Browsers

Microsoft’s Edge browser is going to switch its rendering engine over to Chromium.

I am deflated and disappointed.

There’s just no sugar-coating this. I’m sure the decision makes sound business sense for Microsoft, but it’s not good for the health of the web.

Very soon, the vast majority of browsers will have an engine that’s either Blink or its cousin, WebKit. That may seem like good news for developers when it comes to testing, but trust me, it’s a sucky situation of innovation and agreement. Instead of a diverse browser ecosystem, we’re going to end up with incest and inbreeding.

There’s one shining exception though. Firefox. That browser was originally created to combat the seemingly unstoppable monopolistic power of Internet Explorer. Now that Microsoft are no longer in the rendering engine game, Firefox is once again the only thing standing in the way of a complete monopoly.

I’ve been using Firefox as my main browser for a while now, and I can heartily recommend it. You should try it (and maybe talk to your relatives about it at Christmas). At this point, which browser you use no longer feels like it’s just about personal choice—it feels part of something bigger; it’s about the shape of the web we want.

Jeffrey wrote that browser diversity starts with us:

The health of Firefox is critical now that Chromium will be the web’s de facto rendering engine.

Even if you love Chrome, adore Gmail, and live in Google Docs or Analytics, no single company, let alone a user-tracking advertising giant, should control the internet.

Andy Bell also writes about browser diversity:

I’ll say it bluntly: we must support Firefox. We can’t, as a community allow this browser engine monopoly. We must use Firefox as our main dev browsers; we must encourage our friends and families to use it, too.

Yes, it’s not perfect, nor are Mozilla, but we can help them to develop and grow by using Firefox and reporting issues that we find. If we just use and build for Chromium, which is looking likely (cough Internet Explorer monopoly cough), then Firefox will fall away and we will then have just one major engine left. I don’t ever want to see that.

Uncle Dave says:

If the idea of a Google-driven Web is of concern to you, then I’d encourage you to use Firefox. And don’t be a passive consumer; blog, tweet, and speak about its killer features. I’ll start: Firefox’s CSS Grid, Flexbox, and Variable Font tools are the best in the business.

Mozilla themselves came out all guns blazing when they said Goodbye, EdgeHTML:

Microsoft is officially giving up on an independent shared platform for the internet. By adopting Chromium, Microsoft hands over control of even more of online life to Google.

Tim describes the situation as risking a homogeneous web:

I don’t think Microsoft using Chromium is the end of the world, but it is another step down a slippery slope. It’s one more way of bolstering the influence Google currently has on the web.

We need Google to keep pushing the web forward. But it’s critical that we have other voices, with different viewpoints, to maintain some sense of balance. Monocultures don’t benefit anyone.

Andre Alves Garzia writes that while we Blink, we lose the web:

Losing engines is like losing languages. People may wish that everyone spoke the same language, they may claim it leads to easier understanding, but what people fail to consider is that this leads to losing all the culture and way of thought that that language produced. If you are a Web developer smiling and happy that Microsoft might be adopting Chrome, and this will make your work easier because it will be one less browser to test, don’t be! You’re trading convenience for diversity.

I like that analogy with language death. If you prefer biological analogies, it’s worth revisiting this fantastic post by Rachel back in August—before any of us knew about Microsoft’s decision—all about the ecological impact of browser diversity:

Let me be clear: an Internet that runs only on Chrome’s engine, Blink, and its offspring, is not the paradise we like to imagine it to be.

That post is a great history lesson, documenting how things can change, and how decisions can have far-reaching unintended consequences.

So these are the three browser engines we have: WebKit/Blink, Gecko, and EdgeHTML. We are unlikely to get any brand new bloodlines in the foreseeable future. This is it.

If we lose one of those browser engines, we lose its lineage, every permutation of that engine that would follow, and the unique takes on the Web it could allow for.

And it’s not likely to be replaced.

Have you published a response to this? :

Responses

danq.me

Microsoft have finally started telling people NOT to use Internet Explorer 6, an awful outdated browser that’s holding the web…

# Saturday, March 5th, 2011 at 1:14pm

danq.me

Microsoft have finally started telling people NOT to use Internet Explorer 6, an awful outdated browser that’s holding the web…

# Saturday, March 5th, 2011 at 1:14pm

danq.me

Microsoft have finally started telling people NOT to use Internet Explorer 6, an awful outdated browser that’s holding the web…

# Saturday, March 5th, 2011 at 1:14pm

danq.me

Dan redesigns the theme for scatmania.org, returning to sans-serif fonts and shades of blue… plus a few modern CSS features…

# Friday, April 13th, 2012 at 4:35pm

danq.me

Dan redesigns the theme for scatmania.org, returning to sans-serif fonts and shades of blue… plus a few modern CSS features…

# Friday, April 13th, 2012 at 4:35pm

Brian Hart

“I’ve been using Firefox as my main browser for a while now, and I can heartily recommend it. You should try it. At this point, which browser you use no longer feels like it’s just about personal choice—it feels part of something bigger; it’s about the shape of the web we want.” twitter.com/adactiojournal…

# Posted by Brian Hart on Sunday, December 16th, 2018 at 7:43pm

Comandeer

> Very soon, the vast majority of browsers will have an engine that’s either Blink or its cousin, WebKit. That may seem like good news for developers when it comes to testing, but trust me, it’s a sucky situation of innovation and agreement.adactio.com/journal/14608

