It’s no secret that Microsoft’s new Chromium-based Edge browser will be made generally available on January 15th, 2020. But it’s less clear how and when Microsoft will deliver the new browser as part of Windows 10. In case you missed it, Microsoft has been testing a new version of Edge that it built from the ground up and it is based on the open source Chromium browser, the same code that Google uses for its popular Chrome browser. The new Edge has been in public preview since early 2019 and there are three development branches Microsoft Edge Insiders can sign up to: Canary, Dev, and Beta. Canary builds are updated almost daily, Dev builds weekly, and the Beta channel every six weeks.
For more information about enterprise features in the new Edge browser, check out Internet Explorer Mode and Other Enterprise Features Now Available for Testing in Microsoft Edge Insider Preview on Petri.
If you haven’t had a chance to look at the new browser, I’d suggest giving the beta or dev channel a go right now. Chromium-based Edge has received a very positive reception, something quite unusual for a Microsoft browser, and I know that many Insiders have already switched over to make it their main browser, including myself. It is still in beta however, so this isn’t something that should be rolled out to production just yet.
Unlike the old Edge and Internet Explorer, the new Edge will be distributed as a standalone product that isn’t tied to the Windows 10 development cycle. This gives the Edge team more flexibility and allows them to provide users with new features on a much faster cadence. Edge will also be available for Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8.1, macOS, and Linux. And it is already available for Android and iOS.
What isn’t so obvious at this time is when and how Microsoft will integrate the new Edge with Windows 10. But there are some clues. Back at Ignite, Corporate Vice President of Modern Life, Search & Devices, Yusuf Mehdi, said that the plan is to start shipping the new browser with Windows in the first half of 2020. Furthermore, Microsoft has published a list of changes made to Windows in recent updates that will help facilitate integration of the new Edge when it reaches general availability (GA). There are three sets of changes in total that were delivered with cumulative updates for Windows 10 between July and November. Microsoft says that when all the updates are applied and the stable version of Edge is installed at the system-level, the following changes will take effect:
In short, Windows 10 versions 1709, 1803, 1809, 1903, and 1909, assuming they are fully up-to-date, are already ready for the new Edge browser. NeoWin reported in November that Microsoft will start a staged rollout of Edge to Windows 10 starting January 15th, but I haven’t been able to confirm that information. I’ll add my own speculation and say that Edge will probably be delivered using Windows Update as there is no indication in the preview versions that the Microsoft Store will be used as a delivery mechanism.
But what we do know for sure is that the new Edge browser should be coming as part of Windows 10 in the first half of 2020, and it looks like that we won’t have to wait for Windows 10 20H1, the next feature update that is due in spring. And that would make sense considering that Microsoft has already updated older versions of Windows 10 to receive the new browser and have it properly integrated with the OS when it GAs in January.