Microsoft sets Jan. 15 launch for its second-chance Edge

Microsoft will release a production-quality version of its recast Edge browser Jan. 15, or in just over 10 weeks.

What the Redmond, Wash. company this week called a “release candidate” of the final version can be downloaded from the firm’s website. The build — the label usually applies to finished code that may still harbor some bugs — has been marked 79.0.309.11 and issued as the latest Beta for Windows and macOS.

Microsoft first broached the idea of remaking Edge in December 2018, when it announced it was discarding its own rendering and JavaScript engines — the technologies at the core of any browser — and instead adopting those built by the Chromium project, the open-source effort led by Google that fuels Chrome. With that declaration, Microsoft gave up on building a modern browser — one that would replace the ancient and obsolete Internet Explorer (IE) — and follow in the footsteps of such niche applications as Opera and Brave.

Not surprisingly, Microsoft cast it differently. “We intend to adopt the Chromium open source project in the development of Microsoft Edge on the desktop to create better web compatibility for our customers and less fragmentation of the web for all web developers,” wrote Joe Belfiore, a corporate vice president in the Windows group, at the time.

Since then, Microsoft has released multiple versions of the “full-Chromium” Edge using the same development channel nomenclature Google does for Chrome — Canary, Dev and Beta — for first, Windows 10 and macOS, and then somewhat later, for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.

Microsoft’s assignment of 79.0.309.11 as the release candidate — and more generally, version 79 currently as the Beta channel build — points to that edition as what the company will offer on Jan. 15, 2020. Chrome will rely on the same foundation — Chromium 79 — for its Dec. 10 release, labeled Chrome 79. The two, Edge and Chrome, will therefore not be on the same release schedule.