EdgeHTML wasn't helping Edge along, and Microsoft believes rebuilding it using Chromium will give it the push it needs to compete with Google Chrome and Firefox. Improving the web-platform experience for both end users and developers requires that the web platform and the browser be consistently available to as many devices as possible.
Microsoft is announcing big changes for the default browser in Windows 10 today. "Web developers will have a less-fragmented web platform to test their sites against, ensuring that there are fewer problems and increased satisfaction for users of their sites".
In a blog post, Microsoft Corporate VP of Windows Joe Belfiore confirmed the early rumors of this decision, and said Microsoft intends "to become a significant contributor to the Chromium project, in a way that can make not just Microsoft Edge - but other browsers as well - better on both PCs and other devices".
The second important part of this story is that Microsoft will also be bringing this new version of Edge to more platforms.
Preview builds are "expected" to be released starting in "early 2019". By embracing Chromium, they will be having a much larger impact on the web than they ever could have maintaining their own code, so it should be a win for people who never even use Edge. Microsoft explained those details about a year ago, but that's why its present Chromium shift will be geared to Edge on the Windows desktop. There's also a possibility that Edge could come to macOS someday. Instead, it will be build in accordance with the Win32 API, for compatibility with Windows 7 and 8 as well as 10.
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Beyond that, it's important to note that while Microsoft will continue to support existing UWP apps. We do expect to offer a new WebView that apps can choose to use based on the new rendering engine. Likely that's the plan, although Microsoft hasn't specifically said so, at least in recent public announcements.
'We look forward to working with Microsoft and the web standards community to advance the open web, support user choice and deliver great browsing experiences'. The team noted that its past practice of shipping Edge improvements with full Windows 10 releases had just "slowed our ability to update, causing platform fragmentation and exposing compatibility gaps", which is something it wants to avoid.
The goal is to help Edge play better with current Web standards and with other Chromium-based browsers, such as Google Chrome.
"This is certainly not encouraging as competition is good for the Web", von Tetzchner said in an email to ZDNet.
Microsoft intends for its engineers to "learn and over time become experts in the Chromium project".