The year is 2005. Microsoft's Internet Explorer web browser currently commands around a 90% share of the market. There is currently no end in site to their total dominance over the market. Flash forward 5 years, and Internet Explorer is now a distant second to Mozilla's Firefox, and Google's Chrome browser is snapping at its heels. Jump forward to now, and Chrome's usage now rival's Internet Explorer's in 2005. Apple's Safari browser gets a small look in by dint of being the default browser on Apple devices. The usage figures for Edge have it hovering at around 5% usage.
A different Edge case
In a move no doubt influenced by this current state of play, Microsoft have decided to make radical changes within the guts of their browser. Before we continue, it's worth a brief diversion to explain that the most important bit of any web browser is all but invisible to most users. This bit is known as the "rendering engine". This is what reads website code and translates it into what you see on the screen. Edge's rendering engine has, up until now, been of Microsoft's own invention. However, they are now ditching this in favour of using Google's Chromium engine, which (as you can probably guess) is the rendering engine that their own Chrome browser uses.
So, what will this mean in practice? The main change will be, unsurprisingly, that Edge will become a lot more like Chrome. However, it won't just be a complete clone. Microsoft have stripped out some of the Google cruft and applying some of their own design to the user interface. In fact, some early reports suggest that it's already shaping up to actually be better than Chrome itself.
No more Internet Exploring
Another potentially big change is that this may mean that we FINALLY see the back of Internet Explorer. Microsoft have been desperately trying to assign the once world-conquering Internet Explorer to the dustbin of history. However, some ancient company intranets still rely on it to run code that hasn't been updated to support modern web standards. Therefore, it's still hanging around within all Windows 10 installations like a bad smell. The new version of Edge can actually emulate Internet Explorer. Assuming this all works correctly, this means that people will be able to run an decrepit intranet in one tab alongside more modern websites within the same browser.
Don't push me, 'cause I'm close to the Edge
And it won't just be Windows users that can join in the fun this time. This new version is already available to install on Android and iPhone. It is also going to be made available to Mac users. Microsoft is even planning to make a version available to Linux users.
The general release of this brave new world for Microsoft is currently planned to be released in the autumn. However, for the particularly curious, it's possible to install a preview release directly from Microsoft.