Microsoft confirmed today the rumors circulating throughout the week. The company will rewrite the Microsoft Edge browser from scratch, leaving aside the proprietary EdgeHTML rendering engine, which will be replaced by Chromium.
Yes, Chromium is at the heart of Google's Chrome browser.
The Edge release attempt was doomed to fail due to a series of strategic errors that we will see below.
Let's start with what went wrong with EdgeHTML.
Theoretically, the idea of building a new mechanism that could compete with the performance of Chromium Blink engine makes sense. But when this wonderful idea came true, guess what?
One of the best sources of data on browser usage is Digital Analytics Program (DAP) of the US Government. I have been following these numbers for several years and six months ago I noticed an amazing fact: Edge was falling even lower than Internet Explorer, the browser that Microsoft stopped developing.
Among Windows 10 users now, the share of usage for Microsoft Edge, according to DAP, is steadily declining. Browser usage decreased from 20,3% in the second quarter of 2017 to 19,4% in the first three months of 2018.
In the last three months until November 30, 2018, this number fell again, to 17,1%. Meanwhile, usage of Google Chrome in Windows 10 increased to 58,3%.
This means that although Microsoft Edge is the default browser in Windows 10, the first thing most people do is open it to download Chrome.
Let's talk about application upgrades.
Microsoft has decided to release updates for the Edge through the semi-annual Windows 10 feature updates. With each such update, the Edge acquires new features and improves its reliability and security.
But corporate customers do not "see" these improvements. Managers are very conservative (and they do it well) in trying new things when what works. So in Windows 10 of the companies that Microsoft allows to postpone updates for up to 30 months, the Edge browser was the big loser.
When Microsoft decided to develop the EdgeHTML engine, the company predicted that Windows 10 would run on one billion devices in one to two years.
The company's schedule did not come out.
Meanwhile, 15% of desktop devices run other operating systems than Windows (mainly MacOS). Microsoft Edge does not exist there.
On 40% of desktop devices running older versions of Windows (but still supported), Edge does not exist.
So Microsoft's latest plan is to continue using the Microsoft Edge brand, along with the blue "e" logo, but will rewrite the application from scratch using Chromium ready-made code.
The first announcement for a preview version will appear in a few months, but we will see the first stable release in a year.