Microsoft asks Edge Insiders for help with its new browser development

After announcing its plans to rebuild Edge on Windows 10 by using Google’s open-source Chromium engine, Microsoft is soliciting the help of its Windows Insiders community to shape the development of its browser. Microsoft created a sign-up page for users to become an Edge Insider to test preview builds of the browser.

Microsoft announced this week that it was shifting away from its own EdgeHTML rendering engine to develop the browser to use Google’s Blink rendering engine moving forward. Though this is a dramatic shift for Microsoft, which has been pushing the Edge browser since Windows 10 debuted, the company justified this change, noting that the move will help to “create better web compatibility for our customers, and less fragmentation of the web for all web developers.” Effectively, this means that Microsoft will rely on Google’s Chromium code.

The shift to Chromium won’t happen until early 2019 when Microsoft begins launching beta builds of the browser. Edge Insiders will have an opportunity to provide feedback and be among the first to experience how the new Edge performs. “We expect to see Windows 10 move to this Chromium-based version of Chrome sometime in 2019,” The Verge said, noting that Microsoft still needs to make the necessary changes to Windows before the change can happen.

In addition to soliciting the help of Windows 10 faithful, Microsoft is also asking the open-source Chromium community to help it shape the future of Edge. “If you’re part of the open-source community developing browsers, we invite you to collaborate with us as we build the future of Microsoft Edge and contribute to the Chromium project,” Microsoft Corporate Vice President of the Essential Products Group Joe Belfiore said in a report published by The Verge. “We are excited about the opportunity to be an even-more-active part of this community and bring the best of Microsoft forward to continue to make the web better for everyone.”

Though Microsoft’s change in direction was welcomed by Google, rival Mozilla, which makes the Firefox browser, is wary about Edge’s future reliance on Chromium. “This just increases the importance of Mozilla’s role as the only independent choice,” a Mozilla spokesperson told Venture Beat. “We are not going to concede that Google’s implementation of the web is the only option consumers should have. That’s why we built Firefox in the first place and why we will always fight for a truly open web.” As part of its marketing push, Mozilla often claims that it is the only independent developer of a browser, meaning that Firefox isn’t tied to a large corporation with its own interests. Chrome users, for example, had called out Google in the past for using its browser to further the company’s advertising objectives.

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