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(Credit: Jason Hiner)

Microsoft Edge is getting a major overhaul to help it work smoother and compete better, but the heavy work will occur under the hood. Microsoft has confirmed that it's replacing the proprietary EdgeHTML rendering engine adopted by its Windows 10 browser with the Chromium Blink engine used by Google Chrome.

In a new blog post, Microsoft Windows VP Joe Belfiore said that over the next year or so, Microsoft will transition Edge on the desktop to a Chromium-compatible web platform. The goal is to help Edge play better with current Web standards and with other Chromium-based browsers, such as Google Chrome. To reach more people, Microsoft plans to expand Edge beyond Windows 10 to Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and MacOS, and will update the browser more frequently.

SEE: Best Google Chrome alternatives for Microsoft Windows

Google Chrome is overwhelmingly the dominant web browser and a de facto standard. As such, many web developers optimize their sites to work best in Chrome, with Firefox and Edge more of an afterthought. That can sometimes lead to compatibility issues and rendering problems in non-Chrome browsers.

Edge itself has struggled to gain much of a following despite Microsoft's attempt to push it as the default in Windows 10. An Edge based on Chromium's Blink engine could go a long way toward drawing in more users and resolving many of the complaints about Edge. And launching Edge on other Windows versions and on the Mac will open it up to a whole new crowd.

"Ultimately, we want to make the web experience better for many different audiences," Belfiore said. "People using Microsoft Edge (and potentially other browsers) will experience improved compatibility with all web sites, while getting the best-possible battery life and hardware integration on all kinds of Windows devices.

"Web developers will have a less-fragmented web platform to test their sites against, ensuring that there are fewer problems and increased satisfaction for users of their sites; and because we'll continue to provide the Microsoft Edge service-driven understanding of legacy IE-only sites, Corporate IT will have improved compatibility for both old and new web apps in the browser that comes with Windows."

SEE: Microsoft's Edge to morph into a Chromium-based, cross-platform browser (ZDNet)

Edge will retain its name. Will it also retain its current look and layout? Belfiore said that the Microsoft Edge people use today isn't changing but that Microsoft would evolve the browser code more broadly and offer an updated Microsoft Edge experience. So Edge will likely look more or less as it does now but with certain differences based on the new engine. We'll know more in early 2019 when a preview build of the new Edge will be available for insider testing.

The news follows recent reports that Microsoft was working on a new Windows 10 web browser based on Chromium. Codenamed Anaheim, the new browser would've replaced Edge as the default in Windows 10.

Unknown was whether Microsoft would keep the Edge name or give the browser a new name and whether the user interface between Edge and Anaheim would differ. But now we know the Edge name isn't going away and that the overall interface will likely stay consistent.

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Takeaways

  1. Microsoft will replace the EdgeHTML rendering engine used by its Edge browser with Chromium's Blink, the same one used in Google Chrome.
  2. Microsoft will also expand Edge's reach beyond Windows 10 to Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and MacOS.

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Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books - "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time" and "Teach Yourself VISUALLY LinkedIn."