Microsoft’s new Edge browser, which has been rebuilt on top of Google’s Chromium framework, launched yesterday. Its announcement last year was met with widespread surprise in the tech community. The reaction was not unwarranted, due to the tech giant’s charred past with Google, and their (former) reluctance to give up on their decades-old Internet Explorer and its direct descendant, the previous version of Edge. A project such as this, then, was unprecedented for the company, where it depended on the code base of Google (a company that has fiercely competed with Microsoft in the past), and rebuilt a web browser that they have adamantly supported in the past from the ground up.
This peculiar behaviour by Microsoft, then, might be the final signal of Microsoft’s radical transformation since Satya Nadella began his tenure as its CEO. While he has made it abundantly clear that Azure and cloud services are now their central focus as a company (which has allowed it to pass the 1 trillion dollar valuation mark), such a comparatively radical and community-driven approach as this is previously unseen from them. This is further compounded by the fact that this project required collaboration with Google, engineering an application for Apple’s macOS, and working with independent developers and organisations globally.
While this cements the fact that the company’s traditional model of focusing on proprietary software may no longer be its golden goose, it would certainly be interesting to see Microsoft extending a similar strategy to Windows, Office, and the Surface line of hardware devices. With so much on the line for Microsoft and the rest of the industry in the next few years as they collectively try to reinvent themselves, it will be intriguing to see if this technology giant applies the same principles to the rest of their product lines to adapt to the coming decade.