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Though Google Chrome has steadily grown to be the most-used web browser in the world, its competitors have been scrambling recently to keep the gap from getting impossibly wide. And so far, we've seen two completely different tactics.

Mozilla Firefox (download for iOS or Android) has practically transformed itself with the "Quantum" overhaul, and its maker has increasingly beaten the drum for user privacy and your overall legal rights online, like net neutrality. That's one approach: Take what you have, and make it better.

SEE: Google Chrome browser update may kill ad blockers soon

Microsoft, meanwhile, has had an even tougher fight lately than Mozilla, with the Edge browser barely registering market share despite being pre-installed in Windows 10. It arguably suffered from an initial lack of support for browser extensions like password managers and ad blockers, and a belated expansion to iOS and Android.

But now, Microsoft is throwing in the towel. Not only will future versions of Edge be based on Chromium -- the open-source programming code that Google uses to build its Chrome browser -- but Edge will no longer require Windows 10, and you'll be able to download beta test versions separately from the Windows Insider program.

Digital Trends recently spotted a discussion on Reddit (download for iOS or Android) where a Microsoft representative waded in to provide some more info. On the Windows Insider subreddit, Edge project manager Kyle Alden said, "We can't commit to specific timing just yet, but we do plan to make this available as a separate download, so you can install whether or not you're configured for Windows Insider builds."

This is important because Microsoft Edge currently requires Windows 10 -- so as a pre-installed app, the only way right now for the general public to test upcoming versions of the browser is via the Windows Insider program.

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Windows Insider is a public testing platform for Windows itself, to help Microsoft ferret out bugs before an operating system update gets released to everyone (though it's had a rough go of things in recent months).

If the Chromium-based Edge is available independently of Windows Insider, then you won't need to run a test version of Windows just to access a test version of the browser.

Microsoft currently plans to have the Chromium-based Edge available for testing before the second half of 2019.

Takeaways

  • A Microsoft developer said on Reddit that the upcoming Chrome-based version of the company's Edge browser will not require users to participate in the Windows Insider program; it will be a separate download instead.
  • Windows Insider is a platform that allows a group of testers to evaluate a beta version of Windows 10 before it's released to the general public.

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Tom McNamara is a Senior Editor for CNET's Download.com. He mainly covers Windows, mobile and desktop security, games, Google, streaming services, and social media. Tom was also an editor at Maximum PC and IGN, and his work has appeared on CNET, PC Gamer, MSN.com, and Salon.com. He's also unreasonably proud that he's kept the same phone for more than two years.