Not another YouTube: Google explains Chrome extension ban for Windows

Chrome browser extension ban
For internal use only

There will only be one place for Windows-based Chrome browser extensions to be stored in 2014, as Google is about to require all such extensions be hosted on the Chrome Web Store.

This isn't another Google-Microsoft app tiff. Malicious extensions are the reason developers are being forced to migrate all of their extensions to Google's internal servers starting in January.

"Many services bundle useful companion extensions, which causes Chrome to ask whether you want to install them (or not)," explained Erik Kay, Google engineering director, in an official blog post today.

"However, bad actors have abused this mechanism, bypassing the prompt to silently install malicious extensions that override browser settings and alter the user experience in undesired ways."

One example that Google highlighted involved replacing the New Tab Page without users' approval. The company even linked to hundreds of complaints from Windows users to back this up.

You shouldn't see a difference

Chrome users shouldn't see much of a change despite the sweeping new security efforts announced today.

"There will be no impact to your users, who will still be able to use your extension as if nothing changed," Kay advised developers.

He also mentioned that developers who want to keep extensions hidden from the Web Store can do so, in case they're used internally in a work group and shouldn't be shared with the public.

The only difference end-users will see is if developers don't migrate over to being hosted on the Chrome Web Store right away.

"If your extensions are currently hosted outside the Chrome Web Store you should migrate them as soon as possible," he warned before segueing into the overall goal of this trade-off.

"Protecting our users is a key priority, and we believe this change will help those whose browser has been compromised by unwanted extensions."

Matt Swider