back to article Microsoft polishes up Chromium as EdgeHTML peers into the abyss

Microsoft could be preparing to ditch the EdgeHTML layout engine of its unloved Edge browser in Windows 10 in favour of Chromium, according to reports surfacing on the eve of the company's developer event Connect();. The reports point to a mystery project, codenamed Anaheim, which will replace Edge as the default web browser …

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> many developers would be relieved to see a reduction in target platforms

But, the intelligent ones will decry the loss of diversity and promotion of a monoculture leading to worse malware issues.

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Is it a promotion of a monoculture if Microsoft are getting a seat at the Chromium table, not just Google? Just a thought. I haven't done much web development, thankfully, but getting cross-browser support was a pain and seemed really hacky. I can't imagine there's many webdevs saying "oh, no! Fewer browsers to support!"

For the record, I've never used Edge so I cannot comment on its merits.

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"Is it a promotion of a monoculture if Microsoft are getting a seat at the Chromium table, not just Google?"

Yes. The more companies that sit at that table, the more of a monoculture we have. The diversity that's important isn't in the number of companies using the same engine, it's in having several different engines.

"I can't imagine there's many webdevs saying "oh, no! Fewer browsers to support!""

I'm sure you're right, but let's talk frankly here -- as an end user, I don't give two shits about how hard the life of web developers is, just as so many of them don't give two shits about me.

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Anonymous Coward

For the little web site stuff I did I just wrote to standard and made sure it worked with the more common browsers - except IE simply because trying to get it to work for IE meant maybe doubling the code and quadrupling my work load. So IE users were given a page that was functional (if their browser was up to scratch - many lingered on the default on XP for so long!) and a polite suggestion to upgrade to something better.

Browsers should enhance the standards, but a page written to standard should work in any browser that claims to be compliant.

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Anonymous Coward

The diversity that's important isn't in the number of companies using the same engine, it's in having several different engines.

Especially with the auto-updating of stuff these days even without users wanting it.

Diversity means competition. That means there's stronger incentive to improve the engine. It means malware has a harder time taking hold (though the google malware is everywhere anyway :( ).

It also means we users get a variety of choices and we can try something different from time to time.

If you want one model or brand of everything, go back to the 1950's-80's Russia (as portrayed in American movies).

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"For the record, I've never used Edge so I cannot comment on its merits."

Those here that have used it seem to be focusing in it's demerits.

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Anonymous Coward

As a web dev, I find this statement to be widely inaccurate. In regards to developers "not caring about you". Sure, you have the big top 10 websites implementing a lot of features nobody asked for a lot, but when it comes to the average developer designing a page for a site or a client it actually sucks a lot when you have to rewrite something to make work on all browsers because one doesn't play as nice as others. When developing a site, I have to make sure the most heavily used browsers work 100% and then write workarounds for those that don't work so nice or try again from scratch. It's all because users do matter and will either not stay, complain or hate a design if they can't get what they want easily and fast. UX, UI, the user(you) matters a lot, and you're the ones we try to satisfy the most to ensure that we have repeat business from a client and just a matter of integrity in making a working product. I have had arguments with site owners or co-devs because they want to change something like a menu or main interface to look "cooler", provide more information or simply be different. You can't do that because of UX. If a user expects to click a logo on the left of the page in most sites and you have it below the menu to the right, a user will likely not see it at all, because they are trained to look in hot spots. See FB, YT, Twitter, etc. They all fundamentally have UI hot spots that, if changed, will alienate people.

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Edge is my primary browser. It's fast, reliable and has a nice, clean minimal interface. It has an Adblocker I can install if I wish (I try to avoid that because I want sites to earn money) and the ability to turn off auto-play for videos (I use that because fuck auto-playing and audible ads).

It's got an excellent level of standards compliance and its existence is an important part of the marketplace. I fervently hope this is a false rumour and it is not going to become a thin skin on top of Chrome.

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"Browsers should enhance the standards"

I disagree. Browsers should adhere to standards and not enhance without changing the standard first. Enhancing standards has always been caustic to the web and is how we end up with nonsense like sites that only work with specific browsers.

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Well, I was being a touch hyperbolic, but I do think that the essence of what I said is true.

Yes, writing around differences in browser really does suck. But that developers continue to do this simply perpetuates the underlying problem by removing the incentives for browser manufacturers to fix their software. Web developers should just write to the standard and if it doesn't work with some browsers, divert users to complain to those browser manufacturers.

I do understand that, in the case of websites that need to make money, the economics dictate that you should pander to the broken browsers. But doing so just ensures that things won't get better in the web generally.

