Microsoft continues to overhaul its Edge browser in preparation for the upcoming Creators Update due for release in early 2017. The latest enhancement to Edge is the addition of support for Google’s open-sourced Brotli compression algorithm.
Google developed Brotli to replace the Zopfli algorithm, a data compression software released in February 2013 that encodes data into DEFLATE, gzip, and zlib formats. For starters, Brotli first saw the light of day in 2015. Google initially designed Brotli for offline compression for the WOFF2 font format. Then, the search giant decided to introduce the compression algorithm to Firefox, Opera, and Chrome. Edge is now the latest web browser to support the standalone algorithm.
Windows Insiders on build 14986 can now check out the Brotli support on Edge. Meanwhile, the new content-encoding method will arrive on stable Windows 10 builds with the Creators Update in the spring.
Why Brotli matters
The addition of Brotli to Edge means the browser can now load webpages much faster while minimizing data and power consumption. Microsoft Senior Program Manager Rob Trace wrote in a blog post:
When used as an HTTP content-encoding method, Brotli achieves up to 20% better compression ratios with similar compression and decompression speeds. This ultimately results in substantially reduced page weight for users, improving load times without substantially impacting client-side CPU costs.
However, some Insiders are reporting a sluggish Edge performance, probably because of a known bug in current implementations. Microsoft explains:
Note that in the current preview release, there is a known issue which results in the F12 Developer Tools incorrectly not showing the accept encoding response header.
Microsoft is also optimizing for HTTPS in its Brotli implementation, but vows to continue decoding Brotli content on HTTP connections in a future preview release.
Currently, Edge accounts for 5.21% of the desktop browser market share, according to NetMarketShare’s November 2016 report. With the new features and updates set to roll out next year as part of the Creators Update, Microsoft might finally be able to convince users to move to Edge.
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