Chromium-based Edge is now available in preview form for Windows 7 and 8.1 users, so if you wanted to try Microsoft’s revamped browser in one of these older operating systems, now’s your chance.
Part of the big plan with the new Edge is to make it available across multiple platforms – whereas the old Edge was tried strictly to Windows 10 – and Microsoft has already released the Chromium-based spin for macOS back in May.
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To be honest, it was a bit of a surprise that it arrived on the Mac before earlier versions of Windows, but there you go. Windows 7 users clearly represent a large slab of a potential testing base, but at least they (and those on Windows 8/8.1) aren’t being kept out of the preview loop any longer.
You can download the browser for Windows 7 or 8.1 by heading to the Microsoft Edge Insider website, although note that only the Canary Channel version is available right now. That’s the earliest preview version (updated on a daily basis so it gets new features first), but also the least stable.
The more reliable Dev Channel and most stable Beta Channel versions aren’t yet downloadable, but Microsoft notes that the former is coming soon (and indeed the beta is also marked as coming soon, at least on the download website, but presumably not quite as soon as the developer build).
By all accounts Chromium-based Edge for these earlier versions of Windows works pretty much identically to the Windows 10 incarnation, which is good news.
Microsoft observes: “You will find the experience and feature set on previous versions of Windows to be largely the same as on Windows 10, including forthcoming support for Internet Explorer mode for our enterprise customers.”
As ever with preview versions of software, there are some known issues, including no support for dark mode, because that’s an OS system-wide setting on Windows 10 and macOS, with no equivalent in the older versions of Windows. However, Microsoft says it is planning to introduce an in-browser dark mode for Windows 7 and 8.1, so don’t worry, you won’t be left out in the cold (although you may be left in the dark).
Chromium-based Edge landing on Windows 7/8.1 represents the final piece of the puzzle in terms of the initial platforms Microsoft promised to make the browser available on.
There has been plenty of chatter about the browser coming to Linux as well, though, and it certainly seems that’s a distinct possibility. Plus it definitely makes sense in terms of Microsoft’s whole new philosophy of embracing open source, too.
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