Browser wars update: Microsoft gives up
December 7, 2018 11:06 AM   Subscribe

In 2015, Microsoft announced Internet Explorer would no longer be actively developed, in favor of their new web browser, Edge featuring a new proprietary rendering engine, EdgeHTML. In 2017, MS ported Edge to Android and iOS; instead of EdgeHTML they used Chromium (on Android) and WebKit (on iOS), both wrapped in Microsoft's UI. Chromium is an open-sourced browser platform for which the development is lead by and the project is hosted by Google.

Yesterday, Microsoft announced the termination of their proprietary browser technology in favor of Chromium.

What is the difference between a browser and an engine? The rendering engine is what interprets the HTML, CSS and Javascript documents and uses the data to build the web page. The Chromium platform is a relatively bare-bones web browser wrapped around Google's Blink engine, open-sourced so that it can be adapted and extended as needed; it is the foundation on which Chrome, Opera, and soon Edge all run.

Diversity among rendering engines (with, for a long time, Internet Explorer being the most dominant and most divergent from standards) is a significant complication for developing websites, since to ensure a page looks the same across different browsers, the idiosyncrasies of each major browser's rendering engine has to be accommodated. Sharing the same Blink engine brings a significant degree of uniformity to their browsers; in other words, where web developers once had to treat Chrome, Opera and Edge as three separate browsers*, they can now be treated as a single homogeneous type of browser. This now means that of the five most popular web browsers in North America and Europe, three share the Blink engine, Safari on WebKit and Firefox on Gecko/Quantum.

However, a web browser monoculture is not necessarily good. Diversity reduces the risk of a single company controlling technological standard (and, with it, lazy developers and cheap web companies coding to a single browser and letting minority users go hang), and improves the likelihood of alternate browsers being safe alternatives when one is revealed to have security issues or other problems.

Microsoft's abandonment of their proprietary engines (Trident on IE, EdgeHTML on Edge) in favor of Chromium is significant historically as well as technologically, since Microsoft's products continue to have the reputation (founded by IE in the late '90s) for being the most divergent from mainstream web technology, and in recent years IE and especially Edge have become increasingly unpopular, ceding most of their users to Google's Chrome browser.

Incidentally, this also means there will be a Microsoft browser on MacOS again after a sixteen year absence.

*(...multiplied by the number of operating systems they would be found on, and further complicated by the range of browser versions commonly running at the time; it is not uncommon for major web-based projects to require formal validation of their site or app on hundreds of combinations of browsers, operating systems and devices.)
posted by ardgedee (86 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
 
And time marches on.
posted by Melismata at 11:10 AM on December 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


Embrace, Extend, Extinguish
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:12 AM on December 7, 2018 [9 favorites]


Completely brutal headline.
posted by zerolives at 11:15 AM on December 7, 2018 [5 favorites]


“Internet Explorer is not currently your default browser. Would you like to make it your default browser? Hello? Is anyone there? Anybody....?”

*deathly silence*
posted by Fizz at 11:15 AM on December 7, 2018 [24 favorites]


Edge sucked less than IE. Oddly sad to see it go.
posted by aspersioncast at 11:15 AM on December 7, 2018 [14 favorites]


This is a bit worrying, as it makes WebKit variants the majority of mainstream browsers. Had they chosen Firefox Quantum as the basis of their new browser, it would have been healthier for diversity.

I hope this doesn’t lead to WebKit variants becoming what IE was: the Pareto solution that lazy/thrifty web developers can restrict their support to. Though at least WebKit is cross-platform.
posted by acb at 11:17 AM on December 7, 2018 [21 favorites]


Hmf. I almost never used Edge, but as a web accessibility person I'm a bit sad about this, as it had pretty good support for most access features. I'm glad to see that one of MS's priorities in their contributions to Chromium will be improving screen reader support.
posted by Alensin at 11:22 AM on December 7, 2018 [10 favorites]


I can only wonder how many poorly-coded banking and government sites are still refusing to serve pages unless the browser is Internet Explorer. Hard to believe that was so common only a little over a decade ago.
posted by crapmatic at 11:24 AM on December 7, 2018 [16 favorites]


I’m worried, as this ASUS Windows 10 laptop freezes up anytime I use Chrome or Firefox, and Edge is the only one that works. Apparently this was a common issue stemming from an update in August, but I’ve updated since then and still have the problem, AND I can’t roll back. Am I just gonna be screwed now?
posted by gucci mane at 11:25 AM on December 7, 2018


Wow, so my grocery stores website will now be completely non functional for 100% of its users. Cool.
posted by selfnoise at 11:26 AM on December 7, 2018 [9 favorites]


I don't know if it's constructive to think of Blink as a WebKit variant any more when discussing web/app implementation on browsers. The Blink fork happened six years and many standards revisions ago; its derivation is still historically meaningful but Blink is at least as different from WebKit as WebKit is from KHTML.

