Microsoft to cut update ties between Edge and Windows 10

Report asserts Edge will receive feature updates via the Windows Store starting this fall, another move in company's campaign to rescue browser from shrinking share

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Microsoft will sever the update ties between Windows 10 and its default browser, Edge, to give company developers a way to refresh the browser more often than twice a year, according to an online report.

"Users will finally be able to get updates to the Edge browser via the Windows Store, which will allow Microsoft to add new features more frequently," wrote Rich Woods of Neowin Monday, citing unnamed sources within Microsoft.

Since the mid-2015 launch of Windows 10, Edge feature updates have been limited to the times when the operating system itself was upgraded. There have been four iterations of Edge thus far: The original of July 2015, dubbed version 12; then November 2015's version 13; August 2016's version 14; and April 2017's version 15.

Edge, like its predecessor Internet Explorer, receives monthly security updates that patch vulnerabilities.

Woods said that the change would take place in September, when Microsoft is scheduled to ship the next Windows 10 feature upgrade.

It's unclear whether Windows Store -- the only legitimate mart that offers "Universal Windows Platform" (UWP) apps -- will be the sole source of Edge updates, or whether the browser will continue to be bundled with Windows 10 feature upgrades.

If Edge updates are available only from the Windows Store, some enterprises may balk at assigning the browser to workers; firms using Windows 10 Enterprise can lock users out of the Store, and do so to restrict what runs on the company's PCs. And firms looking for a more stable environment, and willing to consider Edge for that reason, may object to frequent Edge feature updates.

While Edge updates distributed from the Windows Store may give Microsoft the same number of refresh opportunities as rival browsers, notably Google's Chrome as well as Mozilla's Firefox, and thus play to consumers who cherish change, Chrome's and Firefox's every-six-week update cadence could well be exactly what corporations hope to avoid. Microsoft could solve that by making Windows Store updates optional, and instead hew to its pledged twice-annual Windows 10 and Edge upgrades for businesses.

Such a move would be entirely within Microsoft's pattern of promoting Edge as its primary browser -- it's effectively tossed Internet Explorer on the ash pile, promising only security updates but no new functionality -- and touting Edge as a legitimate rival to long-established competitors.

But in the nearly two years of Edge's existence, Microsoft has failed to convince customers to widely adopt the browser: At no point has Edge won over a majority of Windows 10 users. More telling, Edge's share has declined since its debut peak, falling last month to a record low of 21%, or just over one in five Windows 10 users, according to analytics vendor Net Applications.

There's no evidence in Net Applications' numbers that Edge has won over a sizable percentage of Windows 10 users, or that it may eventually prevail. And while most enterprises have yet to launch Windows 10 migrations, there's little motivation for IT administrators to reverse gears, dump Chrome, which they helped make the most popular browser on Windows 7, and inflict another change on employees by switching to Edge when they do move workers onto the newer OS.

edge sinks Computerworld/Data: Net Applications

Edge's share of the browsers used in Windows 10 reached a new low in April of just 21%. The operating system's default browser has never accounted for a majority of users.


Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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