Tech

Google Decides to Freeze Chrome on Version 80 Until Further Notice

By Bill Toulas / March 20, 2020

Google Chrome, the world’s most widely used Internet browser, will stop at version 80 until further notice, as the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak has severely impacted the team’s development process. The same will also apply to the Chrome OS releases, as Google wants to ensure that everything will continue to work reliably. It means that there will be no new features introduced on these projects for the foreseeable future, as adding new stuff implies that someone will have to test and debug it. With most of the team working remotely, this is apparently very hard to do now.

Chrome 81 was planned to be one of the most feature-packed releases ever. It was supposed to bring an amazing new augmented reality API, Web NFC (near field communications) features, the “Origin Trials” testing platform, and numerous element upgrading and protocol deprecation actions. In this situation, it would be irresponsible to just release the new version to hundreds of millions of users and then hope nothing breaks. Version 81 was supposed to launch earlier this month (March 17). Still, Chrome will stay on v80 instead, and the development team will work on fixing existing bugs, improving the browser’s stability, security, and performance.

To be honest, having new features is always nice, but Chrome was in need of some in-depth maintenance, too, as the browser has been acting up since last year. There’s an increasing number of crashes, hangs, and freezes starting from mid-2018. While many of the issues were fixed along the way, Chrome’s developers were always on the run to meet release schedules. This period could be an amazing opportunity for them to bring Chrome back in shape, do some code clean-up, look deeper into potential security issues that have previously passed under the radar, and make v80 a solid release for regular users and companies to enjoy seamlessly. Maybe this will be a chance for the team to reconsider their release plan and finally introduce a long-term support version every ten releases or so.

One thing that we’ll lose from this development is the security-oriented download blocking system that was going to take place gradually, from Chrome 81 until Chrome 86. Google was planning to introduce warnings and eventually blocks for downloads of executables, archives, non-safe documents, and media files. This process was scheduled to be concluded by the end of 2020, but it will now be postponed for later on.



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