> I can only wonder how many poorly-coded banking and government sites are still refusing to serve pages unless the browser is Internet Explorer.

Most (western) government and publicly-accessible finance sites seem to have caught up; are still plenty of flaws (such as eight-character passwords) but the browser bases have been liberalized. The remarkable holdouts I hear about these days seem to be corporate intranets that still use ActiveX and, in many cases, mandate IE 7.
posted by ardgedee at 11:28 AM on December 7, 2018 [4 favorites]


Something something really takes the edge off.

I wonder if there will still be the “Windows Defender Application Guard” mode, which purportedly runs each tab in some sort of virtual machine for security purposes. I only managed to set it up on one friend's computer due to it being an "Enterprise" feature requiring a complicated series of steps to install (also consequently unavailable on Windows Home) but it seemed to run pretty smoothly.

If I still used Windows, I'd probably have switched to Edge for that feature. As it is, I have my sights set on Qubes OS for my next laptop, which appears designed to do that sort of containment with every single application you run.
posted by XMLicious at 11:34 AM on December 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


The remarkable holdouts I hear about these days seem to be corporate intranets that still use ActiveX and, in many cases, mandate IE 7.

They are gonna provide legacy Trident support for these until the decay of the last proton.
posted by killdevil at 11:35 AM on December 7, 2018 [6 favorites]


I loathe Chromium after I downloaded some ftp software to transfer a video file and suddenly I had a new default browser. Chromium is the Songs of Innocence of Filezilla.
posted by Beardman at 11:38 AM on December 7, 2018 [3 favorites]


I'm imagining a whole bunch of SharePoint developers just sat at their desk right now with a 1000 yard stare: "we are going to have to rewrite everything".
posted by Lanark at 11:39 AM on December 7, 2018 [16 favorites]


Don't forget all the lawyers and government workers still using WordPerfect.
posted by Melismata at 11:42 AM on December 7, 2018 [7 favorites]


Is this problematic for people concerned about Google knowing everything in our lives? IE will their have access to browser histories and other data generated through use of Edge?
posted by msalt at 11:57 AM on December 7, 2018


Is this problematic for people concerned about Google knowing everything in our lives? IE will their have access to browser histories and other data generated through use of Edge?

No. Chromium is fairly clean of all that stuff. MS may decide to embed their own tracking and sniffing, but since that's not really their business model they probably won't do much that they aren't already doing with the phone-home telemetry that Windows 10 already uses.

I hope this doesn’t lead to WebKit variants becoming what IE was: the Pareto solution that lazy/thrifty web developers can restrict their support to.

This is my concern as well. Though at least Safari has a demographically-significant enough install base via iPhone to prevent Google having a complete monopoly on browser standards.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:01 PM on December 7, 2018 [4 favorites]


Mac IE 5 (final major version) had it's own standards-centric engine called "Tasman" which was state-of-the-art in 2000. It was crafted by the great Tantek Çelik, who is with the Mozilla people these days.
Really Mac IE died in 2000 when it lost the main dev team, it just got a few patches by a small remote team afterwards.

Tasman was later ported to Windows where it was useful because it out-performed the Trident-based IE control in various ways, and it got used to display online help pages in some Microsoft products. It may have been used in some set-top box work too. Tasman was never put in a dedicated Windows browser.

This new version of Tasman was ported back to Mac for the MacOS X native Mac MSN browser/mail app but the Mac version of the MSN service had basically no users, so nobody remembers that browser. This was around 2003.

Source: I worked on Mac IE, Mac MSN and also Chrome.
posted by w0mbat at 12:05 PM on December 7, 2018 [31 favorites]


So, Microsoft is finally cutting Edge.

/rimshot. Thanks folks, I'll be around all week!
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 12:13 PM on December 7, 2018 [91 favorites]


Well, that's one less for The Div That Looks Different In Every Browser
posted by ckape at 12:16 PM on December 7, 2018 [4 favorites]


I won't pour one out. Microsoft can't write a decent rendering engine to save their lives. Honestly, though, I'm saving my real reaction for the day Microsoft Outlook finally kills using the Microsoft Word HTML Rendering Engine for HTML emails. It is the literal bane of my professional existence.
posted by SansPoint at 12:17 PM on December 7, 2018 [16 favorites]


However, a web browser monoculture is not necessarily good. ... Microsoft's products continue to have the reputation ... for being the most divergent from mainstream web technology

I think it has to be said though that losing a sub-standard, divergent implementation that has historically almost always been one of the worst choices isn't necessarily a bad thing either.

