For the past year or so, Microsoft has been working on a new version of its Edge web browser. At first glance it looks a lot like the browser that’s been shipping with Windows 10 since 2015. But under the hood the new version of Edge is based on Google’s Chromium (the open source version of Chrome).

After a year of beta testing, Microsoft says the new browser is out of beta.

You can manually download and install the new Edge web browser starting today. Or you can wait for it to be pushed to your PC automatically — most users should receive it via an update in the coming weeks, while Enterprise and Education customers may have to wait a little longer for an automatic update.

Since the new browser is based on Chromium, any website or web app that works with Chrome should also work with Edge. Microsoft also recently added support for Chrome extensions — including the ability to install extensions from outside the Microsoft’s Edge Addons Store. That means, for example, you can visit the Chrome App Store, search for an app, and install it to Edge.

That’s a good thing, since there are a lot of extensions that aren’t yet available in Microsoft’s store.

But the new Edge browser isn’t just a clone of Google Chrome. The user interface was retooled by Microsoft so everything from menus to tab shapes, the back, forward, and refresh buttons, and the start page are distinctly Microsoft-made.

Other exclusive features include a “Read Aloud” text-to-speech tool that can let you listen to websites rather than reading them and an “Immersive Reader” option (formerly known as Reading View” that lets you view a stripped-down version of a web page free from ads, social media, and anything else typically shoved in a sidebar or above or below the content.

One down side of Microsoft moving to Chromium is that it gives Google even more control over the way web content is handled — Chrome is already the world’s dominant browser, making Chromium the dominant web rendering engine. Apple’s Safari browser uses Webkit, which is related rendering engine. And that leaves Mozilla’s Firefox as the only major browser to use a substantially different rendering engine (Gecko). But according to StatCounter, Firefox had less than a 5-percent market share last year.

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  1. I know this is an old comment but I would be interested in Brad’s take on why Firefox is so unpopular nowadays. I have used it for years and the only site I have had problems with using it is Hulu (and I think it is the ad block I use, it seems to detect it even when I have it set to not work on that site), not Firefox itself. I hope we don’t lose Firefox completely out of this and that it isn’t relegated to the same status as Midori or Lynx.

    1. For me it showed japanese text and then the installer (which is not really an installer but a downloader) merrily proceeded in polish! But if you let the installation complete you will be able to change the default language. It doesn’t look like there are country-specific version of Edge (thankfully!)

  2. Im curious to see if going to even more of a browser monoculture, is a good thing. I know there is technically a ton of browsers still out there (even though PRACTICALLY there is not), but isn’t competition still a good thing here?

    1. It does mean major sites might find it’s now socially acceptable to arbitrarily refuse to work with Firefox, or other oddities, like LYNX.
      It also means everyone is using google’s DNS by default so unless they change it to a competing DNS (like your ISP assuming they even bother anymore) if there’s a website google doesn’t want you to see or was paid to hide, it just doesn’t exist (firefox has a similar problem but with cloudflare).
      it also further entitles google to unilaterally make up new web standards, including some that aren’t all that great.
      More actually competing browsers (assuming the only way to compete was in trying to attract more users) or regulation would help (regulations being simple stuff like “you must let users uninstall your browser by default”), but competition requires the competition to actually BE competitive and not eating google’s table scraps, and regulation requires lawmakers who can’t be tricked into thinking that you’re a national security threat for not using chrome.

  3. Im curious to see some side by side testing of Chrome and this new Edge. Performance, and resource use.

    I’d also like to see if Chrome’s dev tools (inspect, console, etc) are in tact. That’s the key feature that makes web developers target Chrome for support, because it has better troubleshooting tools.

    Also interested to see how it differs in terms of privacy. Not having a Google account tied to it is a good start

  4. Oh, how times have changed. Traded one large company’s browser for another large company’s browser.