An official installer for Microsoft's upcoming Chromium-based Edge web browser has now been spotted on the company's servers by tech news blog HTNovo. The downside to the appearance of the executable setup file is that its installation is still limited to internal employees with associated emails signed in but a new group of users has been added to that list too. Namely, now it can be installed by developers holding a Microsoft Azure account as well.
That means that although the average user isn't going to be able to run the installable file, a wider field of developers can now start testing on the platform and ensuring that the switch to Chromium's Blink rendering engine hasn't caused problems. It also means that the launch of the browser should be imminent since the release moves tests beyond internal developers.
What this switch will mean ...for everybody
News of Microsoft’s impending switch to Chromium’s Blink engine is nothing new. Not only has Microsoft confirmed that the software is on the way and moved many of its top developers over to work on the open source project. Leaks of the incoming changes to the company’s browser UI have already begun to appear from even more internally-oriented testing.
Those prior leaks almost certainly don’t tell the entire story and leaks from the most recent testing phase will probably showcase even more distinctions if, and when, those begin to appear online.
In its current iteration, the new browser appears to look almost identical to Chrome, right down to the new page layout -- with its Bing-provided background as opposed to the Google-provided backdrop. Portions of Edge such as the scroll-down newsfeed on that page are still present as well and Microsoft seems to be launching its own extensions store that presently looks very similar to Chrome’s because it's populated by mostly the same extensions.
Another area where Edge is adopting a Chrome-like feel is in its Settings page, which will open as a tab rather than a slide-out menu.
Regardless of those changes that will undoubtedly raise hackles among some long-time fans of Windows and Edge, the incoming changes extend far beyond what the eye will immediately notice and that's a good thing.
To begin with, Google has worked closely with web standards organizations such as the W3C to implement and push a new string of standards that have, summarily, left Windows users with no choice but to use something other than Edge in many instances. That’s chiefly down to how Microsoft had been working its updates, with the new software installing alongside updates to the OS itself rather than as a standalone package. It’s also partially down to Microsoft’s failure to keep up with the changes across the board.
Using Blink will make things easier on both aforementioned fronts, translating to a better experience for end users while Microsoft will presumably continue with features its loyal fans have always loved in Edge. That means that developers will have an easier time too, translating again to a better experience with consistency, security, and usability for end users. Simultaneously, Chrome should gain from the addition of Microsoft’s software engineers to the Chromium community in much the same way.
Coming soon-ish maybe
As noted above, the new installer can only be used by select people and that should mean the official consumer-ready software will follow soon enough. This could, in effect, be viewed as the final testing period before Microsoft packages things up in a more user-friendly package for installation and begins advising users to update.
Conversely, Microsoft also hasn't provided a solid timeline for the release of its browser in anything approaching a final form. So there may still be unforeseen bugs that need to be squashed before that rollout can happen and it may be best not to get too excited just yet.