Microsoft Edge will support Chromium extensions

Martin Brinkmann
Dec 10, 2018
Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge

Microsoft revealed plans to switch the core of the company's Microsoft Edge web browser from its own EdgeHTML base to Chromium used by Google Chrome, Opera, Vivaldi, Brave, and other browsers.

First preview versions of the "new" Microsoft Edge browser will become available in early 2019. Microsoft launched an Insider program for Edge that anyone can sign-up for to gain access to these early builds.

The move offers advantages: Edge will support all supported versions of Windows and not just Windows 10, a version for Mac OS X and other desktop operating systems is likely, and Edge updates won't be linked to Windows updates anymore.

Some things were not clear when Microsoft made the initial announcement:

  • Would Microsoft switch from EdgeHTML to Chromium for UWP applications?
  • Would Microsoft Edge support Chromium extensions?

Microsoft Edge project manager Kyle Alden responded to questions about the move on Reddit. He stated that it was Microsoft's "intention to support existing Chrome extensions". Whether that means that existing extensions for Microsoft Edge won't be supported anymore by the new Edge browser is unknown.

Microsoft controlled the extension system for Microsoft Edge tightly; only a few dozen extensions were created for Microsoft Edge since support for browser extensions was added to Microsoft Edge. Edge users had little choice and often no choice at all; extension support felt inferior to Chrome's or Firefox's.

Microsoft might implement support similarly to how Opera and Vivaldi support Chrome extensions. Users of these browsers can download and install extensions from the Chrome Web Store.

It remains to be seen whether Microsoft will maintain its own extension store next to support for Chrome extensions.  Microsoft could maintain its own extension store and support installation of extensions from the Chrome Web Store.

Closing Words

Support for Chrome extensions will boost Microsoft Edge's appeal significantly. Edge users may install thousands upon thousands of extensions to customize the browser, improve privacy or security, or change content on websites. Microsoft plans to support the installation of PWAs directly from the browser as well.

Whether all of that is enough for Edge to become relevant again remains to be seen.

Microsoft Edge will support Chromium extensions
Article Name
Microsoft Edge will support Chromium extensions
Microsoft plans to support existing Chromium extensions in the new version of Microsoft Edge that is based on Chromium code.
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  1. supergirl said on December 12, 2018 at 11:00 am

    Im still laughing…..

    Is it posible that this is an act of desparation on Microsoft part?
    Do they forsee ….. writing on the wall…
    Everything they have done since W8 has been pitiful & pathetic.

    Is their greed & shitiness finally catching up with them.

    My linux is now WAY easier to use & UPDATE than the windows nightmare.
    not to mention more secure & PRIVATE !!!

    Are they just Ceding the internet to Google..?

  2. Pierre said on December 11, 2018 at 3:41 pm

    A detail : do you know why Chrome for Android doesn’t suport extensions ?

    1. ShintoPlasm said on December 11, 2018 at 6:03 pm

      Because how else could you see all the lovely ads google sends onto your screen?

  3. Stefan André Brannfjell said on December 11, 2018 at 1:56 pm

    This is awesome. From the perspective of a web developer. More time will be spent being productive, less time arguing with IE/Edge.

    I have no problems adapting websites to work with Firefox, their inspector tools is good. I always make stuff work there with minimal time/adjustments.
    But I cringe every time I press F12 in IE/Edge. I have spent countless hours arguing with IE/Edge to make code work. Code that seemingly Chrome and Firefox understands and executes correctly without any issues at all. But when Microsoft comes in, I have to spend countless hours researching, reading documentation, figuring out the correct way to do things.

    I argue that whatever makes me waste time is the wrong thing to do, no matter what online standards say. When development time is reduced by 30% because you can exclude Microsoft browsers, then something is wrong with said browsers.

    Also, microsoft developers contributing to the open source community, making all browsers better. It can’t get better than that!

    1. Anonymous said on December 12, 2018 at 5:03 am

      Microsoft adapts to open source only when their proprietary option fails. Vulkan will rise, and you will see Microsoft doing the same with DirectX 12. They will make DirectX 13 from Vulkan and they will add their blobs on it.

