We’ve been spending some time looking at the developer preview of Edge 76, based on the Chromium engine. While the new Edge doesn’t have a release date yet, it will supplant the current version of the browser at some point in the likely near future. Based on what we are seeing, the Edge preview is both fast and stable – it really feels (and looks, for that matter) like the mainstream Chrome browser. Some observations:
It follows regular Chromium versioning, which means it has a single version number instead of the two version numbers that Edge uses today (one for the browser version, and another for the Edge HTML version). I’m sure we won’t be the only ones to appreciate this change, since it has been a frequent source of momentary confusion when scoping out browser requirements and QA documents.
It really, really wants you to use Bing as your search engine.
This isn’t exactly a surprise, but it feels like Microsoft has gone a little out of their way to make changing the default search engine inconvenient, something the current version of Edge is also guilty of. This also carries over the ‘New Tab’ page, which isn’t currently changeable (without extensions, anyway), and serves up a Bing search page regardless of the search engine that is configured in the browser settings (new Edge does respect the user’s search engine selection, it just helpfully opens a Bing page on new tabs).
It updates automatically, and not as part of Windows updates.
Some of this may be due to it still being in development and needing to manage its own updates outside of the existing Windows patch cycle, but it seems likely that this will continue even once it is a live release. Hopefully this will be one less thing bundled into Windows updates in the future.
Speaking of the future, we’re curious to see what happens to the existing version of Edge once the Chromium version is finally released. It seems likely that both versions will co-exist together, but how they will be distinguished from one another is anyone’s guess. While this may seem like a silly thing to wonder about, it is something that both developers and quality assurance teams alike need to consider – if you have two browsers sharing that same name on a system, how do you tell them apart, and how do you explain your requirements to the end user, who probably doesn’t share our curiosity about Edge naming conventions? Even the traditional use of a version number may prove confusing, given that the existing Edge browser has two.
We’ll keep fiddling around with the Edge Preview; it actually looks like a promising browser, rather than just a way to get Chrome or Firefox installed. The development version is available here for anyone who would care to take a look.
Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or are interested in engaging our software QA services. Happy browsing!