MICROSOFT'S RIVALS have given a cautiously optimistic welcome to the decision by the company to rebuild its Edge browser using the Chromium code base.
The change, which will happen in 2019, will leave Firefox as the last bastion of browsers not to use Chromium, the open source version of Google Chrome, excepting Safari of course, which is a law unto itself.
For its part, the Mozilla Foundation, which makes Firefox, said in a lengthy statement from CEO Chris Beard:
"Microsoft is officially giving up on an independent shared platform for the internet. By adopting Chromium, Microsoft hands over control of even more of online life to Google.
"This may sound melodramatic, but it's not. The "browser engines" — Chromium from Google and Gecko Quantum from Mozilla — are "inside baseball" pieces of software that actually determine a great deal of what each of us can do online.
"They determine core capabilities such as which content we as consumers can see, how secure we are when we watch content, and how much control we have over what websites and services can do to us. Microsoft's decision gives Google more ability to single-handedly decide what possibilities are available to each one of us."
It goes on to suggest we try Firefox. MRDA.
Jon Van Tetzchner, the brains behind Opera and now Vivaldi, which both run on Chromium points out that competition is actually a good thing in a statement to INQ:
"It is an interesting move by Microsoft and in many ways it reminds me of the move Microsoft made with regards to the Web, after first competing with it and loosing, but then using their now famous embrace, extend, extinguish path.
"Clearly Microsoft struggled with being competitive, which was an issue originally created by them selves being incompatible with web standards, which is a benefit when you are the standard, but is a liability when you are not.
"However, it is sad to see a web engine disappear. It is better for the web to have competing implementations. It will be interesting to see how Microsoft and Google engage as competitors on the same code base, both short term and long term."
Van Tetzchner's former company Opera, offers praise, with a hint of ‘told you so':
"We noticed that Microsoft seems very much to be following in Opera's footsteps. Switching to Chromium is part of a strategy Opera successfully adopted in 2012.
"This strategy has proved fruitful for Opera, allowing us to focus more on bringing unique features to our products. As for the impact on the Chromium ecosystem, we are yet to see how it will turn out, but we hope this will be a positive move for the future of the web."
For coders, the change will be a largely positive one, with no more need to make sites work compatible with EdgeHTML. This should mean websites and webapps are a lot easier to roll out, as only Firefox and Safari have to be considered beyond Chromium.
For end users, it means a consistent experience, the option to choose Edge on other operating systems like Linux and Mac, and even the arrival of UWP browsers from Chrome and Opera - something that is currently barred.
But for the end-to-end industry, its a homogenisation which effectively hands Google first place in the browser battle. We just hope that gaining cross-browser extensions is worth losing one of the few alternative engines.
Plus - lest we forget - if Microsoft can make a Chromium browser, it can make a Chromium operating system too, to try and bury Chromebooks once and for all. That'll be interesting. μ
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