"UX, UI, the user(you) matters a lot, and you're the ones we try to satisfy the most to ensure that we have repeat business from a client and just a matter of integrity in making a working product. "

Yes, I hear that a lot (particularly from the UX crowd), but I don't see it in practice that much. I'm not really talking about simple layout here, but functionality. Web designers seem to prioritize two things: making the site look shiny (according to whatever the current fashion is) or make use of the latest trendy technology, and (backed up by a tremendous number of articles and commentary on web design sites) being effective at manipulating users to do whatever it is the site operator wants them to do. Neither of those are treating the user with respect.

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"users do matter and will either not stay, complain or hate a design if they can't get what they want easily and fast."

The thing that most effectively causes me to not stay is a page that displays nothing at all or a list of URLs it wants Javascript from. If it doesn't work reasonably with NoScript in action then as far as I'm concerned it's a dead loss.

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I disagree. Browsers should adhere to standards and not enhance without changing the standard first. Enhancing standards has always been caustic to the web and is how we end up with nonsense like sites that only work with specific browsers.

So basically you hate Chrome with its myriad of non standard HTML and CSS extentions, and like Edge which has been far stricter about sticking to actual agreed standards. Right? Right?

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I disagree. Browsers should adhere to standards and not enhance without changing the standard first. Enhancing standards has always been caustic to the web and is how we end up with nonsense like sites that only work with specific browsers.

That's not how the web has ever worked. HTTP/2 is a standardised version of SPDY. Google put it out, people with a compatible browser (Chrome) got SPDY, people with a non-compatible browser got HTTP/1.1. HTTP/3 is being built significantly on QUIC.

Nothing wrong with that, provided that the developer is ensuring cross-compatibility before they bolt on experimental features.

The risk comes in a browser/engine monoculture where the incumbent (Google) is in a position to say "Chrome now uses n by default. Too bad if your server doesn't support it". This is what we had when IE6 ruled the web, Netscape was dead and MS could bolt on proprietary features.

In my examples, Google is the origin of both SPDY and QUIC, but they didn't have the power to simply say "this is what you're using now" (like MS did) because other significant browsers and browser engines existed (Gecko, Trident, EdgeHTML). They had to sell the protocols to the community and convince them to adopt and support them, eventually being written up as standards.

Enhancing standards is fine. So long as it's done in a graceful, open and backwards-compatible fashion. If it's a bad idea, it won't matter and eventually will die. If it's a good idea, someone will eventually write a standard for it.

Hell - HTTP wasn't a standard. TBL knocked together this new protocol, people preferred it to Gopher, and eventually it became a standard because everyone was using it.

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Anonymous Coward

Browsers should adhere to standards and not enhance without changing the standard first.

Not quite what I meant. They should adhere to any existing standards, but can improve how some things are handled. A page written for Firefox should render the same in any other browser. Rendering without 300MB of ram per byte of page code would be a nice enhancement though.

If one browser does not try something new, there is no reason for the others to catch up. There's less incentive for improvement and a great deal less of a web site. I'm pretty sure that JS did not come about because all the standards were written before the first browsers began to adopt it, nor were HTML and CSS fully written out before browsers began to use them.

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Flame

Take your browser and fuck off

If you try to forecfully get me to use something I don't want to you can go fuck yourself sideways with a pointy stick and I really don't care how good/fast/shiny it is. You've pissed me off therefore I will not use your goods no matter what.

I didn't even mind Edge that much functionally but the constant popups of "why not try edge" when I clearly DO NOT WANT TO USE EDGE get on my tits.

This goes for all manufacturers. So fuck Chrome as well.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Take your browser and fuck off

I bet you're still mad about Windows 95 starting up automatically after upgrading from 3.1?

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Coat

Re: Take your browser and fuck off

Are you suuuuuuure you don't want to make Microsoft Edge your default browser? You sound like you're on the fence a bit here

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Re: Take your browser and fuck off

I have a similar attitude. Given the Microsoft virus that forced people onto Win10, I was in no mood to accept the new ways MS was trying to use to turn me into a commodity. So local accounts only, no apps from the Windows store, all “we really want you to try this” crapware removed, automatic updates bypassed (WiFi only connnection) and all data gathering and advert presenting bloatware uninstalled or rendered inoperable, That included anything infected with Bing (a propaganda engine, not a search engine) such as Edge, Windows Search and Cortana. Of course, this means my Win 10 PC will not work the way MS want it to, and I’ve missed out on lots of security features (I’ve avoided all updates since installation) which makes my PC insecure. But I’m happy with that: I am aware it’s an insecure and possibly dirty device, so don’t use it for anything I don’t mind hackers seeing. I do anything sensitive on my iPad or Android phone.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Take your browser and fuck off

Ohh fiesty..

So you advocate the Google tax and blatant privacy intrusion of Alphabet ?

[Yeah.. yeah.. worms.. can open.. Windows telemetry.. but telemetary is different to selling my identity online]

running away to hide as people "go nuclear"..

