Monday, December 3, 2018

Edge gets Chrome-plated, and we're all worse off

I used to think that WebKit would eat the world, but later on I realized it was Blink. In retrospect this should have been obvious when the mobile version of Microsoft Edge was announced to use Chromium (and not Microsoft's own rendering engine EdgeHTML), but now rumour has it that Edge on its own home turf -- Windows 10 -- will be Chromium too. Microsoft engineers have already been spotted committing to the Chromium codebase, apparently for the ARM version. No word on whether this next browser, codenamed Anaheim, will still be called Edge.

In the sense that Anaheim won't (at least in name) be Google, just Chromium, there's reason to believe that it won't have the repeated privacy erosions that have characterized Google's recent moves with Chrome itself. But given how much DNA WebKit and Blink share, that means there are effectively two current major rendering engines left: Chromium and Gecko (Firefox). The little ones like NetSurf, bless its heart, don't have enough marketshare (or currently features) to rate, Trident in Internet Explorer 11 is intentionally obsolete, and the rest are too deficient to be anywhere near usable (Dillo, etc.). So this means Chromium arrogates more browsershare to itself and Firefox will continue to be the second class citizen until it, too, has too small a marketshare to be relevant. Then Google has eaten the Web. And we are worse off for it.

Bet Mozilla's reconsidering that stupid embedding decision now.


  1. This really exposes the fallacy of free-market ideology:
    "Professor Hayek is also probably right in saying that in this country the intellectuals are more totalitarian-minded than the common people. But he does not see, or will not admit, that a return to ‘free’ competition means for the great mass of people a tyranny probably worse... The trouble with competitions is that somebody wins them. Professor Hayek denies that free capitalism necessarily leads to monopoly, but in practice that is where it has led..."
    — George Orwell (Review by Orwell: The Road to Serfdom by F.A. Hayek / The Mirror of the Past by K. Zilliacus Observer, 9 April 1944)

  2. Thank you Cameron Kaiser for this important remark. Webstandards will only thrive if there's a material need for it (i.e. competition). Let's raise our voices for Microsoft to maybe reconsider, or opensource the now-abandoned Edge engine? In the end the question remains who can (and is willing to) confront mother Google in any meaningful way. The web needs to be open, esp. for uses not yet envisioned and on low-tech devices.



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