Microsoft Contributes New Tab Management Features to Chromium Project


Microsoft spent the last year developing a new browser based on Chromium. It just released the new Chromium Edge earlier this month, but it’s already giving back to the open-source project. Eagle-eyed users have spotted a comment thread in the Chromium Gerrit that points to Microsoft’s custom tab management features becoming part of Chromium itself

Ever since the launch of Windows 10, Microsoft pushed Edge as the best browser for Windows. It claimed users would enjoy much better battery life and privacy with Microsoft’s browser, but the arguments fell flat. In late 2018, Microsoft confirmed it would abandon the custom EdgeHTML engine and switch to a Chromium base. However, the recently released version of Edge isn’t just a clone of Chrome — it has custom features built on top of the open source code, including enhanced tab management. Microsoft isn’t required to add things like that to Chromium, but it would appear it’s doing so anyway. 

The Chromium Gerrit tracks numerous software changes across the project, including one called “Send single/multiple tabs to an existing window.” There, a Chromium contributor replied to a Microsoft developer, saying, “If you’re still interested in upstreaming this from Edge, we’d be happy to take it.” The Microsoft dev replied in the affirmative and took ownership of the issue. The devs had this conversation in mid-January, and Microsoft followed through by making a code commit late last week. 

Edge’s new tab moving option, via /r/Leopeva64-2

Anyone using the Canary build of Edge will see the first hints of this change already live. Microsoft has implemented an option to move tabs from one Window to another that is already open. You just have to right-click and pick the destination. Chromium already supports selecting multiple tabs, and the issue calls for the ability to send multiple tabs in the same fashion. With Microsoft set to add this functionality to Chromium, we could see it arrive in Google’s version of Chrome somewhere down the line. 

Microsoft has made more than 1,000 small commits to the Chromium project over the last year, but this is the first major user-facing change. Google doesn’t necessarily use everything added to Chromium in Chrome, but this looks like a useful feature. Hopefully, it shows up in Chrome’s Canary and Dev channels in the next few versions. Realistically, you probably won’t see the new tab management features in the stable build until later in 2020 if Google decides to adopt it.

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