As an enduser that was trapped for nearly a decade on IE at work, I have to say that I will not miss an MS browser. In the least. Indeed, accommodating it made the web-facing applications I was responsible for worse.
posted by bonehead at 12:35 PM on December 7, 2018 [2 favorites]


The remarkable holdouts I hear about these days seem to be corporate intranets that still use ActiveX and, in many cases, mandate IE 7.

I was supporting hospital EMR systems using proprietary ActiveX components that pinned their browsers at IE7 as recently as 2015, and EMR software is both (a) a multi-billion dollar industry and (b) notoriously slow to evolve. I suspect long-tail support for fossilized Internet Explorer is going to continue for another twenty years.
posted by Mayor West at 12:52 PM on December 7, 2018 [6 favorites]


I still need IE to submit my timesheets every other Friday or I don't get paid. We use the total piece of garbage called Kronos to do that and it only runs on IE8 so we have to use Citrix to remote into IE8 twice a month for the privilege of being paid for our work. Annoyingly, I'm salaried so I just fill in 80 hour for each two week period every single time.
posted by octothorpe at 1:01 PM on December 7, 2018 [10 favorites]


Edge is not IE. This seems to be a point of confusion, so I feel honour-bound to bring it up. It was a completely new project sharing no legacy code with MSIE, and it was actually quite standards-compliant.

The decision to axe Edge and basically repackage Chromium is a cost-saving measure motivated solely by the fact that Edge, for all its technical merit, never attained significant market share. It simply wasn't economical for Microsoft to put effort into maintaining their own rendering engine when, no matter how good it got, a majority of their customers would only ever use it to download Chrome.

(I think Microsoft also made a huge mistake by continuing to bundle IE with new Windows installations, but that decision was motivated by the fact that there are so many legacy intranet apps -- still -- that were built to work only with IE's shitty non-standard rendering engine and therefore couldn't actually function on Edge, which, again, actually was just as standards-compliant as any of the other major browsers. In effect, MS' shitty stewardship of IE in the past killed off Edge in the present, ironically due to the very fact that Edge didn't carry over all of IE's shitty legacy code and standards-breaking design decisions.)
posted by tobascodagama at 1:01 PM on December 7, 2018 [30 favorites]


What I really want to know is how Netscape is doing.
posted by clawsoon at 1:08 PM on December 7, 2018 [6 favorites]


I share the reservations many people have about giving Google this much control over the future of the web. It seems like the best option here is to back Firefox as much as possible since Mozilla has always been more committed to the web and has been especially noteworthy for pushing for changes to preserve privacy and user control. Encouraging other people to use Firefox more is the best thing anyone who isn't a web developer can do to reverse the centralization trend.
posted by adamsc at 1:08 PM on December 7, 2018 [15 favorites]


In other "Tech-mega-giant-takes-an-app-behind-the-barn-and-shoots-it" news...
(To be fair, everyone saw this one coming.)
posted by Thorzdad at 1:09 PM on December 7, 2018


www.netscape.com redirects to www.aol.com. :(
posted by Melismata at 1:10 PM on December 7, 2018


I'll be over here with Firefox. Open Source holds the line, forever.
posted by Quackles at 1:11 PM on December 7, 2018 [10 favorites]


2021: Google (GOOG) has added the "CSS Neural Layout" feature to Chrome. This feature uses machine learning to optimize the locations of DIVs and lets web developers be even more lazy. It is expected to be widely adopted. It relies on a neural network trained by 3,141,592 Google TPU chips at Google HQ. The weights are not part of the standard, but Google claims Microsoft and Mozilla will develop their own in due time.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 1:18 PM on December 7, 2018 [7 favorites]


What IS the deal with that Filezilla I think) installation of unwanted Chromium? Whom does that benefit? I always assume it's malware and uninstall immediately, but what's the story behind that anyway?
posted by twoplussix at 1:21 PM on December 7, 2018


argedee, as a person who isn't particularly tech-savvy, I don't know that I could have cogently articulated the distinction between a browser and an engine until I saw this. Thanks for an informative and interesting post.
posted by cheapskatebay at 1:33 PM on December 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


At work my new laptop has Edge as the default browser and yet anytime you click on an intranet link, and on many many internet links, they open in a fresh IE window.

