Microsoft mirrors Google move, shelves Edge upgrades

Edge Browser
Image: Microsoft

Covid-19 outbreak ensures version 80 will be around for an undetermined amount of time

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23 March 2020 | 0

Microsoft is suspending releases of its Edge browser.

Citing “current global circumstances” rather than outright naming the Covid-19 pandemic and its upturning of, well, virtually everything, Microsoft said it would not upgrade the current Edge 80 to the next version, Edge 81.

“As the situation evolves,” Microsoft said, it will inform customers of other changes, and presumably when it will resume Edge refreshes, through the Microsoft Edge Dev account on Twitter.

Google made a similar announcement 18 March, telling Chrome users it had stopped upgrading the browser a day after it was due to shift from version 80 to 81.

Covid-19 triggered the decision either, asserting that the “adjusted work schedule” was to blame. Both decisions were, of course, clearly caused by the pandemic and its disruptions, including vast numbers of company employees sent home to work there.

In a tweet, Paul Kinlan, the lead for the developer relations team at Google, ticked off several specific reasons for the suspension, including “lower productivity, worry about asking ecosystem to change, being able to respond quickly when there’s an issue”.

It wasn’t a surprise that Microsoft followed Google in halting browser upgrades. Both Chrome and Edge, after all, rely on the Google-led open-source Chromium project for their core technologies. “We are making this change to be consistent with the Chromium project, which recently announced a similar pause due to adjusted schedules,” wrote Kyle Pflug, principal programme management lead, in the Friday post.

Like Google, Microsoft told users that it will continue to service version 80 of its browser with security updates. The Redmond, Washington company did just last Thursday, when it refreshed Edge to build 80.0.3987.149; that build included fixes for the same vulnerabilities cited by Google when it patched Chrome 80 the day before.

Mozilla has not said if it would maintain its every-four-week schedule of upgrading Firefox, which last month accounted for far less browser share than Chrome but more than Edge. The next update, to Firefox 75, is expected 7 April.

IDG News Service

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