    2. John Fenderson said on December 11, 2018 at 5:05 pm

      @Stefan André Brannfjell: “microsoft developers contributing to the open source community”

      Honestly, this is what worries me more than anything else. I don’t trust Microsoft to contribute to the open source community in a way that actually benefits the community. They’re all about benefiting themselves and, when possible, harming everyone else.

      On the other hand, if their contributions are limited to Chromium, then I don’t care as much as I have less than zero concern about what happens to that.

  4. Curtis K said on December 11, 2018 at 8:53 am

    Chrome is the new IE6 because non-standard model.

  5. John Fenderson said on December 10, 2018 at 9:32 pm

    “Whether all of that is enough for Edge to become relevant again remains to be seen.”

    If, as it appears, Edge will essentially be Chrome in different clothing, then it’s hard to see how that would help it to become relevant.

  6. Gerard said on December 10, 2018 at 6:50 pm

    I am very worried about the Google (and Facebook) dominance of the internet. They want to rule it. It will eventually mean the end of the internet as we (used to) know it; probably sooner than we think. Big Money and Big Data Harvesters are huge threats. Time to split up the Googles and Facebooks of this world. Smashing monopolies has been done before.

    EU, please help us, Trump’s USA won’t.

    1. DX62 said on December 10, 2018 at 7:21 pm

      And what EU should do? Please give us some guidance. Force Microsoft to have their own engine? How exactly? Microsoft could keep their engine or use Gecko. And you compain only about Google and Facebook. You should add Microsoft to your list. They have a monopoly in desktop operating systems with a marketshare of 90% and because of this monopoly most programs and games are win32 exclusives. Can EU force Microsoft to open source win32? Of course not.

      1. ilev said on December 11, 2018 at 8:06 am

        Who cares about Windows 8% world OS market share. Windows is irrelevant in the world of Linux (iOS, Android, every single router , switch, smart tv, set-top box, …) which has 92% OS market share.

  7. Ron said on December 10, 2018 at 5:40 pm

    What I wonder is why they decided to go with Chromium’s rendering engine instead of Gecko.

    1. Weilan said on December 11, 2018 at 10:53 am

      Cause Gecko sucks. Gecko doesn’t render properly many websites and web developers don’t care about making their websites work with Gecko. If Microsoft chose Gecko, that would mean shooting themselves in the foot. Also the only reason Gecko still exists is because Mozilla are too stubborn and still have some users left. If you look at browser usage statistics, Firefox continues to lose users to Chrome and rightfully so. Right now Firefox is just a cheap copy of Chrome. Before they removed XUL extension support, the browser had something unique and worthwhile going for it, now it has nothing – it has gimped limited web extensions like Chrome and inferior web support compared to Chrome.

  8. ilev said on December 10, 2018 at 5:14 pm

    Edge is already branded as a loser browser so Microsoft has to come with a new name for a browser in order to make it attractive. Chrome will be a great name.

    1. ShintoPlasm said on December 10, 2018 at 9:56 pm


  9. ashrayspin said on December 10, 2018 at 2:17 pm

    But why would someone even use it say over Chrome? Especially when Microsoft is always behind with updates of Edge.

    1. John said on December 11, 2018 at 12:50 am

      I think the chief use case is business. Microsoft sells licenses and support packages to businesses in bulk, often inclusive of the Windows operating system, the Office software suite, and other Microsoft products. A business using Edge with Blink would be able to take advantage of the special tech support they are paying for from Microsoft (If applicable), but the tech support package they purchased wouldn’t include Google branded software like Chrome.

      Additionally, I would imagine that Edge will be at least slightly more optimized for the Windows operating system and standard hardware relative to Chrome when it comes to things like battery life, although it’s likely any improvements would be ported to Chrome shortly after they come to Edge due to the open-source nature of the Chromium project.

