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Microsoft has been more involved than you think

A few years ago, practically no one would have imagined that Chromium, the engine on which the Google Chrome web browser is built, could come to unify, with few exceptions, the rest of the browsers. Those of us who live through the various ages of the browser wars, which began in the last years of the last century with the competition between Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer, toWe are still a bit surprised to see how the hostilities suddenly became a collaboration between (almost) everyone to create a unique engine. Sometimes I think of Chromium as an international collaborative project, a kind of United Nations of technology.

One of the last big surprises was the announcement, by Microsoft, that would give up using his own engine and, instead, it would use Chromium in Microsoft Edge, something that today we are finishing normalizing, with Microsoft pushing users who are still on the previous version to upgrade to the one based on Chromium, and services such as WhatsApp removing support for Edge Legacy.

This enormous change in the browser sector, once a battlefield in which some bet on standards and others on proprietary technologies to improve the browsing experience (or so they said) has given rise to the most striking situations, and a perfect example of this is finding out that, today, Microsoft is one of the main contributors to the development and advancement of Chromium, something that we can see from this tweet by Eric Lawrence, part of the Microsoft Edge team, and that we shows that the contributions of those from Redmond translate into 161 collaborations with 1,853 CL (changelist).

In case you are not familiar with the terminology used by Google in its engineering teams, a CL, or list of changes, is a modification that has been sent to the version control platform used in a development (in this case Chromium).

From this data it is concluded that Microsoft’s commitment to Chromium is more than evident. Redmond has put a few of its engineers to work on advancing the browser engine used by most and thus, and in a year since Microsoft joined Chromium, they are already approaching 2,000 contributions, a milestone that, if they keep pace, they could still reach before the end of 2020.

The most distrustful will think that, with this collaboration, what Microsoft intends is to “sneak” some of its proprietary technologies into Chromium. However, there is one point to keep in mind when thinking about this. And, unlike what happened when he worked on his own engine, in the development of Chromium there is always “light and stenographers”. It is open, it is public and any interference in this regard would be detected immediately and, of course, denounced by the community, if not directly by the engineers of other companies that also participate in Chromium.