I mean, WTF.
posted by chavenet at 1:36 PM on December 7, 2018 [3 favorites]


I wonder when Microsoft is going to stop requiring people to use IE for Dynamics CRM implementations. We have it at my work and it's infuriating to have to use the worst of all possible browsers for our incredibly expensive CRM system. (I was not involved in the decision to go with Dynamics, but I still have to use and maintain it.)
posted by Strange Interlude at 1:42 PM on December 7, 2018 [2 favorites]


Among the many delightful aspects of being paid (or not paid) by Phoenix is the fact that you can only access it via Internet Explorer. Because of that, my previous department's IT staff set a group policy that your default browser be Internet Explorer. You could change it to Chrome in the settings, but every day it would reset back to Internet Explorer.

Assuming no problems with their pay, most employees would only need to use Phoenix a handful of times a year -- to request vacations or to record sick days -- but every single day we had to have IE as our default browser, you know, just in case.

The agency I work for now does not have that same policy for which I am terminally grateful.

Everything about IE should die in a fire.
posted by jacquilynne at 1:43 PM on December 7, 2018 [4 favorites]


This reminds me of when Borders decided to scrap its own internet backend, including the ecommerce engine, and, I think, product and user info, and use Amazon's instead. After having spent millions of dollars developing it.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 1:43 PM on December 7, 2018 [4 favorites]


Microsoft can't write a decent rendering engine to save their lives.

I think Tasman in Mac IE was very good in 2000. Tantek didn't just start being talented when he moved to Mozilla years later. Edge was probably good too, but lacked a business case.

Really, any big tech company can write anything, if the wind is blowing in the right direction. No company has a monopoly on good people who in any case hop from place to place.
posted by w0mbat at 1:55 PM on December 7, 2018 [8 favorites]


...but as a web accessibility person I'm a bit sad about this...

Don't be - apparently that is one of the areas where they are going to contribute back to Chromium/Blink:

"Accessibility - To serve the needs of all our customers, we intend to build upon the accessibility of the Chromium codebase by adding Microsoft UI Automation (UIA) interfaces to support Narrator and other assistive technologies on Windows, integrating with Windows Ease of Access settings such as high contrast and caption styling, improving controls accessibility, and supporting caret browsing."

More info in their "intent" file at Github.
posted by jkaczor at 1:56 PM on December 7, 2018 [2 favorites]


Chromium and FireFox have add-ons to change the user-agent so you can spoof using IE as your browser.
posted by ShooBoo at 1:57 PM on December 7, 2018 [3 favorites]


I'm imagining a whole bunch of SharePoint developers just sat at their desk right now with a 1000 yard stare: "we are going to have to rewrite everything".

Heh... "sort of"... Active developers have already been working with newer browser capabilities - and "SharePoint Online" is essentially completely browser-agnostic. But even Edge didn't support some of the older SharePoint capabilities, which were dependent on ActiveX (I'm looking at you "Explorer View").... which are good things to die anyways....

Where those people will be very afraid is old corporate intranets which haven't been updated since SharePoint 2010, the last of the truly IE-dependent chain..
posted by jkaczor at 2:00 PM on December 7, 2018 [2 favorites]


> Chromium and FireFox have add-ons to change the user-agent so you can spoof using IE as your browser.
But that one weird trick won't magically make Cr/FF's render/javascript engine emulate IE's oddities.
posted by farlukar at 2:05 PM on December 7, 2018 [4 favorites]


But that one weird trick won't magically make Cr/FF's render/javascript engine emulate IE's oddities.

Or... load ActiveX controls... And since Google stopped supporting "IEFrame" you cannot even run Chrome, pretending to be IE via user-agent spoofing, yet occasionally rendering an internal intranet page/site using an embedded "IE frame"...

Ah, those were the (horrible) days...
posted by jkaczor at 2:09 PM on December 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


I won't pour one out. Microsoft can't write a decent rendering engine to save their lives.

Thanks for reminding me of this song
posted by otherchaz at 2:10 PM on December 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


Echoing what others have said, as of November 2018 Edge has between 4% and 5% of overall browser marketshare on desktop OS's and while this is not insignificant it's still less of an impact on the browser market than Internet Explorer with it's approximate 11% share.

The numbers, rounded by me:
Chrome 64%
IE 11%
Firefox 10%
Edge 4%
Safari 4%
Opera 2%

Below Opera is a lot of browsers I've never really heard of generally.
posted by glonous keming at 2:10 PM on December 7, 2018 [3 favorites]


While I think that this is "bad" on the whole, because lack of diversity in the browser ecosystem... security monoculture, yada yada yada...

