Microsoft will separate Edge from OS updates

Edge updates will now come from the Windows Store, if the rumors are true.

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It’s no secret that Microsoft’s Edge browser, the revamped browser that shipped with Windows 10 as a replacement for Internet Explorer, is struggling to gain any sort of traction. As IE fades rapidly, Google Chrome has been picking up share while Edge remains stubbornly at 5%.

As I illustrated last week, Edge doesn’t really have one (and edge, that is). It’s painfully slow. I should not be able to watch a website load piece by piece in 2017 on a broadband connection.

Much of the problem stems from the fact that Edge updates are tied to operating system updates. So Edge doesn’t get an overhaul until Windows does, and that has only really happened twice, with the Anniversary and Creators Updates. Compare that to Chrome, which seems to get a new build every week.

So, Microsoft may have a fix in the works. Windows news site Neowin cites internal sources who say that beginning with Redstone 3, the next major update to Windows 10 due in September, updates to Edge will come separate from the OS. Users will be able to get updates to the Edge browser via the Windows Store, allowing Microsoft to add new features without having to wait for an OS update.

The story didn’t go into detail, like how installs will be handled or if updates will be done in-app the way Firefox and Chrome do it. With both browsers, you can manually check for an update, and if one exists, you can download it and then complete the install with a browser restart.

However it handles updates, Microsoft needed to make this decision years ago. If you look at the pace of updates to other browsers, even niche players like Vivaldi, Microsoft was a major laggard at refreshing its browser. With Google and Mozilla updating their browser every other week, Microsoft could not allow Edge to languish for months in between major OS updates.

Edge needs a major kick in the pants as it is regarding performance, never mind adding new features. Changes must come much faster and more frequently if it is to be competitive.

The Build 2017 show taking place in Seattle starting May 10 would be a good place to discuss this, as the company is undoubtedly going to show off new features that are coming in Redstone 3. If there was a time and place to announce the changes to Edge development, that would be it.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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