We previously looked at Chromium Edge this summer, wondering whether it might be ready for enterprise use. At Microsoft Ignite, Microsoft announced that their new version of Edge would be generally available on January 15, 2020. A stable Release Candidate version dropped alongside the news, as well.
Microsoft also made several announcements around Chromium Edge, so let’s break down what users and admins can expect early next year.
More on IE mode
Internet Explorer mode, or IE mode as it’s most commonly referred to as, remains one of the more interesting aspect of the new Edge. We got some additional information about it during their State of the Browser session.
With IE mode, users can access legacy websites on Chromium Edge. (This feature will not be available for Mac users, though.) When accessing a legacy website, new Edge will open the site in IE, but the user won’t notice anything happening; they remain in the same Chromium Edge tab and will see right-click context menu options as if they were in IE. The only real way to determine if you’re in IE mode is to look for the IE logo in the address bar.
Admins will use the Enterprise Mode Site List to determine what websites use the modern browser or open through IE mode.
Newly announced features
When Chromium Edge goes GA, it will ship as part of Windows 10, no specific version mentioned, going forward, and it will roll out to customers starting January 15. The Windows and macOS versions will release at the same time, while a Linux version will come along sometime in the future (no specific timeline given).
If the user or organization uses the default browser, aka either legacy Edge or IE, Chromium Edge will replace it, and the system will hide the old Edge. If the user has Firefox or another browser as the default, Microsoft will only swap out the updated Edge desktop icons and hide legacy Edge. It’s not clear if Chromium Edge will completely replace legacy Edge or if the latter will still exist in some form on your machine—the wording used in the State of the Browser Ignite session made it sound like it will still exist.
Before moving on, we need to address the name. We’ve been using Chromium Edge or Edge on Chromium to make it clear which version we’re talking about, but Microsoft has been less forthcoming. There have been plenty of jokes calling it Edgrium or Chredge but given the various sessions I’ve watched and blogs I’ve read, Microsoft seems to just want to refer to it as Edge or “new Edge.”
Microsoft plans to solve one big complaint users have had about legacy Edge: the slow updates. Previously it only received updates alongside Windows 10, which left it consistently lagging behind other browsers. With Chromium Edge, it’s being separated from the OS updates and will now receive updates every six week.
With Microsoft Search in Bing (a mouthful of a feature name), employees can search their intranet connected to Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Graph for files using natural language. This feature will be available on both desktop and mobile devices. Admins must configure and enable Microsoft Search in Bing, but then users just need to log into Chromium Edge with their Azure Active Directory account and they’re good to go. They’ll see tailored results based upon previous searches, their position, and permissions. This feature will go beyond just your intranet, as there will be custom connectors to applications like Salesforce. Microsoft will create connectors to these third-party apps, but said organizations can create their own, too.
One last feature is that App Assure will now include Chromium Edge. Any websites that work in IE 11, Chrome, or legacy Edge should work on Chromium Edge—if they don’t, contact Microsoft and their developers will help fix the issue for free.
Features for all, but focused on the enterprise
At Ignite, Microsoft pushed the message that they now have a browser that is ready for businesses to use. During sessions, presenters would acknowledge the unpopularity of Edge and that they saw a move to Chromium as necessary for the future of their browser. At the same time, they had to make sure it was both ready for modern applications and websites, while working with legacy sites—which is where IE mode came in.
With the move to Chromium, admins could potentially have one less application to manage (just Chromium Edge instead of Edge plus Chrome) across an organization. Chromium Edge will also have integrated PDF support, eliminating the need to have a third-party PDF app. (And, nearly all Chrome extensions work on this new version of Edge, minus the few that require Google ID.)
Microsoft trimmed down the amount of group policies for managing browsers to a more petite 200, which are natively configurable through either ConfigMgr or Intune. Chromium Edge also works with Azure Active Director Conditional Access for secure authentication.
Lastly, Microsoft has already started integrating new Edge into their other services, such as Power Automate’s UI flow—only Chromium Edge and Chrome can use that for web applications.
So, what do you think? Will you consider using Chromium Edge in your organization or at home?