Microsoft has officially opened up its shiny new Edge browser, powered by Google's open-source Chromium engine, to public testers - though only, at present, in weekly and daily build formats.
Microsoft's Edge browser, designed to replace the ageing Internet Explorer, was first rumoured back in December 2014 then released to early adopters as Project Spartan in March 2015. By June that year the software had gained its final name, Microsoft Edge, and confirmation that it would become the official browser of Windows 10. In the years since, Microsoft has worked hard to build up Edge's feature set - including the launch of an extension system, being one of the first browsers to disable 'peripheral' Flash playback by default, various claims about power optimisations for laptop users by which Microsoft's competitors are less convinced, and new security capabilities.
Sadly, none of these seemed to help the browser gain market share over its rivals - and, in December last year, Microsoft confirmed it was giving up and replacing Edge with a new browser, also called Edge, which would be based on Google's open-source Chromium engine.
While early builds of the revamped browser have been leaking for a while, Microsoft has this week made the first official releases: Edge Insiders, 'Insiders' being the name chosen by Microsoft for participants in its pre-release software beta testing programmes, can now download builds of the browser on two channels: the Dev Channel, which is updated once a week; and the Canary Channel, which is updated nightly. A longer-lived build channel, the Beta Channel, promises updates once every six weeks but is not yet available: 'It will be here soon,' the company promises, 'after we've had a chance to learn and improve in our other channels.'
At present the builds are compatible only with Windows 10; Microsoft has confirmed that builds for Windows 8.1, Windows 8, Windows 7, and Apple's macOS will be available in the near future. Those Windows 10 users interested in trying the browser out ahead of its general launch can download it now from the Edge Insider website.
February 24 2020 | 12:00