... On the other hand, what I really want to know is.... "how long do we have to wait until we can get it"?
posted by jkaczor at 2:12 PM on December 7, 2018


What IS the deal with that Filezilla I think) installation of unwanted Chromium? Whom does that benefit?

FileZilla have been repeatedly caught out bundling malware or one kind or another to the point where many of us can no longer recommend them as a trustable FTP client. If you only got Chrome bundled then you got off lightly.
posted by Lanark at 2:12 PM on December 7, 2018 [7 favorites]


If you don't want to abandon edge - just don't patch!
posted by Nanukthedog at 2:23 PM on December 7, 2018


if you don't want to abandon edge - just don't patch!

Might not be easy, with Windows 10, Microsoft is always slipping in auto-updates (or flipping it back on, even if you disabled it), even for corporate/managed environments - it is a constant battle controlling that...
posted by jkaczor at 2:38 PM on December 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


Should existing FileZilla users remove it? What's a better FTP client?
posted by msalt at 3:03 PM on December 7, 2018


One of the three commonly-used online permitting systems used by Massachusetts building departments does not work with Chrome. It simply refuses to, throwing a pasdive-aggressively worded error message instead. It also makes me check off a series of draconian "site acceptance" terms every time I log in, saying that I have Javascript enabled, am not blocking popups, and am not using an adblocker. (Helloooooo security vulnerabilities!) I mean, Permitlink is garbage.

It never occurred to me that I could use Edge for this. I keep a copy of Firefox solely for dealing with this trash website. Edge was right there all along but I just wasn't interested. I wonder if Permitlink knows the difference between Trident Edge and Chromium Edge. I can only assume it does not.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 3:05 PM on December 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


Controversial opinion: I liked Edge. It was fast, standard compliant, and had good accessibility. Don't tar it with ie's brush (and don't get me started on Outlook html rendering, the fact it hasn't been fixed for years, esp since with Edge they had a great, lightweight renderer, is outrageous).
posted by smoke at 3:06 PM on December 7, 2018 [7 favorites]


Should existing FileZilla users remove it? What's a better FTP client?

Removing FileZilla won't remove any bundled "extra's" and if you have a clean copy theres nothing wrong with the FileZilla client itself.
Two popular alternatives are Cyberduck and WinScp
posted by Lanark at 3:23 PM on December 7, 2018 [2 favorites]


The amount of time I spend doing website design code optimisation for different browser renderings is a joke.
posted by birmingham at 4:40 PM on December 7, 2018


Don't tar it with ie's brush

I'll tar it with IE's brush to the same extent that shitty web developers did: they made sites built just for it. I know of a bunch of Intranet sites that somehow got upgraded to work on Edge, but nothing else.

I sadly don't know what morons made that decision so I can't gleefully forward them this news, but I would if I did.

Doubtless the same shitty developers (or the developers' moron bosses) will still make sites that are only compatible with whatever trash product Microsoft produces, because they can't imagine anyone ever using anything other than whatever Microsoft installs by default, but at least there will be a chance that other browsers will work since the underlying engine will be open source.

That's the real gain here: the dominant rendering engine is going to be open source. The loss of "diversity" in engines pales in comparison to the gain here; having one of the dominant renderers be closed-source was a true pain in the ass, because it was a total black box that you could only guess at the behavior of under various conditions. Killing proprietary rendering engines is a good thing, full stop.

That said, I don't really trust Microsoft not to somehow screw all this up. I feel like it's in their corporate DNA not to leave well enough alone. They always need to squirt some awful 'secret sauce' into everything they touch, just to make it a liiiiiitle different than everyone else, and in so doing incompatible. (See also: Samsung.) Maybe the decline in popularity of Windows has beaten some humility into them as a company; time will tell.
posted by Kadin2048 at 4:46 PM on December 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


Maybe the decline in popularity of Windows has beaten some humility into them as a company

Probably not. Also, probably not.
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:55 PM on December 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


MS is currently growing its Azure business just by #1. Not being a retailer in direct competition with the company with the RFP for cloud (AWS) #2. Providing a solid set of technical marketing #3. Emphasizing on how their product plays well with existing environments and supports open source tools.

If that last part doesn't make your head spin slightly, maybe you've gotten over the 17 year old judgement... and holding on to that at this point is like meeting tour college roommate on your first day and saying, "Oh, I heard you were the champ at shitting your pants when you were one."

