Chrome, Edge Launches Faster Exit Rate; companies can ignore versions

Google’s Chrome and Microsoft’s Edge started their four-week publishing cadence with the launch of version 94 of each browser last week.

Google released Chrome 94 on September 21, while Microsoft released Edge 94 three days later on September 24.

From these dates, Chrome and Edge will be upgraded every four weeks. Chrome 95 and Edge 95, for example, will debut on October 19 and 21, respectively. There will however be exceptions to this rate for the holidays. For example, Chrome 96, the final 2021 release, will be released on November 16, followed by Chrome 97 on January 4, 2022, seven weeks apart.

Google announced the upcoming change to a more frequent release schedule in early March; Microsoft quickly followed up with its own news a few days later.

(Microsoft can’t separate Edge’s release schedule from Chrome’s, as both are powered by Chromium, the open-source project dominated by Google engineers.)

Chrome and Edge’s new release pace mimics that of Mozilla’s Firefox, which moved to the same four-week schedule in September 2019.

Along with the release of Chrome 94 and Edge 94, Google and Microsoft have also each launched a company-specific release rate called “Extended Stable,” which is upgraded every eight weeks instead of four. The additional time between versions is intended to give IT administrators “a longer period of time to test and validate new browser versions.”

Extended Stable versions are released for Chrome and Edge on their peer versions. So, organizations that adopt the Extended Stable model with Chrome / Edge 94 will receive Chrome / Edge 96 in November but skip v. October 95.

IT administrators can set users’ copies of Chrome to the Extended Stable version through Windows group policies, in particular the Replacing the target channel option, as described in the online support document. (Instructions for setting Chrome to Extended Stable on macOS can be found here.) These policies can be set onsite by administrators or alternatively, using Chrome browser cloud management.

For Edge, it’s the same Replacing the target channel The policy can be invoked to move this browser to Extended Stable’s eight week release tempo. (To use its own jargon, Microsoft calls this the Extended stable channel.) Administrators can also trigger the longer release schedule using Configuration Manager or Intune.

Security updates that only contain fixes for newly reported vulnerabilities will continue to be received by Extended Stable builds at the same time as they are released for generic Stable versions of Chrome and Edge.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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