Microsoft: Chromium Edge for Windows 7 and 10 is here with new bug bounty

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A day after Microsoft served up its last security patches for Windows 7, the company released its new Chromium-based Microsoft Edge browser that supports Windows 10, Windows 8.1, and Windows 7. 

Microsoft announced the Microsoft Edge 79 stable build today following several months testing its Chromium-based Edge with users on the Canary, Developer and Beta channels. The stable build arrives just over a year after Microsoft announced the plan to switch from its own EdgeHTML rendering engine to Chromium's engine. Google released Chrome 79 on December 11.  

Microsoft today announced a new Microsoft Edge Bounty Program, offering researchers rewards of between $1,000 and $30,000 for bugs that are “unique to Microsoft Edge” and which do not reproduce on Google Chrome. They’re the same conditions and top rewards Microsoft has tested in its Chromium Edge beta bug bounty since August, except rewards for certain vulnerabilities have been increased.     

Chromium-based Microsoft Edge reached general availability a day after Windows 7 support ended for most users. Home users face a hard cutoff date, but businesses have the option to pay for Extended Security Updates (ESU) for Windows 7. 

Microsoft has not stated how long it will offer Edge support for Windows 7. Google last week revealed Chrome will support Windows 7 for at least 18 months through to July 15, 2021 -- an offer aimed at companies that adopt Microsoft’s Windows ESU. 

But it still means consumers who stick with Windows 7 beyond end-of-life will also have an up-to-date version of Chrome to surf with. Google ended up supporting Windows XP for almost two years after Microsoft stopped supplying free security updates for it. 

One of the key changes Microsoft made by shifting to Chromium was decoupling Edge releases from Windows 10 feature releases, while also extending Edge support to Windows 7. 

Microsoft has now clarified how it will be handling the rollout of Edge to Windows 10 devices and Windows PCs in enterprise and education. 

Given that Edge is no longer tied to Windows 10, it means consumers can download the new browser immediately from Microsoft’s Edge website

For existing users of Windows 10, manually downloading and installing the new Edge will automatically replace the legacy EdgeHTML-version of Edge. 

“In some cases, you may be prompted to install additional updates. Your favorites, passwords, and basic settings will carry over to the new Microsoft Edge automatically. Web apps (including those built on EdgeHTML), and Microsoft Edge preview channels (such as Dev or Canary) will continue to work without interruption,” said Kyle Pflug, a senior lead on the Edge developer experience team

Notably, neither Pflug’s blogpost nor a separate post from Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of Windows, mention how long Microsoft will provide Edge support for Windows 7.       

The new Edge will however become available for Windows 10 users as they install future Windows major feature updates. The next version of Windows 10 is from the 20H1 branch and is officially called Windows 10 2004 and is due out around April 2020. 

And Microsoft will start moving Windows 10 users to the new Edge in “coming weeks”, starting with Windows Insiders in the Release Preview ring — the safest band of Windows 10 preview releases  behind the Fast and Slow Rings. 

Microsoft says it won’t automatically upgrade enterprise and education Windows 10 PCs at this time, suggesting there will be controls available for admins.

Pflug also assured Windows 10 users that the automatic Edge rollout will maintain users’ preferences and settings, such as favorities and passwords. Also, it won’t change user settings for the default browser, which is most likely Google Chrome. 

Eventually, the new Edge will be available through Windows Update after Microsoft completes more testing for stability.   

The Microsoft exec assures education and enterprise customers that they will be in “full control” of when the new Edge is deployed to managed devices. Additionally, the automatic rollout of new Edge will not have any impact on machines with Internet Explorer. 

While Edge releases are now officially decoupled from Windows 10 releases, Pflug notes that “in the future, we plan to include Microsoft Edge built-in to Windows, to be delivered through a future Windows 10 Feature Update for all customers.” So, Windows 10 2004 could come bundled with the new Edge. 

The new Edge is also available for macOS as well as iOS and Android. 

Pflug highlights the new “Internet Explorer mode” for critical legacy applications and websites. IT admins will also have the option to download an “offline deployment package” to test within their environments, Belfiore said.     

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