Like many other web browsers, Google Chrome can work with third-party extensions that change the way the browser behaves under certain circumstances. Want to change every instance of the word “cloud” in a web page with the word “butt?” There’s an extension for that.

There are plenty of other extensions available from the Chrome Web Store. But it’s also possible to install extensions from third-party sources in some versions of Chrome. But Google’s going to make it tougher to do that.

chrome extensions

Last year the company started blocking extensions that weren’t downloaded from the Chrome Web Store for most Windows users. Now Google is extending that ban on extensions from outside the Web Store to Mac users and to Windows users running the dev channel.

The company says this policy cuts down on users accidentally installing extensions that may contain malware or they simply didn’t want mean to install in the first place. On Windows, Google says this has led to a 75 percent drop in customer support requests for help uninstalling unwanted extensions. 

Developers can still load extensions for testing using inline installation or enterprise policy.

Still, this is the sort of move that’s going to bug some people who prefer to get their software from outside the walled garden of an official app store. Fortunately, there are alternatives to Chrome that don’t have the same restriction.

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16 replies on “Google expands ban on Chrome extensions from outside the Web Store”

  1. About time, I’ve had so many viruses come in undetected via extensions its not funny.

  2. 95% of that was the Ask search and toolbar, that came with Java. Thanks, Oracle, I owe you one (punch in the face)!

    1. Yeah, Ask toolbar is absolutely unforgivable. My friend constantly complains to me about Ask toolbar whenever he upgrades JRE on his machine. I use Java for web service development and never run into Ask toolbar installer. Eventually, we found out JDK is actually clean and not bundled with any crapware.

  3. No problem making these sort of policies the install default, but somewhere we need a pref setting to take the training wheels off. If they ever pull this sort of stunt with the Linux version it is time to look for a current Chromium build, period.

    Let me make this simple for these idiot corporate types. It is my computer, I make the decisions. When you give me a computer you can attach strings to it…. and maybe I take it and maybe I look the gift horse in the mouth and say “No thanks.”

    1. Yeah, it’s your computer, but if you are using their browser, you are getting to use it for free, so it’s not quite that simple. Nothing is ever completely free, after all.

    2. Google did it for good reasons, this is right for security reasons too.

      Chrome will be safer and that’s good for everyone.

      1. Security wasn’t the only reason, Google is also concerned about making sure they get revenue from people using their app store and it also helps them maintain control over the platform…

        Keep in mind they’re basing most of the product on Open Source software, which can be used by anyone and they don’t have to pay Google either… but Google’s business model employs methods like using proprietary apps and services to keep the platform under their dominant control and help make sure OEMs follow their rules, helping to generate alternate revenue sources for Google, etc.

        This is what they have already done with Android, all the Google apps and services are proprietary and thus OEMs have to follow their rules in order to use them… otherwise, they can’t use Google’s proprietary apps and services and would then have to set up their own apps and services ecosystem to replace them but so far only Amazon has succeeded in doing that with their Kindle Fire platform…

        But getting out from under Google’s tight control is the reasons why projects like Tizen exist to provide a alternative that gives control back to the OEMs… and in many ways the end users as well…

  4. Let’s look at the ad blockers. Are the really effective ones banned now? PR nightmare, so I doubt it.

  5. is it me or does google seem to be slowly moving to a Microsoft mindset. “CONTROL” on the other hand as working as I.T. the amount of people that get Malware in my building is mind blowing so I can understand that. I think it should be a choice. How side loading is disabled by default. but we can turn it on.

    1. But the reality is that in a more open system, there will always be a lot more people running into trouble from malware attacks than there are techies who want to side-load apps or extensions. It’s a balancing act, and it’s easy to ding Google for things like this, but they also get dinged very hard when their browser is the vector of a widespread hack attack.

    2. It’s part of becoming standard software. When Google Chrome was just a little upstart browser taking on the IE juggernaut, it just wasn’t worth the hacker’s time. Now they have cornered a big share of the market, with millions of non-technical users, they are under increasing pressure to make using their browser as safe as possible.

    3. Google has always been about control… it’s key to them actually making profits… Since tight control helps ensure people use their proprietary apps and services instead of competing alternatives… Especially, when many of their platforms are based around Open Source software that normally prevents anyone from having full control and making direct profits…

      Like they maintain control over Android by leveraging their apps and services, all of which are proprietary and thus they set the rules for their use, who gets to use them, etc. The only way to get around it is to replace all their apps and services with an alternative, which only Amazon has successfully managed to do so far…

      While Google’s revenue model is primarily through their apps and services… like Google actually makes more money off iOS users than Android because most use Google search, etc. and generally spend more…

      It’s also why Google has been under investigation by the EU for anti-trust complaints for a number of years now… and why many companies back projects like Tizen to try to develop a freer alternative…

      MS hardly has a monopoly on these sort of things, most people just are biased to thinking of only them but a lot of companies have done similar or even worse… they just usually don’t make the general news or aren’t as well known a company…

      That said, I agree… this does help improve security for the platform but like pointed out that wasn’t their only motivation…

  6. It will be a PITA for some things. On the other hand this makes it that much better a browser for most users. How great would it be to check out your Mom’s computer when she says it has gotten slow again and not find a crapped up browser? Or even better is that she doesn’t even tell you it’s slow because the browser didn’t get junked up.
    Honestly it won’t bother me much at all. I’ve come to a minimalist place with regard to extensions anyway. A lot of them sound great and really useful. But then you never remember they are there anyway so they go unused. Unused but loading up on every tab you open.

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