The company is looking for the developer community's help in rewriting the newly dubbed ChakraCore to work on Linux, OS X, and other platforms.
"ChakraCore is already designed to fit into any application stack that calls for a fast, scalable, and lightweight engine," Microsoft said. "We intend to make it even more versatile over time, both within and beyond the Windows ecosystem. While the initial January release will be Windows-only, we are committed to bringing ChakraCore to other platforms in the future. We'd invite developers to help us in this pursuit by letting us know which other platforms they'd like to see ChakraCore supported on to help us prioritize future investments, or even by helping port it to the platform of their choice."
That notion was echoed on Hacker News, where the announcement stirred much discussion. When a commenter said it's almost sad that Edge wasn't cross platform, a commenter with the handle "hiteshk_msft," self-identifying as a Microsoft engineer on the Chakra team, replied: "As the blog post says, we are definitely interested in going cross-platform. Which platforms would you be interested in seeing first?"
Linux was the first answer, echoed by many other commenters, with FreeBSD, OS X and Android also receiving votes.
If it does move to other platforms, ChakraCore might become one of the more valuable instruments for developers to put in their toolboxes, judging from Microsoft's performance and industry standard support accolades.
According to the blog post, Chakra was optimized to run faster with its inclusion as a core component of Windows 10 and surpasses Chrome and Firefox in several key benchmarks. Microsoft said it achieved superior performance through a "unique multi-tiered pipeline that supports an interpreter, a multi-tiered background JIT compiler, and a traditional mark and sweep garbage collector that can do concurrent and partial collections."
Microsoft said Chakra supports more of the latest ECMAScript standards, ES2015 (sometimes called ES6), than any other shipping browser.
Chakra also "has support for some of the future ECMAScript proposals like Async Functions and SIMD," Microsoft said. "It supports asm.js and the team is a key participant in helping evolve WebAssembly and its associated infrastructure."
Besides the Edge browser, Chakra also powers several other Microsoft technologies, the blog post indicated. "Today, outside of the Microsoft Edge browser, Chakra powers Universal Windows applications across all form factors where Windows 10 is supported -- whether it's on an Xbox, a phone or a traditional PC," Microsoft said. "It powers services such Azure DocumentDB, Cortana and Outlook.com. It is used by (and optimized for) TypeScript. And with Windows 10, we enabled Node.js to run with Chakra, to help advance the reach of Node.js ecosystem and make Node.js available on a new IoT platform: Windows 10 IoT Core."
In addition to opening up the ChakraCore technology to individual open source contributors, Microsoft said several organizations are interested in helping out with the project, singling out Intel, AMD and NodeSource as potential development partners moving forward.
"The community is at the heart of any open source project, so we look forward to the community cloning the repository, inspecting the code, building it, and contributing everything from new functionality to tests or bug fixes," Microsoft said. "We also welcome suggestions on how to improve ChakraCore for particular scenarios that are important to you or your business."
David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.