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Re: Take your browser and fuck off

I use both Edge and Chrome. Of the two Edge performs much better on my underpowered tablet. The only downside for me is if I use any Google web site it nags me to use Chrome.

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Re: Take your browser and fuck off

"So you advocate the Google tax and blatant privacy intrusion of Alphabet ?"

Nope, but in terms of those issues, I don't see a huge difference between Google and Microsoft. They're both horrible and abusive companies.

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Thumb Up

Re: Take your browser and fuck off

0laf, I regret I have only one upvote to give.

Hey Microsoft, here’s a tip for you: if something’s genuinely good, people will tend to discover it on their own or by word-of-mouth. If you have to cajole people into using your browser, you’ve already lost.

I remember reading here quite recently that MS had tried the tactic, in a Windows test build, of intercepting user attempts to run Firefox_Setup.exe and showing an interstitial “Are you suuuuuure you won’t try Edge?” wheedling dialog. Pathetic, and would have ticked me off even more than does the nag when you try to change default browser.

Basically, Edge is the browser equivalent of Talkie Toaster.

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Re: Take your browser and fuck off

" ... but telemetry is different to selling my identity online ... "

No it's not. Your identity online is telemetry, and it is that telemetry that is being sold.

And just makes you think that MS ISN'T effing selling it like everyone else is?

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Re: Take your browser and fuck off

Well, if you use Chrome, I guess you are already a commodity, just for a different corporation. Just saying...

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N2
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Re: Take your browser and fuck off

"I didn't even mind Edge that much functionally but the constant popups of "why not try edge" when I clearly DO NOT WANT TO USE EDGE get on my tits.

This goes for all manufacturers. So fuck Chrome as well."

Hello,

it looks like you are writing a letter? would you like me to:

1. Fuck it all up for you

2. Format your hard disk

3. Or just piss you off and lose all your work

Make three choices from the above list.

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Re: Take your browser and fuck off

"I do anything sensitive on my iPad or Android phone."

I think restricting your viewing of pornography to those devices makes sense.

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Silver badge

Re: Take your browser and fuck off

"This goes for all manufacturers."

And while we're at it, can we include non-manufacturers? No I will never sign up to Prime so stop pushing the crap at me. No I will not let PayPal remember my password to add a "Not even later" option. And on and on....

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Silver badge

Seeing a pattern here.

Rather like the phone, and other attempts, release, push it far too aggressively with promises that it can't deliver.

If there's not enough take-up, drop it like a dead frog.

Why would anyone invest in a new Windows product under those circumstances.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Seeing a pattern here.

drop it like a dead frog.

Nobody told Steve Ballmer that that was not in fact hipster slang for 'do a dance'.

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LDS
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Nadella the loser

It looks under Nadella MS is refusing to invest in any sector it doesn't have a big lead to start from (excluding Azure) - a loser approach.

That in turn, as you point out, will just worry many people about investing in any Microsoft technology - it's better to adopt any technology MS itself will adopt in one year of two. New icons may not be enough to convince users.

That means MS will shrink more and more - and companies who survive on a single product/service are at bigger risks. They're going to lose a lot of skills, too.

In this instance, an agreement with Mozilla could have been a better strategy. Unless Nadella eyes a job at Google in his future...

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Silver badge

Re: Seeing a pattern here.

Nobody told Steve Ballmer that that was not in fact hipster slang for 'do a dance'.

I've seen him dance, it was more passing electricity through a dead toad than dead frog.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Seeing a pattern here.

>I've seen him dance, it was more passing electricity through a dead toad than dead frog.

Anal electro stimulation ?

Enjoy that graphic folks, sleep tight.

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Silver badge

I'm possibly not alone here.

My Linux & Firefox box has a user agent plug in fibbing that its win10 & Chrome68.

Just thought I'd throw that in..

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Silver badge

Re: I'm possibly not alone here.

My Linux & Firefox box has a user agent plug in fibbing that its win10 & Chrome68.

Just thought I'd throw that in..

Try using a webkit browser, then the entire internet suddenly thinks you are an apple gullible idiot rather than a pc gullible idiot.

worth it for the change of scene - switch the fake windows dialogs trying to alarm you with the traffic lighty ones - it's like changing your desktop theme.

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Re: I'm possibly not alone here.

Someone who's endpoint IP address said they're in the Ukrainian Republic has told their browser it's a

googlebot.... Which shows an odd attitude to security, since they' were about the only browser that can't talk TLSv1.2. connecting to a site I administer. They need to pretend to be something different or update their browser if they want to pretend that now.

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Re: I'm possibly not alone here.

Probably a great way of bypassing some press website paywalls, as much as they bitch about Google ´stealing’ their content they still want it fully indexable, and some sites forgo content truncation or JavaScript limitations when the googlebot comes a crawln’

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Silver badge

Re: I'm possibly not alone here.

