Hands-on with the new Chromium-based Microsoft Edge

As you may already know, Microsoft Edge, the default web browser of Windows 10, is moving to a Chromium-compatible web engine in the Desktop version. A preview version of the browser found its way to the Internet, so let's take a look at it.


Microsoft explains that the intention behind this move is to create better web compatibility for customers and less fragmentation for web developers. Microsoft has already made a number of contributions to the Chromium project, helping to port the project to Windows on ARM. The company promises to contribute more to the Chromium project, and to release its preview version soon.

The PCBeta web site has shared a link to the browser installer. The installer runs silently, and opens a preview version of the app after a few seconds.

Windows 10 Edge Chromium Build 109

The browser UI looks very similar to Google Chrome, and other Chromium-based apps, but includes a number of exclusive Microsoft additions. For example, you need to sign-in with a Microsoft Account to install extensions from either the Microsoft Store or Google's Web Store. If you are already using a Microsoft Account to sign in to Windows 10, the app will use these credentials automatically.

The new Edge browser features a main menu that is almost identical to the menu of Chrome and Chromium. A few items are renamed to match the terms Microsoft used for their own implementation of the Edge browser, for example, New Incognito Window is called New InPrivate Window.

Windows 10 Edge Chromium Menu

At first glance, there seem to be no exclusive features in this release besides the Read Aloud option, that is familiar to users of the EdgeHTML-based Edge app.

The page context menu also includes the Read Aloud entry. Here, you'll find that Chromium's Reload command is renamed to Refresh.

Windows 10 Edge Chromium Page Context Menu

The extension management page is a bit reworked, sporting options such as Developer Mode and Allow extensions from other stores. You have to enable the last one to install extensions from the Google Web Store. The browser shows a confirmation for this action.

Windows 10 Edge Chromium Extension OptionsWindows 10 Edge Chromium Extension Store Confirmation

In Settings, there is a special page for site permissions. There, you can grant or revoke specific permissions for web sites you are visiting.

Windows 10 Edge Chromium Site Permissions

The browser includes a built-in dark theme, however, I didn't find any option to enable it. It can be turned on from the hidden edge://flags page.

Windows 10 Edge Flags Theme 1

The result will be as follows.

Windows 10 Edge Flags Theme 2

For some reason, the option to change the default search is buried under the Privacy category, and included in the Address bar group of settings.

Windows 10 Edge Chromium Search Engine

Finally, it allows migrating from Chrome by importing your browsing history, and passwords, bookmarks etc. The appropriate dialog appears at first launch.

If you decide to actually install the app and try it, keep in mind that this version wasn't released officially by Microsoft. It is an internal build leaked by a third-party, so you're installing it at your own risk.

It is not known yet when this new Edge browser will be officially released to the public. It could be coming soon to Windows Insiders. If you are interested in trying official builds of the new app, you can be a part of its development, by signing up to be an Edge Insider. You can sign up here.

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Author: Sergey Tkachenko

Sergey Tkachenko is a software developer who started Winaero back in 2011. On this blog, Sergey is writing about everything connected to Microsoft, Windows and popular software. Follow him on Telegram, Twitter, and YouTube.

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