# Posted by Comandeer on Sunday, December 16th, 2018 at 8:14pm

Mark Stosberg

Microsoft’s Edge browser is switching to using Google Chrome’s rendering engine and that’s bad for the security of the web. The potential “market share” of an exploit in this rendering engine has now expanded. adactio.com/journal/14608 #security

Amjad Masad

How do you detect a religious debate? It relies on moralizing and value judgements like “You’re trading convenience for diversity” and not real arguments. adactio.com/journal/14608

# Posted by Amjad Masad on Monday, December 17th, 2018 at 6:43am

Mojeek

With Microsoft’s Edge browser switching its rendering engine to Chromium, @adactio expresses why the lack of browser competition is worrying and how what browser we use is no longer about personal choice, “it’s about the shape of the web we want” adactio.com/journal/14608

# Posted by Mojeek on Monday, December 17th, 2018 at 12:37pm

Eric Thompson

I promise I have almost destroyed keyboards over browser inconsistencies when working on stuff, but this is a great read - we need differences to keep the ‘net healthy.adactio.com/journal/14608

Phil Nelson

“At this point, which browser you use no longer feels like it’s just about personal choice—it feels part of something bigger; it’s about the shape of the web we want.” adactio.com/journal/14608

# Posted by Phil Nelson on Monday, December 17th, 2018 at 5:54pm

Dan Schnau

I am too, long so before the EdgeHTML news came out. What can a random Firefox user do to help?

# Posted by Dan Schnau on Monday, December 17th, 2018 at 5:54pm

Jen Simmons

“I’ve been using Firefox as my main browser for a while now, and I can heartily recommend it. You should try it… At this point, which browser you use no longer feels like it’s just about personal choice—it feels part of something bigger; it’s about the shape of the web we want.”

# Posted by Jen Simmons on Monday, December 17th, 2018 at 5:58pm

Stephen Shankland

“Firefox is once again the only thing standing in the way of a complete monopoly… Which browser you use no longer feels like it’s just about personal choice — it feels part of something bigger; it’s about the shape of the web we want.” adactio.com/journal/14608

/ola npm i witch

“I’ll say it bluntly: we must support Firefox. We can’t, as a community allow this browser engine monopoly. We must use Firefox as our main dev browsers; we must encourage our friends and families to use it, too.”adactio.com/journal/14608

Andy Bell

Lots of good takes on the Edge Chromium situation along with the impending browser monopoly. Well, nearly all when you discount the rubbish that I wrote… adactio.com/journal/14608

# Posted by Andy Bell on Monday, December 17th, 2018 at 10:40pm

Oscar Swanros

“If you are a Web developer smiling and happy that Microsoft might be adopting Chrome, and this will make your work easier because it will be one less browser to test, don’t be! You’re trading convenience for diversity.”adactio.com/journal/14608

Fachry Ali

..but Firefox “break” some JQuery script. At the same time it’s also the only browser that you can rely on for doing “heavy”tasks. :-/

# Posted by Fachry Ali on Tuesday, December 18th, 2018 at 6:36am

Peter Steinberger

”If you are a Web developer smiling and happy that Microsoft might be adopting Chrome, and this will make your work easier because it will be one less browser to test, don’t be! You’re trading convenience for diversity.,” adactio.com/journal/14608

Chris Grayson

Jeremy Keith on browser diversity in a Chromium-dominated world: “which browser you use no longer feels like it’s just about personal choice—it feels part of something bigger; it’s about the shape of the web we want” adactio.com/journal/14608

Bridget Stewart

I had been considering switching (back) to Firefox as my main browser because the inspector tools for CSS are fantastic. The day Microsoft announced it was switching its rendering engine to Chromium, I stopped considering it and actually did it. https://t.co/hVl7aV0phe

Raúl R Pearson 🇹🇭

adactio.com/journal/14608 “[Firefox] was originally created to combat the seemingly unstoppable monopolistic power of Internet Explorer. Now that Microsoft are no longer in the rendering engine game, Firefox is once again the only thing standing in the way of a complete monopoly”

Virginie

edge et brave vont se fonder sur sources chromium, c’est une mauvaise nouvelle pour la diversité et l’innovation du web qui est de plus en plus “google driven”, et il ne reste plus que firefox pour sauver le monde adactio.com/journal/14608

# Posted by Virginie on Wednesday, December 19th, 2018 at 5:07pm

Hallo89

An inspiring article really putting the current state of browsers, more specifically their engines, on point and why it is a dilemma to have lost yet another one.adactio.com/journal/14608

# Posted by Hallo89 on Thursday, December 20th, 2018 at 10:23pm

Richard Turner

I never jumped on the Chrome bandwagon, I’ve always used ⁦@firefox (even on Android and iOS)⁩. It’s SO much better than it was 18 months ago, so now it’s excellent. Try it for two weeks, then think if it’s really worth going back to Google’s browser. adactio.com/journal/14608

Teuvo Väisänen

“Microsoft’s Edge browser is going to switch its rendering engine over to Chromium. There’s just no sugar-coating this. I’m sure the decision makes sound business sense for Microsoft, but it’s not good for the health of the web.”adactio.com/journal/14608 #frontend

Mickelodeon

“Losing engines is like losing languages. People may wish that everyone spoke the same language […] but what people fail to consider is that this leads to losing all the culture and way of thought that that [other] language produced” adactio.com/journal/14608#UseFirefox

# Posted by Mickelodeon on Saturday, December 22nd, 2018 at 8:46am

Hey, Dennis!

Uma pequena reflexão de porque seria interessante você testar o navegador do Firefox. Monopólio de mercado é algo sério e complexo - e ninguém quer que exista. adactio.com/journal/14608

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