"They need to pretend to be something different"

I block Googlebots on my websites, so for me, Googlebot would have to pretend to be something different. :)

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Open Source

"Microsoft engineers have been contributing to the open source Chromium codebase,.."

Being able to do this is part of what makes a browser successful. Once open source becomes the norm for an evolving application, nothing else need apply. Same with web servers.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Open Source

It can also make the playground less diverse...

We don't want to go back to the days where people "write for" known bugs, even if it is oss. (yes, oss can be fixed quickly, but if it's dominent there will be no rush, and people takes ages to upgrade - companies need to audit etc.)

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Re: Open Source

"" ... Microsoft engineers have been contributing to the open source Chromium codebase ,.."

So it isn't enough that Microsoft eff up their own shit. Now they want to eff up someone ( everyone ) else's stuff too?

How nice of them.

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Silver badge

Re: Open Source

So it isn't enough that Microsoft eff up their own shit. Now they want to eff up someone ( everyone ) else's stuff too?

When you're in your own home, you can leave the bathroom and kitchen in a shit state every morning and worry about it later.

When Sharing is a different matter. Other people will be able to see how badly you clean up after yourself and will rightly complain.

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Edge off a ledge.

I just recently formatted my laptop, and in a bid to keep it super clean I tried my hands at Edge.

"Why the fuck can't I type a fucking letter into the drop menu on Edge? You're going to make me find a result like a fucking Neanderthal? "

"Oh shit I just hit back space and actually went back a page, what the fuck is going off?"

"Stop zooming in when I move the fucking mouse track pad!"

I manged 4 days before installing Opera. Fuck you Edge. Fuck you to death.

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Anonymous Coward

"Oh shit I just hit back space and actually went back a page"

Didn't you ever notice such behaviour in the past twenty years? How do you believe people not using a mouse go back?

Or you're quite new to those things called "browsers"?

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Silver badge

Re: "Oh shit I just hit back space and actually went back a page"

So you make your browser pander to the tiny proportion of people who don't use a mouse, rather than the majority of people who don't want the backspace button to delete the last character typed?

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Re: "Oh shit I just hit back space and actually went back a page"

" ... the backspace button to delete the last character typed? ... "

Ummmmm .........

The button does say backSPACE on it. And NOT backPAGE.

That's what it says on my keyboard anyway. And has for all the years that I've owned one. But hey, I'm old. What do I know?

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Re: "Oh shit I just hit back space and actually went back a page"

> Don't you ever notice such behaviour in the past twenty years? How do you believe people not using a mouse go back?

> Or you're quite new to those things called "browsers"?

I've been using "browsers" for over 20 years. It's been a long time since I've used one where the backspace key went a page backwards, probably some old version of IE. It's a silly feature anyway as it's prone to accidents when focus moves out of a text field so I don't miss it in the slightest.

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Silver badge

Re: "Oh shit I just hit back space and actually went back a page"

"So you make your browser pander to the tiny proportion of people who don't use a mouse"

Good interface design includes the ability to use an application entirely with the keyboard with no loss of functionality. Most people rarely need to do this, but sooner or later, most people will encounter a situation where it's necessary.

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Anonymous Coward

"The button does say backSPACE on it. And NOT backPAGE."

How many keyboard keys get different "meaning" in different applications? If you're in a text-editing field, backspace will delete the previous character. If you're outside it, it will go back one page. I think Mosaic did it too - I never used Tim's first browser, but maybe it did it too. What should they have used? Maybe an eMacs combination like Ctrl+AltGr+LeftShitt+CursorLeft+B? Or a vi command like :b1wp

Think, pressing the spacebar will also scroll the page. Usually that large button says nothing, so maybe it's right? Yet BACKSPACE means to go back one space, not to delete the character. Because in typewriters, when it appeared first, it did exactly that. So it's time to rename it?

Anyway my keyboard has only a long left pointing arrow. Many non-English keyboard have only a symbol. Also, when first browser appeared, not every system had the keyboards with all the keys PC users are used to.

Full keyboard support is very useful when you don't have a mouse (in some server rooms, it happens...), or you have a real bad mouse support in some remote consoles.

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Anonymous Coward

So wither those "MS Only" outfits ?

Like my former employer. Everything HAD to be MS.

Then Windows Phone bought it - so they were forced to go BYOD (as no one was going to dish out iPhones on the company dollar).

But at least they had Internet Explorer (which was the only internally supported browser). Which left then insisting you had to use it even as Chrome hit 50%. Ooops.

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Silver badge
Headmaster

Re: So wither those "MS Only" outfits ?

Good point. But I am a compulsive pedant and cannot stop myself from pointing out that the word you want is “whither”.

Unless you were urging MS only outfits to decay and atrophy and shrink. Which I suppose works, too.

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