Owen Williams is a freelance writer and developer who thinks of new ways to get the news. He created Charged…
Owen Williams is a freelance writer and developer who thinks of new ways to get the news. He created Charged (19659002) https: // char.gd ) an independent technical newsletter and blog that helps people stay up to date with the news.
After more than 20 years of relevance to the Web, Microsoft plans to scratch the underlying architecture of its browser for the benefit of Chromium.
The only thing is monumental and the internet responded with both cheers and hesitation as you expect: Internet Explorer is older at last!
But we only learned the full picture, with Microsoft announcing the move on GitHub Thursday, and it’s even bigger than we might have dreamed about. Not only will Edge use Chrom as its rendering engine, but Microsoft is actively investing in developing the open source engine further to optimize it for each device it concerns.
A rendering engine is the software that the browser uses to display web pages. Different display engines have different characteristics and properties, maintained by their own parent companies, with the largest used today by Mozilla, Google, Microsoft, and Apple.
Here’s a bit of the company’s long detailed post about why it makes this change:
“We will develop Microsoft Edge app architecture, enabling distribution to all supported versions of Windows including Windows 7 and Windows 8, as well as Windows 1
0. We will also bring Microsoft Edge to other desktop platforms, such as Mac OS. Enhanced web experience for end users (better compatibility) and developers (less fragmentation) requires a consistent web platform as widely available as possible. To achieve this, we use Chromis platform application technology along with a change in our distribution model, allowing Microsoft Edge experience and web platforms to be available for all supported operating systems. “
Yes, that’s right: Microsoft will not only switch to Chrom as its rendering engine, but will start start sending Edge over all supported desktop devices on the planet, and it will begin to build it on the Windows web platform.
This is huge industry news across the board and is ready to drive the web to a first-class experience in line with built-in application development and make it a much better experience for a broad swathe of internet users who might do not have the power over which browser they are using.
The Web has already extinguished built-in application development throughout, but it will be much better. These are some of the reasons why the news is exciting, and it will open the next chapter for the web:
Browser as First Class Citizen
One of the biggest problems today is despite the popularity of Krom , it’s really not that good at the resource front: it drains battery, hog’s system resources and usually does not play well. This has largely been because Google and Chrom do not own their own operating system (outside of ChromeOS) and do not have exclusive access to low-level system interfaces that Safari and Edge have had.
Since Microsoft and Apple have historically had their own web browser. Chrom was always meant to be worse: the project simply does not have the platform resources that these giants had and always built a layer further than the official browsers on each platform.
This move changes everything about that equation. Microsoft can bake Chrome in Windows and Edge Browser at the core, which means that it’s possible to embed a first-rate experience in all apps with a built-in Windows Chrom view, and porting it to MacOS :
“Outside of the Microsoft Edge browser, users of other browsers on Windows computers sometimes face inconsistent performance kits and performance / battery life over device types. Some browsers have had slower progress to embrace new Windows features like touch and ARM processors. As you know, we have recently begun to provide these types of hardware support to Chrome-based browsers, and we believe this approach can be generalized. “
Microsoft essentially explains that It will deliver a top web browser experience, no matter what platform you develop, with exactly the same engine on each device. It not only plans to optimize Windows for Chrom, but it will also share that work and transfer it to ARM-based devices such as iPhone and so that it is resource-efficient at the absolute core: OS level.
But what really matters is what comes from all this work: the absolute best way to build platforms on a scale we’ve never seen before.
The Web as a Stationary Platform
If you’re a business of any size and you want to build an app for desktop or portable users, it’s definitely the best choice out there today. It is no coincidence that Microsoft acquired GitHub, which happens to come with a small project called Electron as part of that acquisition.
Many popular apps claim Electron under the hood, including Slack, Visual Studio Code, WhatsApp Desktop, and many others, largely because it is so easy to target multiple system types with a single common language below.
Electron today has a major disadvantage: it is based on the Chromium browser, which means it is bundled with an entire instance for each application that uses it on your machine. Having Slack and Chrome open, for example, accommodates two isolated Chromic instances, both consuming resources to do the same.
This shift makes it easy to imagine a common thread for Chrome on top of Windows, which may be accessed by any electronically-based instance. Such a change would allow Electron apps to be more efficient, stable, and more friendly to system resources (especially memory and battery.)
Not only that, but because Microsoft provides technical resources to every Chromium- based browsers, electronically-based apps will have a darker, user-friendly experience to boot, which makes the convertible drive scene truly replace laptops.
If Electron was already overwhelmingly any platform despite its huge constraints this will open a new wave of web based apps on the desktop. Why would you build in any other language right now, if you can write once and run everywhere?
Web technology is ready for this
Microsoft has made many efforts over the years to build frames for developers to use, which failed miserably. It was Silverlight, XAML, WPF, Metro, anything you can imagine, but to a large extent, every technique has fought to attract developers on a scale that meant.
However, Microsoft recently entered progressive web apps as its next platform. PWA is one of the more exciting developments on the web this year, which allows web-based applications to access many built-in features without the need for a cover like Electron. They work offline, can send messages, cached data, and so on, and many app developers like Twitter have built up convincing first-class PWA experiences that also work on Windows.
The Ultimate Power Movement In all this, Microsoft shows how committed it is to the Web as a platform for the app’s future. It would like developers to build PWAs for Microsoft Store, but now they put the weight of their resources behind making these apps at home on the operating system, exerting huge resources to make them an great experience, whether you Use one in Chrome or an Electron wrapper.
This is not just the most constructive result of all this, it’s the key to opening the desktop environment for next generation web tools. Writing an application to tailor all devices out there will disappear, and Microsoft wants to own it as its investment for the future.
The strategic features here are much which differs from Apple, which has largely ignored any feature of the open web that threatens its own dominance. There are no web-based messages in Safari on IOS, or the ability to perform tasks or caching in the background and so on. Marzipan, Apple’s next generation Platform Platform Development Frameworks, has iOS apps retracted to work on Mac-based hardware.
Microsoft threw all of the platform invisible out of the window saying it only wants to provide a good and consistent way for developers to build apps that work anywhere, written once. It sounds good to me, and this changes the game after years of bickering over which built-in platform was best to write for.
As it turns out, it was always all the way. I think this is the right horse to invest in the long-distance cycle, especially as the web tool continues to improve so fast despite its age.
This is just the beginning
It’s still early days, and Microsoft’s plans are not even fully baked yet, but I’m glad to move into a new tool where web-based technology is being treated as a first page citizen of operating system vendors.
There are disadvantages of this change: the web as a platform is restricted in a duopol of display engines, with only Chromium, Webkit (which is a chrome variant) and Gecko, which powers Firefox, left-handed. Smaller choices hurt us all, as Mozilla’s CEO pointed out in a post on the news that was not spoken words:
“Google is so close to almost full control of the infrastructure of our online life that it may not be profitable to continue to fight this . […] From a social, civic and individual empowerment perspective, control over basic online infrastructure to a single company is terrible. “
What’s amazing is that it feels like this is the right thing to happen, even with Microsoft’s long history in browser. It was not long ago that Microsoft was punished by antitrust law to force Internet Explorer on users, but Microsoft has repeatedly shown that it wants to replace a new magazine.
It’s true that smaller choices are bad and can even damage alternative browsers like Firefox, but it’s hard to justify Microsoft continuing on the way to building a dedicated browser that nobody really wanted to use.
This time is different because Chromium is an open source project, with several contributors already, so Microsoft loses its weight behind the standard can actually encourage better collaboration on the project instead of leaving it to Google alone.
If you can not beat them, join them, and Microsoft seems to be investing online for a long time.