Recently, Microsoft announced that it will base future versions of its Edge browser on the Chromium web engine (Blink, which also powers Google Chrome). The linked blog post states:
Making the web better through more open source collaborationblogs.microsoft.com
I will not argue against open source collaboration being a good thing, but the web will not be a better place with less browser diversity on the market. Instead, it will likely give Google Chrome an even more dominating position, because Edge will just become another boring Chrome clone. The situation gives much power to just one browser engine, which in turn will cause web development to focus more on this single implementation and less on compatibility and standards-compliance. I think standards are hugely important to keeping the web open and accessible for all, and I strongly dislike browser engine monopolies. Web publishing needs diversity in applications which consume, process and present the data, as a force that pulls it towards agreed upon and open standards.
Sometimes I encounter web applications and sites which are developed solely to work with Chrome, because “everybody uses Chrome” (or it’s just pure developer ignorance). That’s very unfortunate and takes us right back to the Internet Explorer web domination period, years ago. Now it’s called Chrome instead. Future Edge users will be using the Chrome engine under the hood, not even realising they will be giving more power to Google.
I’ve used the Mozilla Firefox browser for many years on the desktop, and in recent years also on mobile devices. It’s a personal preference based mostly on the fact that I really appreciate its features, and I dislike Chrome and its close ties to Google. I’ve also realized the importance in supporting diversity through my choices, and supporting independent market players as forces against monopoly.
If you’re a Chrome or Edge user, I encourage you to try Mozilla Firefox, or any other Firefox-based browser. It has a healthy focus on user privacy, and it is not developed by Google or Microsoft. It works great on mobile platforms as well. By using it, you are contributing to keeping the web open and accessible.
Final note, I am not in any way sponsored by the Mozilla Foundation, the opinions expressed here are solely my own.