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„Chrome won“: Windows group takes over the core of Google’s browser into its own product


A ls Microsoft’s Windows product manager Joe Belfiore on Microsoft’s „Build“ -Entwicklerkonferenz its new April 2015 Internet browser for Windows announced 10, he did not spare the superlatives: „This is the browser, think of the users if they want to create things, the fastest browser for Windows 10. “

The message was clear: Microsoft wanted to leave behind the image of lame Internet Explorer and build a web browser that should be faster than the competition – especially faster than Google’s rival product Chrome.

Alone, users were not interested in the pace: In November 2018, Edge has just a market share of 4.3 percent in the network, according to measurements by the independent analyst NetMarketShare. Even the aging Internet Explorer is more successful with a good eleven percent market share – by far the leader is Google’s Chrome with 63 percent.

Therefore, it is not surprising that Microsoft discontinues the development of its own web browser: Although Microsoft still wants to offer Edge, the browser remains part of Windows 10. But in the future Edge behind the facade of the user interface technically based on „Chromium“ – that’s what Google calls the parts of his in-house Chrome browser, which is freely available as so-called open source software on the net. Technically speaking, Microsoft’s edge browser is a variation of Chrome with a Microsoft user interface.

The radical step in the direction of Google is not surprising: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is known that on the one hand holds little of ideology wars against the competitors from California – so he has withdrawn Microsoft, for example, from lobby initiatives against Google and set up mutual patent battles , On the other hand, Nadella has no problems stomping on prestige projects when they seem to him to be of little value.

Microsoft programmers now support Chromium

Last but not least, Nadella’s new pragmatic Microsoft supports open source software more than ever, and Nadella even bought the world’s leading open source Github platform for $ 7.5 billion in the summer. The programmer team, which previously built the Edge software, should now contribute to the open-source software, the Microsoft programmers have already made initial suggestions for improvements to Google’s Chromium on Github. So in the future, Chromium, and thus the Chrome browser, could become software that is being jointly developed by both megacorporations.

This may be good for Google and Microsoft, and even website programmers will have less to do in the future because they will have to test their pages for fewer browser variants. In addition to Chromium, there are only two browser alternatives left: Apple’s Safari and the Firefox browser continue to use stand-alone software.

But from the point of view of users, regulators and competing Internet companies, Chromium dominance should give cause for concern: the heart of Chromium is the so-called „Blink“ rendering engine. It determines how users see web pages, which plugins work, how the web page programming language HTML is interpreted.

In future, more than ever: Only standards that are supported by Google’s Chromium, can prevail on the net – the two browser alternatives Safari and Mozilla Firefox come together just 14 percent market share. Safari is also maintained only for Apple devices.

It threatens a monoculture in the network

For both Windows users and Android smartphones, only Firefox remains as an alternative. Web programmers can confidently optimize their pages for Chrome only, without taking the risk of scaring off relevant portions of their users. Conversely, this effect is likely to encourage even more users to switch to Chromium browsers.

It threatens a monoculture in the network: “ Chrome has won, “ commented in the summer of former Mozilla technology chief Andreas Gal. This should not only cause concern for Google’s competitors, but also users: Vulnerabilities in the Chrome engine „Blink“ may be a major problem for all users in the future due to a lack of alternatives, such as „Blink“ incompatible websites in historical archives may stay closed.

Chromium’s dominance on the Web is also part of a larger trend towards Google software, which also causes regulatory agencies a headache: Google’s open operating system Android is already driving well over 80 percent of all mobile devices on the net, including smartphones, smartphones , televisions and other smartphones. Home devices.

With the „Accelerated Mobile Pages“ (AMP) standard, Google also dominates the delivery of media content on mobile devices – publishers and broadcasters (including WELT) use the HTML alternative to display their pages particularly quickly and easily on mobile browsers. AMP in turn works very well in the Chromium environment, Google is currently implementing special privacy settings and also indirectly determines which types of online advertising publishers may use in AMP.

Even for Microsoft, the alternative to Google was not worth it

Already AMP is in combination with Android and Chromium a software package, with the Google on the one hand, the complete user experience of websites determines, on the other hand indirectly dictates the content providers in the network, how they can design their pages. In Europe, the Group has already drawn the displeasure of the European competition guard: The combination of Chrome and Android is part of an investigation by Competition Commissioner Margrete Vestager .

But it is doubtful if the EU’s competition watchdogs can seriously shake Google’s global software dominance. With Microsoft, one of the largest Google competitors had to admit that the attempt to establish an alternative was simply not worth it.