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There's no denying Microsoft knows how to make a good web browser; just ask any former Netscape employee. But for years, the Google Chrome browser has dominated the browser market. In 2008, Microsoft had 60% of the global market share in web browsers. Google released their Chrome browser that same year but quickly displaced Microsoft as the web browser leader and now holds almost 70% of the market. Even with the built-in Microsoft Edge app set to the default browser in Windows 10, Microsoft's share has dwindled to only 5% of the global market. Users cite Google Chrome's fast webpage load times, cross-platform integration, and a thriving ecosystem of 3rd-party "extensions" to customize the browsing experience as key advantages over the Microsoft browser.
However, a radical strategic move could upend the web browser market in favor of Microsoft again and in the process help productivity for everyone at your business.
Microsoft remakes their web browser with open source technology
Any user of Windows 10 can't help but notice the big blue "e" icon on their desktop. It is Microsoft Edge, the successor to the once-dominant Internet Explorer web browser that took down Netscape in the early 2000s. Unfortunately, Microsoft Edge usage required web developers build their apps and webpages to Microsoft standards that were outside the non-profit World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) international standards. On the other hand, the Google Chrome web browser was certified for use with W3C standards to ensure compatibility and speed. That's because Chrome was built using the open source "Chromium" web browser core software to which Google contributed (in the form of both funding and software development resources) but did not own.
In 2018, Microsoft announced it would begin not only contributing to the open source Chromium software, it would also convert the Edge browser to Chromium. Just like the Google Chrome browser, this new version of Microsoft Edge would be built on Chromium and available on not just Windows 10 PCs (it works on Windows 7 even though you shouldn't be using it) but also Apple Mac, iPhone, iPad, and all Google Android-based devices. The move was a radical departure from Microsoft's typical way of producing all software "in house," but they realized moving the Edge browser to Chromium would benefit their users because:
- The Chromium core software follows W3C standards to ensure Edge users would have a fast and stable browser compatible with most web apps and sites no matter what device they are using
- A proven software core with hundreds of millions of users means Microsoft can devote more time to add novel integrations with other Microsoft solutions such as Office 365 apps (e.g. unique ways of interacting and inputting data into Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other apps via touch, speech, and digital inking) and Azure cloud services on top of the Chromium core
- Having a Chromium-based web browser built into Windows 10 means IT departments at small-to-midsized businesses (SMB) would no longer have to support multiple competing web browsers
Not everyone gets Microsoft Edge (yet)
Although new Windows 10 PCs will come standard with the Chromium-based Microsoft Edge browser, what about existing PCs? While individual consumers will get the new Microsoft Edge automatically as through Windows Update, the browser will not automatically deploy for commercial customers. IT managers at businesses must manually download the new Microsoft Edge browser. This is important to test the compatibility of business-critical web apps and websites before rolling out the new browser to everyone in the company.
Some readers will respond: "But you just wrote a few paragraphs earlier that the new Microsoft Edge will be compatible with W3C standards and is stable. Why the caveat about testing?" Amaxra consultants take our certification as a Microsoft Gold-level Partner seriously and are cautious when it comes to complex software rollouts for all organizations large and small. We are early adopters of the new Chromium-based Microsoft Edge browser and have used the prerelease version for months prior to the official launch. Even when using the prerelease Microsoft Edge, we found that if a business intranet website (e.g. a SharePoint site collection) or web app worked on Internet Explorer 8 or later, Google Chrome, or even the legacy Microsoft Edge browser, then those same sites and apps worked fine on the new Microsoft Edge.
Make moving to Microsoft Edge simple and easy
Amaxra recognizes there will always be those (pardon the pun) edge cases where a customized web app might not work with a browser. That's why we strongly suggest that IT managers in SMBs download the new Microsoft Edge on Windows 10, macOS, iOS, and Android devices prior to upgrading everyone in the company to the new browser. And as a Microsoft Partner, Amaxra can help businesses with Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, and Azure cloud services with specialized support for Microsoft Edge rollouts and compatibility testing.
Contact me at Thane.Belnap@amaxra.com or call 425 749 7471 if you have any questions or comments on this blog.