I can't say enough how much not being Amazon is currently benefiting MS.
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:31 PM on December 7, 2018 [10 favorites]


I'm sticking with Opera as my main browser; I switched in order to keep a pre-Quantum copy of Firefox for the times when I really want to use DownThemAll. AFAIK, there is no equivalent available on any current version of any Chromium-based (nor Quantum-based) browser.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 5:50 PM on December 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


Well, what the hell am I supposed to use to download FireFox now? Opera?

Hamburger. I've been using Ubuntu for over a year, ever since Native Instruments wouldn't honor my email and/or reg keys after buying a variety of copies over the years and being among their earliest users back to Traktor 1. Thanks Ubuntu Studio! Thanks MIXXX!
posted by loquacious at 6:32 PM on December 7, 2018 [2 favorites]


We're a pretty Chrome-centric shop where I work, though we're heavily into Microsoft products. Our training system still tells us to use IE, but it in no way enforces it; it works fine with Chrome.

I've been using Firefox at home the last few months. It generally works pretty well.
posted by lhauser at 7:07 PM on December 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


Well... I suppose a Chromium monoculture isn't as bad the IE monoculture was c. 2001; at least Chromium is open source, so deciphering its non-standard behaviour is easier.

Still can't say I'm glad to see fewer competitors though. :(
posted by -1 at 11:33 PM on December 7, 2018


In what way was IE ever divergent from mainstream web technology? What is mainstream web technology?
posted by Brocktoon at 12:19 AM on December 8, 2018


@Brocktoon: The W3C is a committee focused on putting together standards on what browsers should do. IE introduced Active X at one point in time. These were custom video, audio, data processing programming tools that were sometimes impossible to implement in other web browsers. Mainstream web technology is following the specs that the W3C puts together. The javascript language specifications is set by a standards committee. The CSS attributes and specs is set by a standard committee. The HTML elements allowed on a browser is set by a standards committee.
posted by DetriusXii at 4:56 AM on December 8, 2018 [2 favorites]


Melismata: Don't forget all the lawyers and government workers still using WordPerfect.

If Word or LibreOffice had a debugging feature half as good as”Reveal Codes” then perhaps some people could finally move away from that. I can’t explain attorneys, though. I think my brother’s firm has been a Word shop for years.
posted by wintermind at 6:08 AM on December 8, 2018 [7 favorites]


Web standards are now decided by WHATWG, and the W3C clones their work every so often in an attempt to remain relevant. In other words, the browser makers themselves have been controlling the process via consensus for some time. Chromium, although open source, is meaningfully controlled by Google. As such, the current “standards” process will favor them more now that they also have Edge’s share of the vote, effectively.
posted by thoroughburro at 6:54 AM on December 8, 2018 [5 favorites]


First thought on hearing this as a rumor a few days back was why Chromium. Google is a direct competitor for search, for productivity, for email... so why help them, even incidentally, when Firefox is sitting right there, in need of cash flow?

Second thought: the second they use a cross-platform engine, they can make a cross-platform browser again.

Still annoyed that Microsoft didn’t see clear to do as I would have thought with #1, and even though #2 turned out to be true I have to wonder what anyone gains by installing ChromEdge on a Mac or etc. I mean sure, go ahead and do it, MS, but I don’t see a huge number of non-Windows users adopting the browser.
posted by caution live frogs at 7:16 AM on December 8, 2018


I don't even know where to start.

Good bye and good riddance, Edge. It was bringing back bad memories of browser wars. When I was just a "power user", I could route around IE. As tech support, I now have to support it. Ugh. Edge, for a while, forced all .pdf to open in edge by default. It also forced links from other programs to open in Edge, but if you were admin on the machine would not allow you to use Edge, for security reasons.

The depths of stupidity in that, I'll let you dive in to at your leisure.

crapmatic:
I can only wonder how many poorly-coded banking and government sites are still refusing to serve pages unless the browser is Internet Explorer.

I was going to say, "Have you ever heard of Kronos?", but octothorpe beat me to it:

I still need IE to submit my timesheets every other Friday or I don't get paid. We use the total piece of garbage called Kronos to do that and it only runs on IE8 so we have to use Citrix to remote into IE8

So, here is the fun with all of that. Once upon a time, Kronos required Java to run. As of almost two years ago, Java is no longer necessary. *IF* your company pays for *a* (not even *the*) newer version of Kronos.

The version of Kronos we have says to turn off compatibility mode since we are using a version of IE that is not 8 or higher, even though we are using 11. And if the end user ever selects "upgrade Java"it is dumb luck if we can ever get Kronos working natively again. (Just two days ago, I got an end user back in to Kronos by installing a specific version of Java under my Windows profile which I had already installed under their profile. It's great to rely on being paid by software that is so borked.)

