Google has been threatening the world that it will cut down support for Chrome extensions that aren’t in the Web Store since last year. The company has finally announced that the new rules are coming into force.
The main reasoning behind Google’s decision is to protect Chrome users from malicious extensions since some of these tools have managed to hijack people’s browsers.
“We’re constantly working to keep Chrome users safe as they browse, with built-in features like Safe Browsing, which blocks many types of malicious websites and downloads. In the case that malicious software has managed to hijack your settings, we've added a ‘reset browser settings’ button, so you can get things back to normal. But since the bad guys continue to come up with new ways to cause our users headaches, we are always taking additional measures,” Google’s Engineering Director Erik Kay wrote.
That being said, the company has already started to enforce the new policy to put a stop to extension malware.
Since malware can change how browsers work by installing extensions on user machines to inject ads or track browsing activities, Google wants to do its part and help protect users. “With this change, extensions that were previously installed may be automatically disabled and cannot be re-enabled or re-installed until they’re hosted in the Chrome Web Store.”
This means that developers need to submit their work to Google, which will check it before allowing it to roll out into the Web Store and therefore make sure that it won’t damage the computers of Chrome users. This should also increase user trust in the apps hosted by Google’s store.
For the time being, you’ll still be able to use the “drag and drop” trick into the Extensions menu to install apps that were downloaded from other sources, as well as installs via Enterprise policy.
“If you have a dedicated installation flow from your own website, you can make use of the existing inline installs feature. Windows developer channel users, as well as those on other operating systems, are unaffected by these changes,” Google explains.
The Internet giant is encouraging users to go to the support forums to flag any problems or extensions that were disabled incorrectly.
The changes apply to users of the latest Chrome Beta version, 36.0.1985.18, that was just rolled out today, but it could possibly be rolled out to the stable version with the next update as well, since Google may be eager to make the new policy universal for Chrome users, especially after all the delays.