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Microsoft will soon make Edge a Chromium-based (i.e. WebKit) browser. This is good for Microsoft and the WebKit ecosystem, but not necessarily good for the web as a whole (since this further allows WebKit to define what is standard, vs WebKit following proper standards).

Since the existing Edge implementation is going away, this old code will have little or no value to Microsoft. The community might find value taking a browser like Edge and breathing new life into it. If enough momentum (i.e. market-share) can be gained by an open-source spin-off, perhaps Microsoft would at some point even return to using their creation.

At the very least, the code has the Microsoft name on the copyright and breeds good-will to the open-source community, which is something that Microsoft has invested large amounts of money to do in recent years.

That said, why wouldn't Microsoft make the existing Edge browser (in its entirety) open-source?

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    Just like the issues with IE 10+ years ago, it could be that Edge is too tied/bundled to the OS code or other areas they definitely wouldn't consider releasing source for. – ivanivan Jul 19 at 15:33
  • @ivanivan Poor ms, they would be so happy to opensource it, but it can't happen... sad... – peterh says reinstate Monica Jul 19 at 16:20
  • Only those at MS know all the facts. It could be licensing, if it used a framework like qt they would need to release the open version under gpl, which they may not want to do. It could be language, it may have used something obscure like xojo (previously RealBasic) and they want to re-write it in C/C++. It may be that some contributed code is not 100% copyrighted by MS which they can't easily share. Some of that may sound absurd coming from MS, but the project could have started at a small company that they bought out. – sambler Jul 20 at 6:21
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There are several reasons why releasing the source code for Edge under a FLOSS license may not be a worthwhile investment for Microsoft:

  • The code may be tightly coupled with other Microsoft components (e.g., undocumented Windows APIs) that aren't intended for third-party use, so Microsoft is reluctant to disclose code that makes use of them.

  • The code and documentation may be unfit for release to the public such that it would look bad for Microsoft: if they released code that was quite difficult to build or understand, it might be embarrassing, or at least look like a cheap "reputation grab" by appearing to release something significant without doing the work to make it maximally useful.

  • Web standards change quickly. Unless a significant community will invest in an open-sourced Edge, it will become obsolete very quickly. This differs from a tool to accomplish a particular job (word processing, photo editing, etc.) because a browser must actively change and grow in order to remain useful to render Web documents. It might be embarrassing for Microsoft to have Edge live on as a kind of "undead" project that grows rapidly less useful over time, rather than to cleanly kill it at once.

  • Good points. I assumed that since it was available on other platforms (such as Xbox) it would be more portable, but I guess all of those platforms have some sort of "Universal Windows" APIs. Also the "clean-kill" perspective makes sense. Sorry I don't have enough rep to up-vote. – James K Jul 19 at 20:53

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