EdgeHTML rendering engine is discontinued

, 3 minutes to read

The Edge­HTML ren­der­ing en­gine, fork of Tri­dent, fork of Spy­glass Mo­saic, fork of Mo­saic will be replaced by the Blink ren­der­ing en­gine, fork of We­bKit, fork of KHTML, fork of Khtmlw. Ex­is­tence of stan­dards and mi­nor­ity im­ple­men­ta­tions does not pre­vent emer­gence of mono­cul­ture. Mi­crosoft knows this ef­fect very well. Con­tribut­ing to Chromium rather than de­vel­op­ing pro­pri­e­tary com­po­nent of Win­dows will al­low Mi­crosoft to de­liver its pro­posed stan­dards to ma­jor­ity of de­vel­op­ers in­stead of mi­nor­ity.

The web browser con­sists of two ma­jor parts – UI (Chrome, Fire­fox, Opera, IE) and en­gine (Blink, Gecko, Presto, Tri­dent). One part ex­ists in­de­pen­dently to the other. In case of Edge, the UI is a UWP app and the en­gine is edge­html.dll writ­ten in C++.

One could say that Mi­crosoft is aban­don­ing its own browser be­cause no­body is us­ing it. It sim­ply does not make sense be­cause the suc­cess of the UI can be mea­sured by count­ing of peo­ple us­ing it while the en­gine suc­cess can be mea­sured by count­ing of stan­dards it im­ple­ments. Now the en­gine ends and the UI re­main be­cause no­body uses the UI – it’s non­sense.

De­vel­op­ers are op­ti­miz­ing their (web) apps for Chrome be­cause they are us­ing its De­v­Tools. IE/Edge F12 De­vel­oper Tools have never estab­lished as an in­dus­try stan­dard. It wasn’t in Mi­crosoft’s in­ter­est which rather in­vested into Vi­sual Stu­dio HTML & JavaScript de­bug­ging tools.

To­day’s Mi­crosoft po­si­tion is dif­fer­ent from the po­si­tion which was 20 years ago.

Microsoft in 1998

Win­dows 98 was the first Win­dows ver­sion with con­tained HTML and DVD sup­port out of the box. It al­lowed run­n­ing of SQL Server 7.0 for re­li­able busi­ness data stor­age and Of­fice 97 for pro­duc­tive man­age­ment. Mi­crosoft sells Win­dows op­er­at­ing sys­tem to PC mak­ers to un­lock the hard­ware po­ten­tial and to busi­nesses as a de­vel­op­ment plat­form. When you sell plat­form, you are com­pet­ing with func­tions it sup­ports.

Microsoft in 2018

Mi­crosoft is selling its own hard­ware (Sur­face and Xbox prod­uct lines), rent­ing its own servers and pro­vid­ing ser­vices (Azure and Of­fice 365), selling ad­ver­tise­ments (Bing Ads) and charges pro­vi­sions from apps dis­tri­bu­tion (Store app). Win­dows sells have al­most evapo­rated and added value of the in-house ren­der­ing en­gine is gone. When you sell de­vices, you are com­pet­ing with user ex­pe­ri­ence.

Adopt­ing Blink will al­low Mi­crosoft to fo­cus on web stan­dards (this is where the in­no­va­tion hap­pens) and per­for­mant Win­dows im­ple­men­ta­tion will be de­liv­ered to ma­jor­ity of web browser users on Win­dows.

Most of web de­vel­op­ers de­cided that one open source ref­er­ence im­ple­men­ta­tion model is bet­ter than many in­de­pen­dent im­ple­men­ta­tions ris­ing from one stan­dard. So be it.