• Chrome’s next weapon in the War on Ad Blockers: Slower extension updates

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    #2607797

    https://arstechnica.com/google/2023/12/chromes-next-weapon-in-the-war-on-ad-blockers-slower-extension-updates/

    When ad blocking is a cat-and-mouse game, make the mouse slower

    Google’s war on ad blockers is just gearing up, with YouTube doing its best to detect and block ad blockers and Chrome aiming to roll out the ad block-limiting Manifest V3 extension platform in June 2024. A new article from Engadget detailing the “arms race” over ad blocking brings up an interesting point regarding the power that YouTube and Chrome have in this battle: a dramatic update advantage over the ad blockers.

    In addition to hamstringing Chrome’s extension platform with no real user-centric justifications, Manifest V3 will also put roadblocks up before extension updates, which will delay an extension developer’s ability to quickly respond to changes. YouTube can instantly switch up its ad delivery system, but once Manifest V3 becomes mandatory, that won’t be true for extension developers. If ad blocking is a cat-and-mouse game of updates and counter-updates, then Google will force the mouse to slow down…

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    • #2607839

      There must be some tech billionaire out there who’s ticked off at Google and is willing, out of spite, to put money into creating a truly independent alternative to Chrome, even if it’s a money-loser. Chrome-derived “alternatives” are not it, and even Mozilla is heavily subsidized by Google.

      Now that could be an incontrovertible example of “effective altruism.”

       

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      • #2608278

        Mozilla does receive most of its funding through Google, but Google keeps them around to defend against the claims it is a monopolist, so they need each other. Mozilla does not have a reason to cripple adblockers like Google does, and to do so would go against everything Mozilla claims to be about.

        As long as Firefox keeps a small market share that does not challenge Chrome’s dominance in any way, Google is not likely to try to force Mozilla to adopt their adblock-killing policy. To do that would also look very bad for the purpose of using Firefox to claim they have a competitor. A competitor you control is no competitor at all, and Google is certainly aware that if they did that, it would almost certainly come out in court if they ever had to defend against an anti-competitive behavior charge from any given government.

        It is not likely that anyone is going to create another web rendering engine at this time, and without that, any given browser is just a front-end for another engine (usually based on Chromium). Microsoft and Opera retired their own engines in favor of Chromium’s Blink, so the trend is in the opposite direction.

        If any philanthropist wanted to contribute to a web not dominated by Google, it would not be necessary to create a new browser. Such a benefactor could simply fund Mozilla to make them less (or not) dependent on Google for their funding. It would take a lot of money, effort, and time to bring about a workable brand new rendering engine, and there’s already one around that fits the purpose of opposing Google dominance of the web quite well, except for a lack of non-Google funding.

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        • #2608352

          Firefox usage collapsed in the ‘Teens as the people in charge of the browser kept scr*wing around with the UI and rendering large numbers of add-ons/extensions useless. Widespread complaints from users were ignored. As far as I’m concerned, they dug their own grave.

          Now Firefox serves as “controlled opposition” to Google Chrome, in a similar fashion as the underling Polish People’s Party served during the Communist period to “show” that Poland wasn’t a one-party state.

          It doesn’t look to me that FF management has learned anything constructive from the long decline of their browser, deciding to become more responsive to users.

           

           

          • #2608507

            Firefox usage collapsed in the ‘Teens as the people in charge of the browser kept scr*wing around with the UI and rendering large numbers of add-ons/extensions useless. Widespread complaints from users were ignored. As far as I’m concerned, they dug their own grave.

            Certainly. They have repeatedly made incredibly boneheaded decisions, and it has cost them everything.

            When they were taking on Microsoft and IE, Mozilla was the plucky upstart, risen from the ashes of Netscape, the latest victim of Microsoft at that time. Mozilla dared to build a better browser, and that was the real goal, with market share only an abstract reflection of their success in doing so. They innovated at every turn, and the results were fantastic.

            I was part of the community back then, where people would throw ideas around and talk to developers (who were active participants in the same forums we fanatics used), and many of the neat features people thought up would be added, because each time it made Mozilla Browser, and later Firefox, into a better product.

            I introduced a bunch of people to Mozilla/Firefox in that era, and most agreed that it was far better than IE, and they switched. Not “just as good as IE,” but better.

            Mozilla never succeeded in getting to #1, but they did begin the momentum that would knock Microsoft off its throne. At their peak market share, Firefox was growing rapidly and IE’s market share was in freefall. It looked certain that Firefox would take the #1 spot, given the trends.

            And then Chrome hit the market and ate Mozilla’s lunch.

            At first, Chrome seemed like a fellow good guy in opposition to bad guy IE. Chrome was also standards compliant, which today all browsers are (though Google pushes the bounds of the standards sometimes). IE wasn’t, and that was a big deal then. Anything that was not IE was a good thing. Microsoft peaked at close to 95% market share, and anything that would reduce that was a good thing.

            From that point on, Firefox’s market share continued to fall, as did IE’s. Chrome was picking up all the users Mozilla and Microsoft lost. And at that moment, with its certain victory turned into another disappointing loss, it seemed that Mozilla lost its mojo.

