NetEase Technology News May 19th news, according to foreign media reports, Microsoft released the Edge web browser as early as 2015. But in 2018 it unexpectedly turned to Google's Chromium open source engine. This article describes how Microsoft made this major decision and what might happen next.
Microsoft CEO Satya · Satya Nadella is frustrated. Microsoft Vice President Joe Belfiore said in an interview: "Satya found us, & lsquo; Hey, I hope to see more progress in the browser. ’”. At that time, Nadella said, “Google is doing a good job in the user experience of Web-based collaboration. The Office team is investing more money to improve us. We hope that our Web browser will also be better. "Qiao Beifeng admits that Edge's reputation is mixed." But Microsoft has been spending a lot of time trying to improve the compatibility of its browser. At the same time, Google has been promoting the development of Chrome browser, which has consolidated its default as a desktop. The status of a web browser.
In this case, Microsoft had to dramatically change its Edge browser. The meeting between Qiao Beifeng and Nadella eventually led to a huge decision by Microsoft to abandon its own browser kernel and switch to Chromium as the new browser engine. The risk of this decision is no higher: the future of Windows and the Web itself may depend on this project.
Shortly after meeting with Nadella, Microsoft's browser team began to analyze all of Edge's problems and chose a different terminology for its flaws, calling it "headwinds." “This is a signal that Edge is facing not only technical issues in 2017, it is not necessarily insurmountable. In theory, these defects only slow down the rate of acceptance.
One of the strongest headwinds is usage. Although the Windows 10 installation base is growing, there are not enough users using the Edge browser. People are still choosing Chrome and other browsers. Qiao Beifeng also admitted: "The use of the Edge browser is very low, in part because we only run on Windows 10 systems. ”“ Among all the devices in the world, although the Windows 10 operating system is huge, it is still a small percentage. ”
In addition to this is the compatibility of the Edge browser. Because Edge uses a different rendering engine than Chrome or Safari, it means that it sometimes has problems on certain websites. Testing websites for compatibility with multiple browsers has been difficult, and because of the low usage of Edge browsers, this means that optimizations for them are often not on the Web developer's priority list.
The Edge browser is also based on Microsoft's Universal Windows Platform (UWP), a popular application that the company has previously introduced through Windows 8 and Windows 10, which can be used on desktops, tablets, and mobile phones. Run on devices such as Xbox consoles and HoloLens. “Our third headwind is UWP. This is not to say that UWP is not good, but UWP is not a mature platform with 35 years of history, nor a platform that has already written a large number of applications,” explains Qiao Beifeng. This means that features such as support for multiple monitors in UWP are not reliable, and the Edge team will have to wait for updates from UWP. Microsoft needs to make the Edge browser a true desktop application for Windows 7, Mac and Windows 10 platforms.
Microsoft has considered many different ways to deal with all these disadvantages. It considers seemingly simple solutions, such as getting the Edge browser into the Windows Store, so it can be updated more frequently than the core operating system. It also considers enabling the Edge browser on the Windows 7 operating system. Migrating to the Chromium engine is one way to solve these problems.
“ We said, & lsquo; No, we believe that we can achieve the goal through compatibility. & rsquo;” Qiao Beifeng said.
Therefore, Microsoft has invested more engineers to try to solve the compatibility problem of the Edge browser, but this is a idiot-like stupid way: every time a problem in the Edge browser is solved, another 10 will pop up. problem. As Google introduced many new standards and speeds through Chrome, Web networks have grown at a much faster rate, and Microsoft has not kept pace.
Another big issue Microsoft has made about its Web ambitions is how the company is organized. When Microsoft started the Edge project, Windows' Web platform worked EdgeHTML was done by a separate team, and the team that built and maintained the Edge browser itself was not involved. Microsoft made a major restructuring of Windows business last year, former Windows director Terry · Terry Myerson left Microsoft, Microsoft Web platform and Edge team under the leadership of Qiao Beifeng to enhance the final build A better Windows browser responsibility mechanism.
This reorganization highlights Edge's problems, and existing Web teams have joined forces to improve the company's browser work. Microsoft began building new browser prototypes on different open source implementations to see what works. One of the prototypes is codenamed "Septagon", which fully implements the Chromium engine. The Septagon browser prototype is the obvious choice. But this shift is critical and the final decision must be made at the highest level.
Microsoft spent months evaluating the Edge browser's migration to the Chromium engine because it was a major shift in the company's usual practices. “We did a roadshow,” said Qiao Beifeng. “Let's go to see Bill & Middot; Bill Gates. We went to see Kevin ·, Chief Technology Officer from LinkedIn; Kevin Scott, who is ours, and our board of directors. Reid · Reid Hoffman. ” The team also met with current GitHub leader Knight · Nat Friedman.
The purpose of all these meetings is to get some external advice about how the Edge browser switches to the Chromium engine, the challenges involved, and what kind of relationship the company expects to build with Google. After all, for Microsoft, turning to the Chromium engine is a huge bet and more acceptance of open source code.
Some of these challenges involve how to build good relationships with the open source community, but others are fundamental changes in the way Microsoft Windows engineering teams work. The Edge browser releases updates to the public every six months, but Chromium Canary developers refactor the code once a day. Chromium is also a different code base that Microsoft engineers must understand and contribute to.
