Since its introduction in 2008, the Google Chrome browser has remained one of the most popular navigation methods on the Internet. However, did you know that Chrome was created as part of the Chromium project? It was an open source project funded by Google that launched both a browser and an operating system that anyone can try for free or use to develop software. Today, many browsers use the Chromium base that the Google team once created, including Opera and the latest version of Microsoft’s Edge browser.
Chromium also forms the backbone of Google Chrome and Chromebooks. Hence, this software is incredibly useful for user interface designers, software developers, and everyday internet users. Additionally, any Chromium-based software is out of the box compatible over the internet, which may give Microsoft the opportunity to become a real competitor in the browser space after some time in the weeds.
Here’s how the Chromium Project started, what the Chromium browser and operating system can do, and how it changed the evolution of the web browser forever.
What is chrome and how is it different from chrome?
Chromium was used by Microsoft in creating its newly redesigned Edge browser, in part due to Chromium’s ability to provide instant compatibility with the internet whether users have a PC or a Mac. Because of this built-in ease of use, Microsoft has the opportunity to re-enter the browser market and potentially reinvigorate competition and innovation as leading developers strive for improvement. Microsoft’s introduction of the Chromium platform is a huge step towards widespread adoption of the Chromium browser. The potential for springboarding by third party developers, webmasters, and app designers is considerable, but only time will tell.
Edge Chromium release and reception
Edge Chromium was developed under the code name Anaheim in 2019 and released on January 15, 2020. Since Chromium is open source and Microsoft isn’t in the habit of charging for a browser download anyway, there is no cost for this project – you can get it for free. If you want to keep your internet habits private, Edge offers an alternative to Safari and Firefox, and offers better privacy protection than Chrome. With Google not planning to remove third-party trackers and cookies until 2022, it could appeal to the more security-conscious internet users and improve Edge’s profile and user base.
If you were wondering what Mozilla, the inventor of Firefox, thought of the browser restructuring, you weren’t pleased. Another browser competitor is likely to be bad news, especially not one that uses Chromium. In Mozilla’s blog post, however, Microsoft was mainly criticized for “giving up” on Edge and creating a more monopoly browser environment.
The company is concerned that this is putting far too much of the internet in the hands of Google for finding viable alternatives. It’s an interesting setting, but the full implications of the new browser are still largely unknown. Using open source Google tools doesn’t mean that Google is in control of the project. Google itself was silent about this development.
Additionally, Chromebook owners may or may not be surprised that the basis for their PC’s operating system is actually Chromium. The main differences between Chrome and Chromium come from a variety of features and software that Chrome has but Chromium doesn’t currently – security sandboxes, Adobe Flash (PPAPI), bug reporting, and Google Update. Additionally, the Chromium OS has an impressive array of code, community resources, and tools for those who want to make sure a website works identically for all browsers, smartphone app developers, and for those looking to build a custom PC.
Chrome extensions and Edge features in Chromium
When the announcement was made for the new Edge browser, many people had a similar question: “If the new browser is going to be built with Chromium, can I use Chrome extensions with it?” Those who have spent time with the Chrome browser likely have at least some extensions to customize their internet experience or to add certain tools they use on a daily basis. Kyle Alden also confirmed that the new browser was created with the intention of supporting Chrome extensions.
Edge currently ships with a select number of Microsoft-approved extensions, including LinkedIn, Twitter, Amazon Assistant, and Evernote Web Clipper. If you want to install Chrome extensions to optimize your browser, you can do so after toggling a switch in the Edge extensions Menu to allow extensions from other stores. However, many Chrome extensions are currently untested, and Microsoft has reservations that they will work successfully in Edge. Programs that require companion software may not work even if they are installed correctly. Extensions that depend on access to your Google Account to stay in sync or required to sign in can also run into problems. Microsoft has promised to improve the range of Chrome extensions available and to incorporate Firefox’s, but there is little news about this at the moment.
However, this begs the question: what happens to all the older Edge apps that depend on EdgeHTML? Well, Microsoft just announced the end of service for Internet Explorer 11 for Microsoft teams on November 30, 2020. Edge Legacy on March 9, 2021; and Microsoft 365 on August 17, 2021. At the time of writing, it is currently unclear what this means for the future of EdgeHTML, but the signs are not encouraging.
Will Microsoft roll over some of these to its new Chromium-based browser? After the first code commits discovered online, this is a reality. Microsoft is already pushing Google to add support for the Windows 10 custom system styles for video titles in Chromium. Microsoft also wants to add support for dragging and dropping Outlook emails and attachments in the upcoming Chromium-based web browser in a separate code commit – just like the feature currently works in Edge.
Other Chromium browsers on the market
Google Chrome is one of the most popular web browsers based on Chromium today, and Edge is the new kid. However, there are three other popular browsers with Chromium source code: Opera, Brave, and Vivaldi. These browsers may not have the brand awareness of Google or Microsoft, but they each offer a reliable browsing experience with a robust suite of tools and features that rival their main competitors.
- Opera is known for a no-frills browsing experience that allows users to seamlessly integrate third-party apps like Telegram and WhatsApp, provide a news section for Edge and Chrome, and easily transfer notes and web links between your PC and your device.
- Brave is primarily focused on user privacy and offers a bare bones browser that is free from distraction. The main function is counters that let you know how many trackers and ads have been blocked and how much time it has saved you.
- Vivaldi is a relatively new version that offers users both privacy and personalization. It offers an expansion gallery to rival Chrome, customizable sidebar tabs, nickname choices for your search engines, assignable mouse gestures, session tabs, and much more.
While Chromium’s future is not yet decided, Microsoft’s decision to ditch its own Edge browser in favor of a proven open source platform speaks for itself. Edge will be standard on future Windows PCs, but anyone with a supported version of macOS or Windows 10 can download the browser for free and try it out for themselves.