- by Tom Warren - The Verge - Monday, April 8, 2019
Microsoft is making its Chromium-powered Edge browser available to developers today. The software giant is releasing its Canary and Developer builds, offering daily or weekly updates to the changes that are coming to Edge. Both downloads are available on Microsoft’s new Edge insider site, and they are designed for developers to get an early look at how Edge is changing.
Microsoft has focused on the fundamentals of browsing, reliability, and extension support for this early version of Edge built on Chromium, and the company is looking for feedback about the basics to start. Encouragingly, this new Edge browser runs surprisingly well, with full support for existing Chrome extensions. Microsoft is even building in sync support for things like favorites, browsing history, and extensions to sync across Edge. Favorites is only supported in this early version today, but sync support will be gradually improved before this new version of Edge is more broadly available in a beta version.
Both Microsoft and Google engineers have been working together to improve the underlying Chromium project so that Chrome and Edge run better on Windows. Microsoft has had around 150 commits accepted into Chromium, paving the way for improvements to Edge and Chromium on Windows 10. That includes improving accessibility, smooth scrolling support, Windows Hello integration, and things like ensuring the touch keyboard shows up reliably.
“We’re working directly with the teams at Google and the broader Chromium community on this work and appreciate the collaborative and open discussions,” explains Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president at Microsoft. “These contributions represent work-in-progress and are not yet fully represented in the browser you can install today, so stay tuned.”
If you’ve already downloaded and installed the leaked version of Edge that appeared online a couple of weeks ago, you probably won’t notice many differences just yet. The browser looks and feels a lot like Chrome right now, although it appears to perform better during daily use. Microsoft is also working on adding its Fluent Design tweaks to this version of Edge, and some of the existing features like set aside tabs or inking might appear in the future.
Today’s Canary and Development builds are only designed for English 64-bit installations of Windows 10, and Microsoft is planning to support Windows 8, Windows 7, and macOS in the future. These early builds are really only designed for developers, but that’s not going to stop consumers from trying it out before beta builds are available in the coming months. You can try Edge built on Chromium today, and check out our full hands-on with the new browser right here.