After the rumors, confirmation came from Microsoft that it plans to move its Edge browser from the EdgeHTML engine to Chromium. Reaction from users has been largely positive, but it’s not the same story across the technology industry as a whole.
While Google is understandably happy about the change, the CEO of Mozilla, Chris Beard, says it is bad for competition and will help to make Google even more powerful.
In a blog post written in response to the news about moving away from EdgeHTML, Beard says that, “by adopting Chromium, Microsoft hands over control of even more of online life to Google”. He denies that he is being melodramatic with this claim because, he explains, Chromium is one of the ways in which Google controls what we are able to see online.
He voices concern that Microsoft’s change could make things difficult for Firefox, but concedes that there is logic behind the move:
From a business point of view Microsoft’s decision may well make sense. Google is so close to almost complete control of the infrastructure of our online lives that it may not be profitable to continue to fight this. The interests of Microsoft’s shareholders may well be served by giving up on the freedom and choice that the internet once offered us. Google is a fierce competitor with highly talented employees and a monopolistic hold on unique assets. Google’s dominance across search, advertising, smartphones, and data capture creates a vastly tilted playing field that works against the rest of us.
From a social, civic and individual empowerment perspective ceding control of fundamental online infrastructure to a single company is terrible. This is why Mozilla exists. We compete with Google not because it’s a good business opportunity. We compete with Google because the health of the internet and online life depend on competition and choice. They depend on consumers being able to decide we want something better and to take action.
Beard urges people to give Firefox another try, saying that it has improved dramatically over the past year and a half. He says that a switch to Mozilla’s browser means “more choice, more security options, more competition”.
But while Mozilla may be expressing concerns, Opera — whose browser is also based on Chromium — is rather more welcoming. In a statement given to VentureBeat, the company says:
We noticed that Microsoft seems very much to be following in Opera’s footsteps. Switching to Chromium is part of a strategy Opera successfully adopted in 2012. This strategy has proved fruitful for Opera, allowing us to focus on bringing unique features to our products. As for the impact on the Chromium ecosystem, we are yet to see how it will turn out, but we hope this will be a positive move for the future of the web.