Microsoft Delivering New Edge Browser via Automatic Updates
End users will likely begin receiving Microsoft's new Chromium-based Edge browser in January via the Automatic Updates service.
Details are described in recent Microsoft documents, such as this article. The nuance was noted by William Devereux, a senior program manager on the Microsoft Edge team, in this Twitter post (cited by a Thurrott article).
Microsoft is planning to update its new Edge browser more frequently because "browser releases aren't bound to the Windows major releases" anymore, the article indicated. The new Chromium-based Edge browser will get feature updates approximately every six weeks.
Unless the new browser delivery gets blocked by a configuration change, the Chromium-based Edge browser will become active, and the current Edge browser (based on EdgeHTML technology) will get hidden. Existing Edge pinned links and shortcuts will get replaced with links to the new browser. This switch possibly will kick off for organizations receiving automatic updates as early as the new browser's commercial release date, which will be Jan. 15, 2020.
Organizations that control Windows updates via Windows Server Update Services or System Center Configuration Manager (now called "Endpoint Configuration Manager") won't be affected by this automatic browser switch.
The switch will occur for organizations or individuals using Windows 10 version 1709 or newer. If the browser switch is not wanted, it's possible to set up a block beforehand by downloading and using a Blocker Toolkit to make a configuration change, as described in this Microsoft document. The toolkit sets a permanent block on the delivery of the Chromium-based Edge browser, but it still won't prevent end users from installing it themselves.
It's also possible to have concurrent access to the Chromium-based Edge browser and the EdgeHTML-based Edge browser, if wanted. That's done by making a Group Policy change, as described in this document.
Microsoft made changes in Windows 10 to support the new Edge "stable release" browser coming on Jan. 15. It already released three security updates this year (in September, October and November) for Windows 10 versions 1709 and newer that will do things like update the XML protocol for the new Edge browser and drop support for electronic book reading.
To continue to read e-books that use the .EPUB extension, Microsoft recommends downloading an ePub application from the Microsoft Store, as described in this support article.
Windows 7, Edge and IE
The Chromium-based Edge browser also was built with support for Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1. It was released at preview back in June for those operating systems.
Unfortunately, Windows 7 will fall out of support on Jan. 14, 2020, the very same day that the new Edge browser reaches "general availability." The Internet Explorer browser also will lose support on that date (IE 11 is the last Internet Explorer version, per a Microsoft FAQ).
Apparently, organizations that can't upgrade from Windows 7 will need to buy into the Extended Security Updates program for Windows 7. At that point, they'll be able to use the new Edge browser on that OS, but IE won't be a supported browser.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.