Microsoft has moved with surprising speed ever since it announced the move to the Chromium browser engine. It spent years toiling in an attempt to make EdgeHTML work, but it could never compete with the speed and near-universal compatibility of Chromium. Microsoft launched test versions of Chromium Edge earlier this year, and now we have a final date (and logo) for the new browser. It’s coming your way January 15, 2020.
Microsoft is taking a more Chrome-like approach to releasing its new browser. The version from early 2019 was akin to Chrome’s Canary build, and Microsoft later added developer and beta channels. You can download the beta right now, and you’ll continue getting updates every six weeks. However, it’s the stable version that most users will see because it’ll be part of Windows 10 in the future. You’ll be able to download the final build when it’s done, but Microsoft’s early 2020 update will probably have the browser bundled.
For years, Microsoft tried to sell Edge and its custom engine as the most power-efficient way to browse on Windows. However, Chrome has continued to dominate the market because it’s just faster. The new Chromium Edge will be faster, of course, but it’ll also bring features like a dark UI mode, web “Collections,” and tight integration with Microsoft services. If you’ve been hoping for easier access to Bing search, the new Edge has you covered. Microsoft isn’t completely dropping legacy support, though. The new Edge will include an Internet Explorer mode that lets you run old web apps that won’t work on more modern browsers.
While Edge uses the same underlying code as Google’s Chrome, Microsoft hopes to attract users who want more privacy. In the default “balanced” mode, Edge will block trackers from sites you haven’t visited, plus anything Microsoft identifies as potentially harmful. You can turn it down to “basic” to only block those malicious trackers. On the “strict” setting, Edge will block almost all trackers, but that might break some sites. Microsoft also promises to better obfuscate tracking in private browsing mode.
With its new browser, Microsoft is also creating a new icon. Until now, Chromium Edge has been using the classic “e” icon, which was carried over from Internet Explorer. To fully break with the past, Microsoft has designed an “e” logo that looks like an Internet Explorer x Tide Pods collaboration. It’s a big improvement over the classic logo, though. You’ll start seeing that icon appear in your taskbar next year.
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