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Microsoft Brings Chromium-Based Edge Browser to Older Windows OSes

Microsoft this week released previews of its Chromium-based Edge browser for Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, which previously did not support any Microsoft browsers beyond the now-deprecated Internet Explorer 11.

Microsoft's announcement suggested that Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1 users would have a similar Edge browsing experience as Windows 10 users do. It also promised to deliver "forthcoming support for Internet Explorer mode for our enterprise customers" at some point. Internet Explorer Mode is a new browser compatibility scheme that was announced back in May at Microsoft's Build developer event. IE Mode was described as "blurring the lines" between Edge and legacy IE technology within the Edge browser. With IE Mode, Edge users get automatically shifted to IE in a tab when that's needed. 

The previews released this week are just for the testers who opt to follow Microsoft's so-called "Canary" release channel for Edge. The Canary Channel is notable for getting daily software updates, with potentially more software flaws, as well.

Edge also has release cycles for a Dev Channel (updated weekly), a Beta Channel (updated every six weeks) and a coming Stable Channel.

A Dev Channel preview for Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1 "will be coming soon," Microsoft's announcement promised, but didn't specify when.

Typically, testers would get the latest Edge previews from the Microsoft Edge Insider testing program. However, Canary Channel and Dev Channel users don't have to sign up for this program. They can just download the preview bits to be part of the testing program, Microsoft had explained in April. Back then, Microsoft had issued its first Canary Channel and Dev Channel releases of the Chromium-based Edge browser for Windows 10 desktops.

Microsoft's seemingly radical shift with Edge to using the open source Chromium platform fostered by Google was announced late last year by Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of Windows at Microsoft. It was done to improve matters for both end users and developers, as well as to ensure improved Web application compatibility for IT departments, Belfiore had explained.

Even though Edge is based on Chromium, Microsoft's Edge/HTML and Chakra engines still continue to get used in the browser to support Universal Windows Platform applications and Progressive Web Applications, Microsoft had explained earlier. The Edge browser uses the Chromium Project's V8 JavaScript engine, but Microsoft's ChakraCore JScript engine is still used for "projects outside the browser," Microsoft had explained. The Edge browser also supports running Google Chrome extensions (applets), in addition to Edge extensions.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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