In late 2018, Microsoft finally gave up on its in-house browser engine for desktops, moving its Edge browser over to the now nearly ubiquitous Chromium: The basis of Chrome. The first releases landed a bit under a year ago, and now some of Microsoft’s changes to Chromium are percolating upstream — that’s a developer way of saying Microsoft is offering some of its tweaks back to Google, and it’s integrating them back into Chromium where anyone running Chrome (and any other Chromium-based browsers) will also benefit from them.
The news comes courtesy of an eagle-eyed Redditor perusing Chromium bug reports, who spotted a communication regarding a small change in a tab context menu on Chrome. Turns out, a larger related change allowing you to move multiple tabs between windows is also planned, and Microsoft is behind it.
A very courteous exchange between a pair of developers at the two companies simply summarizes the new relationship we’re seeing between Microsoft and Google when it comes to Chromium:
Comment 1: firstname.lastname@example.org (Google)
“If you’re still interested in upstreaming this from Edge, we’d be happy to take it :)”
Comment 2: jugal…@microsoft.com (Microsoft)
“lgrey@, sounds great! I’ll take ownership of this issue then.”
The subsequent patch, already merged upstream by Google, is the icing on the apparent bromance cake. It isn’t the first patch submitted by a Microsoft employee to Chromium, nor is it the first patch accepted, but it is one of the first “big” features outside a bug fix or a workaround that we’ve seen, and The Verge notes that Microsoft has made over 1,000 smaller commits to Chromium over the last year, including a not-so-small tweak allowing Windows Hello login for 2FA.
One could argue that Microsoft and Google are becoming increasingly intertwined in recent years. Microsoft memorably announced its first Android-powered phone, the Surface Duo, late last year, which it claims is the beneficiary of a partnership with big G to “bring out the absolute best of Android.” Hopefully, Microsoft’s upstream changes to Chromium continue. Collaboration when it comes to code can only ever help both companies, and that’s not to mention the benefits to consumers across platforms.