There is a principle in the open source software world that goes “release early, release often” that has been embraced by the so-called agile software development philosophy that many developers and companies now adopt in turn. The idea is to be able to more quickly test and gather feedback in the real-world and, in the long run, also push out fixes sooner rather than later. This fast-paced process seems to be a perfect fit for the equally fast-paced development of Web technologies and security vulnerabilities and Microsoft is switching to the same cadence that Google announced for Chrome’s release cycle.
Google Chrome is close to reaching a three-digit version, something that would have probably been unthinkable in the old ways of software development. Google adopted a faster release cycle a few years back but that doesn’t seem to be enough to catch up with the needs of the Web where bugs, security, vulnerabilities, and new features are always in need of patches. Last week, Google announced its switch to a four-week release cycle for Chrome and Microsoft is follows suit.
On the one hand, it isn’t that surprising since Microsoft Edge is now based on Chromium anyway. On the other hand, Microsoft could have also opted to adopt a slightly slower cadence to iron out kinks on its own end as it adds its own features and fixes on top of Chrome. Given its track record with Windows update, some might think that would be a wiser strategy.
Nonetheless, Microsoft announced that it is adopting that four-week release cycle for Microsoft Edge by default starting Microsoft Edge version 94, which is the same version number where Chrome will switch over to the new milestone cycle. Just like Google, Microsoft is also giving enterprise customers an option to slow the releases down by switching to an 8-week Extended Stable release cycle. Such customers will have to explicitly enable this option, otherwise, they will default to a new release every four weeks instead.
A fast release cycle will probably be welcome considering how fast Internet vulnerabilities pop up all the time but there will undoubtedly also be concerns about the quality of those releases. Hopefully, Microsoft and Google won’t be pushing out big features that quickly, risking breaking people’s browsing experiences faster as well.