On Thursday Microsoft gave up the ghost on their internet browsers. “The Ghost” in this case is the haunting memory of just how big Internet Explorer was in the early 2000’s and how they let it all slip away. (See browser market share graph near the bottom of this page.)
They announced that their Edge browser “engine” will be changed to Google Chromium over the next year. In the most straight forward terms, this means that Microsoft Edge will be a “skin” on Chrome.
Internet Explorer had 75%+ of the internet browser market not so long ago but a lack of development effort combined with the addition of non-standard features made IE heavy. Too heavy in fact for Microsoft’s new smaller appliances like HoloLens and some Internet-of-Things projects so they announced an all new standards based thin and light browser named Edge.
Edge was terribly limited when it was first released with Windows 10 and many people confused it with Internet Explorer because both of them used a blue coloured lower case “e” icon as you can see on the right. However, after a few years of development Edge proved to be quite a capable internet browser.
Microsoft announced the end of IE when Windows 10 was released stating:
Beginning January 12, 2016, only the most current version of Internet Explorer available for a supported operating system will receive technical support and security updates.SOURCE
…Microsoft Edge is a safer, faster, more productive way to browse the web. Microsoft Edge can be configured to fall back to Internet Explorer 11 for sites that need backward compatibility.SOURCE
So Microsoft had announced the end of IE many years ago and if you look at the graph above, you will see why they gave up on Edge. Edge is shown as the tiny dark blue slice in top right.
After 4 years of constant promotion Edge just could not get beyond 5% market share and after 25 years IE had gone from complete market domination to just 5%.
Microsoft’s decision to give up on their browsers is shocking to many but it is highly consistent with their new CEO Satya Nadella’s pragmatic approach to business. He is not afraid to crush his own product from yesterday to make a better customer experience tomorrow.