Google is cutting off Chrome extension installs from places other than the Chrome Web Store. If that sounds like a move to bolster the Web Store to the detriment of user freedom and choice, it is. But don't worry, Google says it's for your own good.Up until now, websites could host Chrome extensions themselves and prompt users to install them, if they wanted to. That is no longer an option.
Now, if users want to get an extension straight from its source, they have to download it to their computers, then go to the Extensions page in Chrome and load it manually. Good luck getting the vast majority of people to do that.
"To help keep you safe on the web, we have started analyzing every extension that is uploaded to the Web Store and take down those we recognize to be malicious. Unfortunately, we don't have the ability to take down malicious items promoted on other websites," Google said in a help article.
"For instance, online hackers may create websites that automatically trigger the installation of malicious extensions," it warned.
"The updated installation process prevents websites from automatically triggering unauthorized extension installations and gives you more control over the extensions you're adding to Chrome," it said reassuringly.
Granted, few developers had extensions on their websites and not in the Web Store. What's more, for most developers, the Web Store is the better option, if only for the massive reach, it's built into the browser over 300 million people use every month.
But there are cases where the Web Store is not the best choice. Because Google gets to say what gets in and what doesn't. It may decide your extension isn't worthy of the Web Store and you'll be left out.
Then again, plenty of people have a tendency to do stupid things online, "childproofing" Chrome may not be the worst idea. Those that care about installing external extensions will know how to do it.