Microsoft has officially confirmed that they are going to be gutting Edge and converting it into a Chromium based browser. While the engine will change, Microsoft has stated that they will continue utilizing the Microsoft Edge name and will now bring the browser to all supported Windows platforms.
Microsoft explains that they plan on switching Edge to a Chromium-based engine in order to provide better web site compatibility, a standardized platform for building and testing web sites, and better app compatibility for the enterprise.
"Ultimately, we want to make the web experience better for many different audiences," stated Joe Belfiore, the Corporate Vice President for Windows, in a blog post. "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."
As part of this development, Microsoft plans to move Edge to a Chromium-compatible web platform, which means all those Chrome extensions you use will now be available for Edge users. Even more interesting, Microsoft plans on making this new version of Edge available for all supported versions of Windows, including Windows 7, 8.1, and 10.
By using Chromium as their engine, they also hope to bring Microsoft Edge to other operating systems such as macOS and possibly Linux.
Finally they plan on being active contributors to the Chromium Project, like they have been doing with the ARM version of Chrome. By being active contributors to the Chromium open source project, they will be able to provide their own suggestions that would not only help the browser community at large, but also be advocates for changes that benefit Windows users.
This new version will be slowly developed over the next year and will be available for users to test via preview builds from their new Microsoft Edge Insider program.