MICROSOFT HAS officially released a preview of its next-generation Edge browser, built on Google's Chromium engine.
After last month's leaks and a sandboxed release to Windows 10 Insiders, the first Nightly and Dev builds are now ready for anyone to download, despite masses of caveats - we can't stress that enough - this is not a daily driver yet.
Edge appears to be settling into a typical Chromium development cycle with Canary/Dev channels being flanked by more stable Beta and completely stable, erm… Stable channels. The first beta is due in about six weeks, alongside the next major update to Windows 10.
The first thing we need to tell you about the new Edge is that in our testing, it repeatedly froze our one-month-old laptop, emphasising that this really isn't one for the faint-hearted.
In between crashes, we were able to see that migration is insanely easy - everything ported from Chrome with a couple of clicks, whilst visually, it will feel incredibly familiar to anyone who has ever used a Chromium-based browser.
There's a lot of work still to do. If there wasn't we wouldn't be talking about it in such 'crashy' terms - it's only (fully) available in US-English, there's no casting of media, no built-in spellchecker, and most importantly, it's only available in Windows 10 - though we'd expect to see it expanded out to other versions of Windows and to Mac before any full launch.
Whilst there's some doubt over the eternal verities of Edge becoming one more Chromium browser, there's little doubt that Microsoft's might is going to have a positive effect on the open-source project.
Microsoft explains: "Along with what's visible in the browser itself, we've also begun to make contributions back to the Chromium open source project. These include areas like accessibility, touch, ARM64 and others. We're working directly with the teams at Google and the broader Chromium community on this work and appreciate the collaborative and open discussions."
If you do download it, don't just be a taker, contribute to the Edge Insider conversation too - it'll save us writing bitchy stories if it all goes to pieces at launch.
As if we would. µ
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