      The other thing is potentially group user policies that Microsoft offers where an IT professional can use one computer to alter and lock down browser settings for every other computer in the office. I am not sure if Chrome has the same thing, but by the time Edge with Blink comes out of Webkit, it almost certain will.

      There’ll also likely be direct Cortana integration, a legacy mode for old intranet pages that only work with Internet Explorer, etc..

      For home use, though, I guess it would come down to these things:

      1. Some users might prefer the Edge UI to Chrome
      2. Some users don’t like Google.
      3. Some users always use the default.
      4. People will likely have to at least use it to download the browser they really want. :)

      Still, all that said, this isn’t a move by Windows to increase marketshare significantly, I don’t think. The purpose of doing this is likely to cut down on costs- they can lay off or reassign most of the people working on Edge, just keeping whomever is necessary to keep the Edge UI working with Webkit and Blink, and do occasional code commits to the core open source products. It also will probably cut down complaints from businesses about web incompatibilities and so forth.

      Basically, this lets Microsoft check the box of “Yes, we have a browser. It works with all the websites.” without having to actually maintain a full browser from the rendering engine on up completely on it’s own or deal with the fact that some website people test only in Chrome rather than coding to standards or testing with various browsers, and even though that is an issue with the website and not Microsoft, Microsoft likely gets blamed for it by businesses they sell support packages to, and now web pages tested in Chrome should just work in Edge, once they’ve fully adopted the rendering engine in the stable version of Edge.

      All that said, this is a horrible move for the future of the open Internet in general. Everyone will likely code to Blink/Webkit, which will ultimately limit user choice, because browsers with other rendering engines like Gecko will stop being able to load pages correctly (Through no fault of their own, but because websites will design only for Chrome, and may even block non-Blink/Webkit user agents). This will also mean that all browsers are vulnerable to the same security holes, etc.. It’s like going back to the bad only days of Internet Explorer 5/6, except that users get the nominal choice of a user interface, company name, and logo- but it’s going to be a monopoly underneath the hood.

      Hopefully enough people rally around Firefox that website developers will have to code to standards or test against multiple rendering engines, but some developers were already starting to ignore Firefox and it’s Gecko engine even before this decision, so I am doubtful. Eventually, Firefox will likely have to adopt Blink, and smaller browsers with their own rendering engines really have no chance left here unless they can attract user bases that are content with having a Blink “backup” to access all the sites that won’t load for non-Blink rendering engines eventually, and sort of use both browsers at once.

      It’s not the end of the world, but it’s also less than an ideal path for the browser market in general. They’ll be a lot of defacto standards because “This is how Webkit renders things, so this is how we code the HTML”, rather than open standards determined by a neutral body that are published and that all rendering engines can code to.

      But I understand why Microsoft did this. It makes sense for them from a business perspective.

  10. user17843 said on December 10, 2018 at 2:12 pm

    I’m thinking about this move, and it becomes clear to me that when MS switches to Chromium engine, then that’s a symbol for the state of the web.

    I expect Apple to do something similar at some point with their browser engine (maybe 2020/2021).

    Then I expect Firefox to follow, teeth-gnashingly.

    1. ilev said on December 11, 2018 at 7:59 am

      May Firefox will follow but Apple never will.

      1. Jake1702 said on December 11, 2018 at 11:53 am

        It’s the very opposite

  11. Drop said on December 10, 2018 at 1:27 pm

    Another Failsoft product bites the dust. Now they are removing cumulative updates from Update catalog, like they did with “latest” 1803 patch which brings Windows to 17134.441 (KB4467682).

    Total fail.

  12. MikeMic said on December 10, 2018 at 12:05 pm

    By the way Martin : I had to enable uBlockO on ghacks because of the pestering autoplay videos that also pop at the right side of page when scrolling. Sorry, I like to support website i frequently visit but that’s too much.
    (Despite your “We need your help” notice: “…no annoying ad formats…”)

    1. ShintoPlasm said on December 12, 2018 at 10:22 am

      Totally agreed. Those mostly-static ads used to be fine by me, but the autoplaying video is a nightmare.

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