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Microsoft returns to Mac browser market after 16 years with 'Chromium-ed' Edge

Microsoft on Monday returned to the Mac browser market when it released the first public preview of its revamped Edge browser for macOS.

Delivery of the "Canary" edition for macOS came two weeks after prodigious Windows leaker WalkingCat, also known by his Twitter account @h0x0d, tweeted the download links for the Canary and more polished Dev builds of Edge for the Mac.

Like Google Chrome, Edge releases in multiple builds representing increasingly more stable versions of the browser. Canary, the least reliable, is updated daily, while the Dev version refreshes weekly. Beta and Stable builds appear every six weeks.

Microsoft first previewed the reworked Edge for Windows 10 in mid-April.

The browser, though, was announced late last year, when Microsoft said it would abandon its own technologies in favor of remaking Edge as a Chromium-based application. Chromium is the open-source project, dominated by Google, credited with developing the rendering and JavaScript engines that powered Chrome, then later, other browsers including Opera, Brave and Vivaldi. Microsoft did not pin a deadline to the "full-Chromium" Edge's production release, but said the browser would, unlike its predecessor, be a cross-platform app that supports Windows 10, Windows 8.1 and Windows 7, as well as macOS. (Edge browsers for Android and iOS already existed.)

So far, Microsoft has issued Canary for macOS and Canary and Dev for Windows 10.

Microsoft asserted that Edge for the Mac would be more than a quick port of the Windows version. "Microsoft Edge for macOS will offer the same new browsing experience that we're previewing on Windows, with user experience optimizations to make it feel at home on a Mac," wrote the Edge team in a post to a company blog. We are tailoring the overall look and feel to match what macOS users expect from apps on this platform.

In that same post, Microsoft pledged to have a Dev build of the browser ready for the Mac "very soon." As on Windows 10, Edge can be run in multiple builds simultaneously on macOS, allowing for, say, a Canary and Beta iteration to co-exist.

The new browser is Microsoft's first for the Mac line of personal computers since 2003, when the Redmond, Wash. developer called it quits on Internet Explorer (IE) for OS X. That browser - a derivative of the Windows version of IE - came out of the five-year deal Microsoft struck with Apple in 1997. From 1998 to 2003, IE for Mac was OS X's default browser. Apple replaced IE with its own Safari browser in October 2003 with the launch of OS X 10.3, aka "Panther."

Edge requires macOS 10.12 or later (that's 2016's Sierra for those not following Apple's numeric labels). This week's Canary build is based on Chromium 76.0.161.0. (Microsoft debuted Chromium 76 in the Windows 10 version earlier this month.) Google has slated Chrome 76 - also founded on Chromium of that number - to launch July 30.

Edge for the Mac can be downloaded from Microsoft's Edge Insider website.

This story, "Microsoft returns to Mac browser market after 16 years with 'Chromium-ed' Edge" was originally published by Computerworld.