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On Thursday Microsoft said that its Edge browser, which was introduced in 2015 as part of Windows 10, will be coming to the Mac as part of a broader rethinking of the company’s browser strategy.
Edge was one of the biggest new features of Windows 10 when it became available in mid-2015. But it hasn’t taken off, despite Microsoft’s attempts to promote it in its own properties, like the Bing search engine. Google’s Chrome had around 62 percent share in November, while Edge had about 2 percent, according to StatCounter. Apple’s Safari had 15 percent, and Microsoft’s old browser, Internet Explorer, had 3 percent share.
In the past few years, under the leadership of Satya Nadella, Microsoft has come to embrace open-source technologies more openly. It has added broader support for Linux in Windows and in the cloud, for example. Now, after depending heavily on its own browsing engine technology, Microsoft will make Chromium, the open-source heart of Google’s Chrome browser, a key part of Edge, essentially acknowledging that Google’s technology has become dominant.
Microsoft will also become a major contributor to the Chromium project as it looks to make Edge even more widely available.
“Microsoft Edge will now be delivered and updated for all supported versions of Windows and on a more frequent cadence,” Microsoft Windows corporate vice president Joe Belfiore wrote in a blog post on Thursday. That language implies Edge will become available for Windows 7, for one thing.
One report previously suggested that the company would release a browser to replace Edge. Instead, the company is refining Edge to benefit multiple constituencies.
“People using Microsoft Edge (and potentially other browsers) will experience improved compatibility with all web sites, while getting the best-possible battery life and hardware integration on all kinds of Windows devices,” Belfiore wrote in the blog post.
“Web developers will have a less-fragmented web platform to test their sites against, ensuring that there are fewer problems and increased satisfaction for users of their sites; and because we’ll continue to provide the Microsoft Edge service-driven understanding of legacy IE-only sites, Corporate IT will have improved compatibility for both old and new web apps in the browser that comes with Windows.”
This isn’t the first time Microsoft is building for the Mac, and it certainly isn’t the first time Microsoft is packaging up a browser for Apple’s Mac operating system. Apple offered Internet Explorer for the Mac but said it would stop coming out with new versions of the software in 2003.
Microsoft expects to have a preview build for developers to try in early 2019, Belfiore wrote.