Microsoft has overhauled its Edge web browser which is now based on the open source Chromium browser. And, it’s finally available as beta on Linux.
The new Microsoft Edge web browser on Linux
After initial reluctance and uncertainties, it seems that Microsoft is finally going to bring the new Edge browser to Linux. In its annual developer conference Microsoft Ignite 2019, the session on Edge Browser mentioned that it is coming to Linux. In Microsoft Ignite 2020, they announced the availability of Microsoft Edge (as a dev preview) on Linux in October.
Now, that it is finally available, how do you install Microsoft Edge preview on Linux?
Install Microsoft Edge beta on Linux right now!
To get started, you just need to download the suitable package (.deb/.rpm) for Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, or openSUSE from its Microsoft’s Edge Insider website.
Using DEB or RPM file is super easy. Just double-click on the downloaded file to install it.
The file should be opened in the Software Center and you can install it from there. Alternatively, you can use a tool like Gdebi for Ubuntu/Debian based distributions.
Once installed, you can launch it from the application menu and enjoy it.
How to update Microsoft Edge on Linux?
Microsoft adds its repository to the sources.list so that you get updates to Microsoft Edge through system updater. Now that’s super cool, right.
Alternate Method: Install Microsoft Edge beta on Ubuntu based Linux distributions via command line
In either case, you can also add the official repository to install Microsoft Edge on Linux. Here are the commands that you have to follow through the terminal to add the PPA and install Edge.
Download the GPG key for the Microsoft repository.
curl https://packages.microsoft.com/keys/microsoft.asc | gpg --dearmor > microsoft.gpg
Add this GPG key to the trusted keys in your system.
sudo install -o root -g root -m 644 microsoft.gpg /etc/apt/trusted.gpg.d/
Now, add the repository to your sorces.list directory.
sudo sh -c 'echo "deb [arch=amd64] https://packages.microsoft.com/repos/edge stable main" > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/microsoft-edge-dev.list'
It would be good to remove the downloaded GPG key because it has already been added to the system.
sudo rm microsoft.gpg
The above-mentioned commands add the necessary repositories. Now, you just need to install Microsoft Edge using these commands:
sudo apt update && sudo apt install microsoft-edge-dev
Microsoft Edge is currently a developer preview build on Linux but it works fine for the most part. You still do not have the ability to sign in / sync but considering it as a preview build, I must say that it is pretty impressive to start with.
Of course, it still may not be enough to replace your primary browser like Firefox, but if the need arrives, you may use it.
Is Microsoft Edge coming to Linux really a big deal?
Microsoft’s Internet Explorer once dominated the browser market share, but it lost its dominance in the last decade to Google’s Chrome.
Microsoft tried to gain its lost position by creating Edge, a brand new web browser built with EdgeHTML and Chakra engine. It was tightly integrated with Microsoft’s digital assistant Cortana and Windows 10.
However, it still could not bring the crown home and as of today, it stands at the fourth position in desktop browser usage share.
Lastly, Microsoft decided to give Edge an overhaul by rebasing it on open source Chromium project. Google’s Chrome browser is also based on Chromium. Chromium is also available as a standalone web browser and some Linux distributions use it at as the default search engine.
What’s the big deal with Microsoft Edge coming to Linux? Don’t we have plenty of web browsers available for Linux already? I think it has to do with the ‘Microsoft Linux rivalry’ (if there is such a thing). If Microsoft does anything for Linux, specially desktop Linux, it becomes a news.
I also think that Edge on Linux has mutual benefits for Microsoft and for Linux users. Here’s why.
What’s in it for Microsoft?
When Google launched its Chrome browser in 2008, no one had thought that it will dominate the market in just a few years. But why would a search engine put so much of energy behind a ‘free web browser’?
The answer is that Google is a search engine and it wants more people using its search engine and other services so that it can earn revenue from the ad services. With Chrome, Google is the default search engine. On other browsers like Firefox and Safari, Google pays hundreds of millions to be kept as the default web browser. Without Chrome, Google would have to rely entirely on the other browsers.
Microsoft too has a search engine named Bing. The Internet Explorer and Edge use Bing as the default search engine. If Edge is used by more users, it improves the chances of bringing more users to Bing. More Bing users is something Microsoft would love to have.
What’s in it for Linux users?
I see a couple of benefits for desktop Linux users. With Edge, you can use some Microsoft specific products on Linux. For example, Microsoft’s streaming gaming service xCloud maybe available on the Edge browser only.
Another possible benefit is an improved Netflix experience on Linux. Of course, you can use Chrome or Firefox for watching Netflix on Linux but you won’t be getting the full HD or ultra HD streaming because it is only available on Microsoft Edge browser (not even Google Chrome).
I tried watching Netflix using Microsoft Edge on Linux but the streaming quality is as poor as the remake of Rebecaa. I hope Microsoft brings full HD streaming on Linux through Edge in near future.
What do you think?
What’s your feeling about Microsoft Edge coming to Linux? Now, that we have the preview, do you feel like getting your hands on the stable build soon? Have you tried it yet? Do share your views in the comment section below.