Mayor West:

I was supporting hospital EMR systems using proprietary ActiveX components that pinned their browsers at IE7 as recently as 2015, and EMR software is both (a) a multi-billion dollar industry and (b) notoriously slow to evolve. I suspect long-tail support for fossilized Internet Explorer is going to continue for another twenty years.

I have the honor of pulling one of the last XP machines off of our campus in the next 30 days. There is still at least one Win95 machine deployed. If you remember Y2K worries and COBOL, I think 20 years is a conservative estimate.

**********************

I wish MS would have gone to the Firefox engine instead of Chromium just to get back to the W3C set of consensus about where and what web browsers should do, standards, compliance, etc.

But, I won't miss Edge for one blink of the eye.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 7:50 AM on December 8, 2018 [2 favorites]


Mozilla (and Opera) led the transition from the W3C to the WHATWG model, actually. Microsoft was a holdout.
posted by thoroughburro at 8:01 AM on December 8, 2018 [1 favorite]


IE is used by other software to display content and will be around for a long time. I use IE and Edge for WaPo and other paywalled sites. I subscribe to a few newspapers, but can't afford all of them. (I'd happily pay for a consortium of news sites.) Opened Edge this morning for a WaPo link from MeFi and, dang, sloooooow. MSoft's push to make you use Bing and MSN and other profit centers is obvious and clunky.
posted by theora55 at 8:46 AM on December 8, 2018


Google has been my preferred search engine since a long time, primarily because they labeled ad content. But now I seem to be getting unlabeled commercial content in searches. I haen't documented or tested, so far it's perception/ anecdata. Anybody else notice this?
posted by theora55 at 9:13 AM on December 8, 2018 [1 favorite]


Google needs to provide some kind of label on ads to keep the FTC off their back, theora55. They do, however, constantly test and iterate on how subtle a label they can get away with. What I currently see is a small "ad" label in a rounded-corners box next to the URL in the same font color and size. It's already easily missed by users who ignore the URL field in results. If they're testing a version of the label without the border, that would be nearly invisible.
posted by skymt at 9:47 AM on December 8, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm finding that DuckDuckGo is arguably already a better search engine if only because of the fact it's not massaging search results to fit ad returns and user profile data, including location. Google has been difficult to use for niche subjects for years now. Their algorithm is now all kinds of messed up and annoying.
posted by loquacious at 10:10 AM on December 8, 2018 [9 favorites]


A big part of the bet with Rust is that with better tools Mozilla can outrun Apple, Google, and now Microsoft all trying to cram C++ into the same projects.
posted by ethansr at 10:55 AM on December 8, 2018


> But, I won't miss Edge for one blink of the eye.

Edge isn't going away, and you'll still be opening PDFs with it. The change is under the hood.
posted by ardgedee at 5:15 PM on December 8, 2018 [3 favorites]


Microsoft needs a browser that works on ARM64 and will be maintained moving forward. I'm guessing this was easier than forking Edge/Trident and maintaining multiple versions.

Now, they just need to:
1. Allow chrome plugins in Edge
2. Drop IE11 from default Win10 installs (put it in the app store and make users work to find it)
3. Replace the rendering engine in Office (Outlook esp) with Chromium.

And peace will reign...
posted by blue_beetle at 7:45 PM on December 8, 2018


You know, maybe Trident Edge was perfectly fine from a technical standpoint—people here who seem like they should know seem to think it was, and who am I to argue? But the thing is, I am already comfortable in Firefox and Chrome, which are free and also work perfectly fine, and I have bad associations with the default Windows browser because of Internet Explorer. And the Edge icon even looked a lot like IE's icon—a blue lowercase "e." Honestly a more original icon might have made all the difference. Then again, probably not—why learn a new browser when I already have two perfectly good options?
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:52 PM on December 8, 2018


that works on ARM64

Back to ARM again, eh?... Had an original "Surface RT"...

Well - I will say one thing for that unit - it was amazing for watching Netflix. Heh, I would bring it on trips, just so I could be watching Netflix, while working on my "real" laptop/tablet. They kept "updating" it - even after end-of-life (less than a year later) - so, I got about 5.5 years of use.

My biggest complaint was lack of "real" software... It was a very limited, locked-down device, compared to an "x86/64-bit" Surface - because of the ARM CPU and overall OS architecture, you could only load apps from the Store. Sure, it had a version of Edge, and a version of Office - but, almost nothing else.

