Google is Up to Its Old Tricks With the New Edge

Posted on February 21, 2020 by Mehedi Hassan in Google Chrome, Web browsers with 35 Comments

Google’s Chrome Web Store is probably the web’s biggest extensions store. Chrome Web Store allows users to download extensions for Google Chrome, but it also allows users using other Chromium-based browsers to download extensions.

That applies to browsers like the new Microsoft Edge, which is built on Chromium. Microsoft engineers collaborated closely with Google engineers when building the new Edge, and both the companies plan on working together going forward.

But Google recently started warning users (via Neowin) of “security” issues when they try downloading extensions from the Chrome Web Store on the new Microsoft Edge browser. The company shows a warning saying “Google recommends switching to Chrome to use extensions securely,” with a download link to Google Chrome.

You can simply choose to ignore the warning, but it is very weird to see Google showing such a peculiar warning to Edge users considering the fact that they have been working with Microsoft on Chromium. But more importantly, there aren’t any known issues when it comes to using Chrome Web Store extensions on other browsers, and that includes the new Microsoft Edge. So it isn’t exactly clear what type of “security” issues users will face if they try to use Chrome Web Store extensions on any other browser than Chrome.

Microsoft has its own extensions store for the new Edge, but its collection of extensions is nowhere as large as that of the Chrome Web Store. Still, Microsoft is not any better in terms of things like this — when you search for “Chrome” on Bing, it shows you a big ad for the new Microsoft Edge, for example.

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Comments (36)

36 responses to “Google is Up to Its Old Tricks With the New Edge”

  1. Avatar

    carlluna2001

    I should’ve jumped to the last paragraph instead. Not to defend Google here but Microsoft initiated this issue first. If both browsers are using the same engine and collaborating on bringing a standardized internet experience, both should leave users the heck alone.

  2. Avatar

    IanYates82

    In reply to MikeGalos:

    Yep. And why even have a test? If I visit there in Firefox I couldn't even use the extensions. There's zero security threat.


    So it's not a "detect chromium" issue. It's more that I reckon they'll claim edge makes you tick the box to allow third party stores for extensions, similar to how Android makes you check a box if you side-load an app (not from the play store).

    Technically a security issue, but only if you're also admitting that your (Google's) store is providing the security issue...

  3. Avatar

    anoldamigauser

    Extensions are sort of the new equivalent of ActiveX controls anyway. Some are absolutely useful, but the majority are just another attack surface and privacy violation.

    Google loses out on collecting a lot of data when folks choose to use a non-Google Chromium browser. That data is the oil that runs their ship, and they will not let it go without a fight. I would gladly pay to use Google products, but I will not give up my privacy, such as it is these days, to use them.


  4. Avatar

    rlcronin

    I dunno. This sorta seems like they just didn't generalize their test for Chromium-derived browsers well enough such that this warning is being erroneously shown for same. Like, the test is "If browser not equals Chrome" rather than "If browser isn't a Chromium variant". It is pretty sad that people leap immediately to the conclusion that this is some sort of evil plot rather than just a simple mistake.

  5. Avatar

    solomonrex

    False warnings about security are bad for security! Use Firefox!

  6. Avatar

    gregsedwards

    Google does crap like this all the time. My company is in the process of rolling out G Suite, and we've found a number of subtle changes in the way G Suite apps work with Chrome vs. everything else, including other Chromium browsers like the new Edge. Case in point, features like offline availability are only shown in Chrome (right), even if you spoof the browser agent in Edge (left):

    It's insidious garbage like this that makes me hate using Chrome and Google products in general. If there's a legit reason that features are only supported on a specific platform, then fine, but otherwise, it comes off as a cheap ploy to make the experience suck just enough that nobody will choose to use a competitor's tools to access your service.

    And this notion that it's an honest mistake is just naive. Professional developers don't just target specific browsers accidentally. They do this kind of stuff on purpose. Just like Microsoft used to do with IE. Google needs to realize the fallout that will eventually come from this tactic.

  7. Avatar

    codymesh

    A grand total of zero people are surprised by this

  8. Avatar

    Cubkyle

    I think this alert is actually partly accurate.

    Google has the ability with Chrome to reach into all installed browsers and disable extensions that are found to be malicious. They recently used this to disable 500 extensions that were harmful.

    That feature has almost certainly been stripped out of the new Edge.


    Of course, that's small consolation to anyone who had been using one of those extensions for a year before those were removed.


    Source for anyone who is interested:

    https://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2020/02/17/google-pulls-500-malicious-chrome-extensions-after-researcher-tip-off/


    To be clear, not saying this should make someone go back to Chrome or it excuses anything any company is doing. Just pointing out that this is what they're referring to when they make this "security" claim.

  9. Avatar

    r2d22

    what a surprise /s


    scroogle style

  10. Avatar

    Winner

    This might be somewhat shitty of Google, but it does crack me up seeing Microsoft being subject to behaviors that it itself did to its competitors over the years.

    Karma, baby.

  11. Avatar

    melinau

    This is exactly the kind of childish nonsense which confirms the need for these Silicon Valley giants to be more tightly controlled and most importantly taxed.

  12. Avatar

    RonV42

    Google has done more damage with their reputation because of these type of tricks to get you to use their services and chrome. Every few days I get calls from my Mom about how come google wants me to switch browsers. I always have her click the message away and 3 or 4 days latter it's back. Even at work where we are deploying the new EDGE browser and removing Chrome we get the "for your best experience..." messages showing up in browsers when presenting in meetings.


    I think the next stop on this train will be Google mandating that Chrome extensions also include warnings from each extension developer that they aren't running in the intended browser.

  13. Avatar

    skolvikings

    Yep, I just went to the Chrome Web Store in the new Edge and I see the same warning. I dismissed the warning and closed out of Edge and relaunched. The warning comes back.

  14. Avatar

    Rcooper81

    A similar warning pops up when using Google Docs.



  15. Avatar

    bnyklue

    I actually think it's hilarious that the two most unethical companies in tech undercut each other so often. This race to the bottom has been going on for years.

  16. Avatar

    will

    Maybe Google has seen a shift in users to the new Edge and they are doing what they can to keep people with Chrome?

  17. Avatar

    untitled1

    The only security at stake here is Google's profits.

  18. Avatar

    TheSchmed

    Your data isn't securely in Google's sweaty hands!

  19. Avatar

    Thomas Parkison

    Don't care, I'll continue to use Microsoft (Chromium) Edge because it's a damn good browser.

  20. Avatar

    bmcdonald

    Typical useless tactic from Google.


    Amazing how they suddenly come out of the woodwork when a few serious new threats appear to their data hoarding efforts.


    I am feeling very "secure" relishing all the data I am now not giving them due to switching browsers.


    So glad I dropped Chrome out of our environment. Oh and BTW Brave (and the new Edge) work just fine with the 3 extensions I use with it.


    B

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