Google, Microsoft set aside rivalry to build more secure browser extensions

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Google and Microsoft aim to work together on standardizing browser extensions (opens in new tab) to improve their security and performance which is why the two tech giants, along with Apple and Mozilla, have launched the WebExtensions Community Group (WECG).

Over the last few years, multiple browsers (opens in new tab) have adopted a broadly compatible model for extensions and this is why the WECG wants to explore how browser makers and other interested parties can work together to help advance a common browser extension platform.

Google, Microsoft, Apple and Mozilla are essentially joining forces to create a set of standards for browser extensions that will be guided by a shared set of HTML and W3C TAG design principles. These principles include “compatibility, performance, security, privacy, portability, maintainability and well-defined behavior” according to an announcement (opens in new tab) from the World Wide Web Consortium (opens in new tab).

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By using the existing extensions model and APIs supported by Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Firefox and Safari as a foundation, the WECG will start by working on a specification. 

Standardizing browser extensions

Together the founding members of the WECG will develop a shared vision for browser extensions as they work towards future standardization.

They plan to do this by focusing on making it easier for developers to create extensions by specifying a consistent model and common core of functionality, APIs and permissions while also outlining an architecture that enhances performance and is even more secure and resistant to abuse. 

However, the group will not specify every aspect of the web extensions platform or existing implementations. At the same time, browser makers will continue to operate their extension stores (opens in new tab) fully independently with their own technical review and editorial policies.

While Google, Microsoft, Apple and Mozilla are the founding members of the WebExtensions Community Group, other browser makers, extension developers and interested parties are also welcome to join the effort as well.

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After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.