Google kicks toolbars out of Chrome Web Store

chromeGoogle is kicking toolbars and other “multipurpose extensions” out of the Chrome Web Store in an effort to keep its browser’s interface uncluttered and to protect users from unpleasant surprises.

The change will be disruptive to many extension programmers, but Google is giving them until June 2014 for existing extensions. New ones must abide by the new rules immediately, said Chrome engineering director Erik Kay.

“Extensions in the Chrome Web Store must have a single purpose that is narrow and easy to understand,” Kay said in a blog post on Thursday. “While this has always been the intent of the Chrome extension system, not all extensions have lived up to this ideal. These multi-purpose extensions can crowd your browser UI and slow down your web browsing — sometimes significantly.”

The company singled out toolbars in particular. Google had tried to keep them out of Chrome, but the extension system fundamentally couldn’t block them technologically, so the company moved to a policy change instead.

Google generally favors open app stores that are governed more by user reviews than by a central authority approving software. But even with its relatively open approach, Google still is showing that it’s got an ecosystem it wants to govern, and that it believes walled gardens still have a place in the tech industry. >more