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  • Microsoft adopting Chromium for Edge rendering is a big deal — let me count the ways

    Posted on December 8th, 2018 at 13:50 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    If you’ve been following the “Edge is dead (but it isn’t)” story, you know that Microsoft announced a couple of days ago that they’ll stop developing the EdgeHTML rendering engine, and switch the Edge browser over to using Google’s open-source Chromium under the covers.

    There have been many knowledgeable folks tossing out ideas and opinions, but some of them seem completely unfounded. As you know, I’m more of a “I’m from Missouri show me” kind of guy.

    I come from a state that raises corn and cotton, cockleburs and Democrats, and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I’m from Missouri, and you have got to show me.

    — Willard Vandiver, 1899

    I’m not really from Missouri, but you get the idea.

    Yesterday there was an interesting “Ask me anything” session on Reddit where Edge Project Manager Kyle Alden makes some startling commitments:

    Existing UWP apps (including PWAs in the Store) will continue to use EdgeHTML/Chakra without interruption. We don’t plan to shim under those with a different engine. We do expect to offer a new WebView that apps can choose to use based on the new rendering engine.

    We expect to provide support for PWAs to be installed directly from the browser (much like with Chrome) in addition to the current Store approach. We’re not ready to go into all the details yet but PWAs behaving like native apps is still an important principle for us so we’ll be looking into the right system integrations to get that right.

    It’s our intention to support existing Chrome extensions.

    To me, that says two important things, which Windows users of every stripe need to understand:

    • UWP apps (formerly “Metro,” and many other names) aren’t going to last much longer. If you had visions of UWP-based Edge, or Office, or just about any app, you need to re-think. Put a fork in Windows anything “in S Mode.” [UPDATE: I’m overstating things here. See @warrenrumak’s comment. We just learned that Edge will become a standard Win32 desktop app, not a UWP app. Microsoft has already said that Office won’t become a UWP app any time soon. You can draw your own line from there.]
    • Even Microsoft now openly believes that Progressive Web Apps — a concept originally developed and pioneered by Google — are the way of the future.

    ‘Tis a brave new world.

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