Webkit HTML and CSS extensions.

Two years earlier, I wrote on the same topic:

Remember the days when designers and developers only cared about how their site looked in IE6, and couldn't or wouldn't care about the rendering in the Mozilla or Opera browsers? Those days are returning quickly as mobile sites 'enhance' their experience for WebKit browsers.

You'd think that we would have learned from the last time around.

The mobile web is dominated by Chrome and Safari to such an extent that Firefox is still not served up a full-featured Google search page, and Firefox users get an inferior version that does not have the tools bar that allow users to narrow searches down by date.

"We are focused on providing a great experience for search across browsers, and continue to work to improve this for all users," a Google spokesperson told ZDNet in July.

"Firefox uses the Gecko engine, which requires us to do extensive testing on all of our features to ensure compatibility, as it's different from WebKit (which is used by Chrome, Safari, UC, Opera). We've done this for Firefox desktop, but have not done the same level of testing for mobile."

Firefox is said to only hold a 5 percent share of mobile web usage, and anecdotally, there are plenty of pages on the web where you can tell the designer and programmer have failed to open the page in anything other than Safari or Chrome on their Mac.

While the desktop might appear to be different, it suffers from the same problem of the Blink/WebKit monoculture: If Chrome and Safari decide to do something, Mozilla and Microsoft need to follow to maintain compatibility.

As an exiled web developer from the turn of the century, there is little schadenfreude to be had over the potential demise of Edge. The web needs alternate renderers to stop companies from controlling the web and taking it in directions that only serve commercial interests, rather than the common good.

The web needs Microsoft to have its own rendering engine, and should Microsoft decide to tie its web future to the Chromium bandwagon, it will be IE6 all over again.

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