Why the death of EdgeHTML is bad for the Internet
Microsoft gave up on it’s browser engine, EdgeHTML in favour of Chromium. It’s IE 6 all over again.
Imagine this… there’s three big banks in the world. That’s it. A huge, for-profit, commercial bank that controls most of the money in the world, a second, scrappy for-profit bank that’s trying to compete with that first bank, and a third non-profit bank that has a tremendous amount of support and love from the community, but doesn’t have the pockets of the for-profit banks. Now imagine that scrappy bank goes under. Competition suffers. More pressure is put on the non-profit. The largest bank gains more power over the world’s currencies. Choice goes away. The giant bank can charge whatever they want because really… what are your other options?
A similar scenario is happening online. This week, Microsoft announced that it was going to shutter EdgeHTML in favour of Chromium in future upgrades and versions of Windows 10. This is not good for the Internet at large. As much as I rely on Google, I no longer trust them to stay true to their “do no evil” mantra of the early 2000’s. With Chromium being the lions share of the browser engines available, that choice, freedom, and motivation to innovate goes away a little more.
Remember this madness?
(In my best old man voice) Of course you don’t you little millennial bast’id with your social media, and your always online, and your stupid hairdos… get off my lawn! Let me give you a little history lesson. Back in the day, there were basically two browsers: Netscape and Internet Explorer. When Microsoft really pushed IE hard in the faces of computer users everywhere, they pleased the developer community by making cool new features that flew in the face of W3C standards. This caused a lot of websites to build two versions; an IE version that was cooler and more cutting edge; and a Netscape version that didn’t have all the new hotness.
A major issue with that scenario was that until a major competitor came along (in the form of Firefox to compete with IE 6) there was no real reason on Microsoft’s part to innovate the browser. As time went on, IE became more bloated, and unable to keep up with emerging standards to the point where it imploded and had to be rebuilt from the ground up with the EdgeHTML engine. However, now that Microsoft has chosen to shutter EdgeHTML, and Chromium and Mozilla are the only two major browser engines available, history seems doomed to repeat itself. Indeed, it’s already happening with some developers focusing their development on Chrome speculative features that aren’t ratified by the W3C.
So how does this tie into ColdFusion?
It’s pretty simple actually… I don’t want to go back to the Netscape/IE days. Building disparate versions of sites for different browsers sucked. Hard. I do want standards that get adhered to… and I don’t want Google to be the gatekeeper of those standards. I want those standards certified by an independent, not-for-profit organization that’s doing it out of passion; not out of a sense of how much additional PII they can glean from their users. I want Adobe and ColdFusion to know how to build their future products to adhere to internationally ratified and accepted standards; not what some commercial enterprise decided they could push out in their latest release that isn’t supported anywhere else.
As much as I dislike IE, and wanted to see it die, Edge gave me hope that the spirit of competition would help drive innovation.