Before taking the Chromium engine in September 2018, Microsoft spent a lot of time analyzing it. Nadella and his leadership team approved the change, and Microsoft is preparing to publicly announce it in December. This is an important moment.
“We are a little nervous,” Microsoft Edge project manager Jatinder Mann admitted. “Fortunately, when we announced this news, we got a positive response from Chromium engineers and other Chromium browser vendors, and they were very happy to see that we were able to join the community. & rdquo; People's reactions are mostly positive, and other browser engineers see this as a way to get more help in improving the Web.
However, Firefox developer Mozilla does not welcome Microsoft's move. This may mean that Web developers are less likely to write Web-compliant code using any browser, and more likely to write code only for Chromium and Safari. So Mozilla says it will continue to “run for a truly open Web network”.
Once the decision is made and made public, the real work of the Edge browser to move to the Chromium engine begins. Although Google and Microsoft engineers used to work together to help design Web standards, this time it will be very different. Microsoft's adoption of the Chromium engine means that this relationship will become even closer.
Sometimes both parties need to decide whether to use Google Hangouts or Microsoft Teams for collaborative communication, or whether to use Word or Google Docs. And Microsoft engineers are often willing to move to Google.
Google engineers and Microsoft discussed how the Chromium open source community usually works, and Microsoft engineers have adopted these processes. Mann said: "Many of our principles are very consistent with these best practices. These practices include long-term involvement in the Chromium project, maintaining any contribution Microsoft makes, respecting architectural design and cross-platform and cross-device needs.
Microsoft and Chromium engineers are now working together to solve problems such as browser accessibility, scrolling, and touch controls. Touch controls have always been an important part of the Edge browser, and Microsoft is now making improvements to the Chromium engine to make it easier to touch and manipulate when selecting dates or times in a web form. Microsoft is also developing a Windows touch keyboard that supports the Chromium engine, including the ability to slide and write on the keyboard.
Obviously, it is still in the early stages of Microsoft's development of Chromium, and engineers from Microsoft and Google seem to be working together for similar goals. But Microsoft and Google are still fierce competitors. Previously, Google’s Chrome-only site didn’t work well on Edge, and a former Mozilla executive recently accused Google of damaging Firefox for years, even though Google has a close relationship with Firefox. A protocol has been reached that uses Google search as the default.
Google and Microsoft have also had open struggles over the years, which led to the emergence of ecosystem wars and affected the customers of the two companies. Windows Phone users are temporarily unable to use Google Maps, and the Windows Phone YouTube app has also caused a fierce battle, and Google has also cut off Gmail's support for Exchange ActiveSync in Windows Phone, which surprised Microsoft. Coupled with Google's refusal to develop Windows applications, all of these events have weakened Microsoft's efforts to compete with the Android operating system in the mobile space.
YouTube engineers even planned a secret plan nearly 10 years ago to eliminate Internet Explorer 6. Recently, YouTube has not worked well on non-Google Chrome browsers such as Edge, Firefox or Safari. Considering this black history, some people worry that Google may use its many Web advantages and services to undermine Microsoft's migration to the Chromium engine. This is not an unfounded fear, but it is ironic: if this situation continues, Microsoft may eventually become a victim of the strategy of “embrace, extend, eliminate”.
Recently, these concerns have become even more intense when Google Meet suddenly stops supporting the new Edge browser. Google recently added a "No browser support" warning when Edge Chromium users use Google Docs. Eric Lawrence worked for IE before joining Google to develop Chrome, and now returns to Microsoft. He revealed on Twitter that Google's recent changes may not be malicious. Google is not deliberately blocking Microsoft's new Edge browser.
“I think our expectation is that Google Chrome will compete fairly with us,” said Joe Beifeng. “We hope that we can become an engineering partner for web standards and web implementations, working well on Windows devices. This seems to be possible and in the best interests of all. And there is still a lot of room for differentiation in terms of differentiation. ”
There is no doubt that Google welcomes Microsoft's contribution to the Chromium engine. Google engineers invited Microsoft to the stage at a recent BlinkOn Chromium event, and so far, Microsoft has contributed more than 400 integrations to Chromium. A Google spokesperson said: "Chrome has been an advocate of open networks since the beginning, and we welcome Microsoft to join the Chromium developer community. ”“We thank Microsoft and the Web standards community for their work in advancing the open web, supporting user choice and providing a good browsing experience. ”
The conversion of the old and new Edge browsers will not happen overnight, and Microsoft is still studying how to achieve this goal.
Microsoft is showing some new features planned for the Edge Chromium browser, and the Mac browser should be available soon. The Edge browser will also introduce a new "IE mode", which may help some older internal website business users who still rely on IE design to move to more modern websites. The Edge browser has also designed a new “Favorites” feature to improve the bad experience of collecting information and notes from the Web. Microsoft even added sophisticated tracking controls to prevent ads from tracking users over the Web.
In addition to these features, Edge Chromium continues to improve, and the relationship between Microsoft and Google is constantly changing. But the end result is that if you use Windows, Chrome and Edge browsers will get better in the coming months. Edge already feels as good as Chrome, and it's easy to be the best default browser window ever. But Chrome may not be good enough. Now it’s Microsoft’s turn to convince everyone that it’s worth it to give up Chrome. (Chen Chen)<#comment>#comment><#comment>#comment><#comment>#comment>