Microsoft is in the process of rebuilding its Edge browser around Chromium, the same open source project that powers Google's own Chrome browser. The transition will not happen overnight—Microsoft said in December that the move will happen over the "next year or so," with no specific date mentioned. That said, testing has already begun, and you can kick the rebuilt browser's tires right now, if you want.
Just as Microsoft does with Windows, it is testing new builds of its rebuilt Edge browser through an Insider program. "Calling all developers and tinkerers: your voices will help us shape the next version of Microsoft Edge. Sign up to be the first to know when preview builds are available," Microsoft states on its Edge Insider page.
The program is already underway, and for the brave, there is a leaked build available to download. Links are posted at PCBeta, a Chinese-language web forum. We are not saying you should race over there and download the beta (or alpha) build, as a random web forum is far removed from an official source, only that it's there if you are comfortable doing so.
For what it is worth, the folks at Bleeping Computer grabbed the download and are not reporting any security concerns. According to the security minded site, the leaked Edge build is based on Chrome 75 with an internal version number of 220.127.116.11. When first starting Edge, it asks if you want to import data from Chrome, such as favorites and history.
Edge's layout is a bit different than Chrome and is made to feel more like a Microsoft application. It also includes some of Microsoft's own services, such as SmartScreen (instead of Google Safe Browsing).
Source: Bleeping Computer
As has been confirmed by Microsoft, the retooled Edge browser supports Chrome extensions. Users can grab these directly from Chrome's web store, though Microsoft will also maintain its own extensions store. Those grabbed from Chrome's web store will carry a warning that they are unverified, as shown above.
The current version also has a bunch of new flags, all of which have to do with specific Microsoft technologies. Among them are flags for Fluent, PlayReady DRM for Windows 10, Edge Reading View, and others.
It's far too early to make any kind of real determination about Edge's future. However, it seems that users who have tried the leaked build are coming away impressed. That bodes well for Microsoft, given that the final release will undoubtedly end up far more polished than any test builds that currently exist.
If you want to give it a try yourself and are okay with the risks, follow this link to get started.
Top Image Source: PCBeta via Southampton Paradise