(Closest to having some kind of locally installed development tools available on it where an older, limited PowerShell, and surprisingly some VBScript/WMI capabilities and the pre-cursor to "PowerApps")
posted by jkaczor at 5:25 AM on December 9, 2018


jkaczor: I think they’ve come to the same conclusion. Over the last couple of years people with Microsoft email addresses have been contributing a lot of ARM support code to Clang, V8 & Chromium, etc. so I suspect their roadmap is to get Electron and thus things like VSCode over soon.
posted by adamsc at 6:18 AM on December 9, 2018 [2 favorites]


Greg_Ace: Embrace, Extend, Extinguish

I think you could add an extra for IE: Embrace, Extend, Embarrass, Extinguish.
posted by clawsoon at 6:21 AM on December 9, 2018 [1 favorite]


Embrace, Extend, Extinguish

...aah fuck, it flared up again. Extinguish!

(WHOOOFF)

Extinguish! Extinguish! Extinguish! Extinguish!

(ROOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRR)

Run away! Run away!
posted by flabdablet at 8:38 AM on December 9, 2018 [2 favorites]


Replace the rendering engine in Office (Outlook esp) with Chromium.

People keep mentioning this. I wonder why? ;)
posted by sjswitzer at 9:04 AM on December 9, 2018


Run away! Run away!

Just put it over there next to the other fire.
posted by loquacious at 1:10 AM on December 10, 2018 [3 favorites]


> if you don't want to abandon edge - just don't patch!

Might not be easy, with Windows 10, Microsoft is always slipping in auto-updates (or flipping it back on, even if you disabled it), even for corporate/managed environments - it is a constant battle controlling that...

Evidently they aren't slipping in enough updates as, according to this Ars Technica article, a major problem was that the version of Edge was coupled to which build of Windows 10 you have:
If every Edge user were using the very latest version of Edge, it wouldn't be so bad, but that's not the case, and that's because of how Microsoft has bundled Edge with Windows 10. Most home users will end up running the latest feature update to Windows 10 within a few months of its release. But enterprise users are more diverse. An enterprise that has rolled out Windows 10 version 1709 to 10,000 seats may follow that by deploying version 1803 to another 10,000. The systems with 1709 will stick with 1709—after all, it's still supported—as the enterprise focuses its resources on getting legacy systems onto "some version of Windows 10," rather than getting every Windows 10 user onto the same version of Windows 10.

The result is that all those compatibility, stability, and feature improvements made in versions 1803 and 1809 will be completely off-limits to the machines running 1709. This means that Edge, already a relatively small target for Web developers to think about, suffers major version fragmentation. Contrast this with Chrome, where within a few days of a new version coming out, almost the entire user base is migrated.

This coupling with Windows 10 similarly means that there's no facility to offer Edge to Windows 7 or even macOS users.

It's this issue that's perhaps the lethal, killer blow for Edge. If every Edge installation were always the latest and greatest one, and if corporations could standardize on Edge across their entire fleet—including Windows 7 systems, including Macs—then the browser might just have been a big enough, consistent enough target that it would be sustainable. But Redmond has decided that it isn't. Microsoft did consider decoupling the browser from Windows 10 so that it could be updated on its own cadence and so that it could be ported to Windows 7 (if not macOS), but for reasons that are unclear, it decided that the work to do this would be too substantial.
Though tbh that seems a bit hard to believe for me... if they really intentionally planned to just never be able to make a cross-platform version of Edge, even though they were starting over from scratch to create a browser, to the point that the effort to even get the Edge version independent of the Windows version was going to require a prohibitive effort, that was epically stupid.
posted by XMLicious at 5:46 AM on December 10, 2018 [1 favorite]


There's a way to stop all the auto-updates of Windows 10: You have to specify that all of your network connections are metered. For ethernet connections, this requires some registry hacking.

When you do this, Windows will ask nicely whether you want to update, and it will listen when you say "No".
posted by clawsoon at 12:22 PM on December 10, 2018


Doesn't help little ms. flabdablet, whose is the only Windows user in our house, as her school IT support crew have locked down all the student laptops and she doesn't have local admin rights on hers.

This also means that when I give her temporary Internet access via USB tethering or wifi hotspot on my phone, her laptop is as likely as not to blow up my otherwise exceedingly cheap pay-as-you-go phone plan with unpredictable gobs of extremely pricey excess data; both USB "ethernet" and wifi are set as unmetered, only school IT has the power to change that, and they're not gunna.
posted by flabdablet at 10:56 AM on December 12, 2018


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