            The Mozilla that dared to show the corporate giant what a good browser looked like was no more. The new “mopy” Mozilla began a years-long campaign of trying to get people to switch from Chrome by being more like Chrome. The inane idea was that by reducing the barriers to switching, people would naturally go for the browser that stood for privacy.

            The problem (or one of them, anyway) with that strategy was that most people really did not understand how much their privacy was at risk with Chrome, and those who did mostly didn’t care. When you are going to take on a product that is the de facto standard, the one that all others are compared against, you have to do something better. It is not good enough to be “as good as” the leader’s product, or even “as good as the leader’s product, and with a feature few cared about (meaning the privacy thing).” If you try to make your product a copy of someone else’s, it has to be cheaper… and browsers are free. No one wants to accept a “knock-off” of the original at the same price as “the real deal.”

            Mozilla went all the way down the rabbit hole of trying to be compatible with Chrome, as if they were thinking that if they reached a certain level of similarity to Chrome, the users would finally start coming. Mozilla abandoned its powerful XUL addon structure in favor of Chrome’s weaker webextensions model. It abandoned its own UI for a copy of Chrome’s. It began lopping off all kinds of features Chrome did not have, with that reason alone often being the sole justification for doing so. One could see the wheels turning inside Mozilla’s figurative head… “Chrome is the ideal browser for most people. We know what the ideal browser looks like. It’s Chrome. Let’s make our browser ideal!”

            Mozilla chose to go after the users that were least likely to move away from Chrome… that is, those users who really did think Chrome was an ideal browser. In doing so, it alienated all the users who wanted something different than Chrome. They gave up the users they had, and the users they reasonably could have had, while chasing those they could never have. And they did this for years and years, even as their market share dropped from 30% to less than 5%. And in this time, their CEO, Mitchell Baker, received massive raises, in the millions of dollars, for presiding over this catastrophe.

            Mozilla has blundered over and over.

            Before Baker was CEO, Brendan Eich was briefly in that role, but when people found out that years prior, he had donated a small amount of his own money to a political cause they did not like, they raised such a stink that Eich was forced to resign.

            Eich was one of the creators of Javascript, the language that powers the web. He’s the CEO of Brave today. To say he understands the web would be an understatement. To say he understands the mechanics of what a browser has to be would also be an understatement. Mozilla got rid of this talented individual because they did not like one of his political views (a view shared by Barack Obama and George W. Bush alike, at that time). I am not mentioning the view here, as the topic is Mozilla’s actions, not politics, but it was certainly a sign of where Mozilla’s priorities were.

            Needless to say, this loss of focus has not been helpful to Mozilla.

            Now Firefox serves as “controlled opposition” to Google Chrome, in a similar fashion as the underling Polish People’s Party served during the Communist period to “show” that Poland wasn’t a one-party state.

            They’re still the one that isn’t limiting ad blockers in any way, even though it harms Google’s bottom line. And if they had another funding source, they could be completely free of Google’s influence overnight. Mozilla and Firefox existed before Chrome, and was taking the battle to the corporate giant before Chrome was even a glint in Google’s eye.

            I don’t think they are controlled opposition as much as they are incompetently led. They have pursued the strategy of reducing the difficulty of migrating away from Chrome for years, long after it should have been obvious that it does not work. Had they thought more about browsers and less about ensuring the political purity of their CEO, their logo, and their UI, they might have stopped the backslide.

            Rven with that said, Mozilla is still the only remaining non-corporate browser out there, with adblocking fully intact, and with addons that harm Google’s bottom line being readily available on their addon store. If you go to Chrome’s addon store, you can download addons that will save streamed videos from any site you want, except Youtube, because Google won’t allow it. Any addons that get in the way of Google can be, and demonstrably will eventually be, removed, and if that’s not enough, Google can and will modify Chrome so that it will no longer accept addons that will do the thing Google doesn’t want them to do.

            Mozilla also produces the only browser for PCs that I consider truly usable, though I use an even better version of it, Waterfox. Waterfox would not exist without Firefox, and Waterfox is pretty much my ideal browser.  I have yet to find a Chromium-based browser that I can use for more than a few minutes before being overcome with that same sick feeling I get when I use Windows. Even Vivaldi, which is by far my favorite Chromium-based browser, does not work for me. It’s close, but not there yet.

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    • #2608307

      When ad blocking is a cat-and-mouse game, make the mouse slower

      Or just use a different “mouse”.  Go to https://duckduckgo.com/  It’s my default search engine, and my homepage for Firefox.  I don’t use Google, other than for a handful of email addresses for sites that want a sign-in email address.  I never check the email, except for right before the “purge” of dead gmail accounts, to make them persist.

      DDG-Browser-Download

      Click on the download link.

      DuckDuckGo

      Some YouTubers block non-YouTube players, such as NFL content, but very few.  DuckDuckGo Browser is my GoTo for YouTube.

      Always create a fresh drive image before making system changes/Windows updates; you may need to start over!
      We were all once "Average Users". We all have our own reasons for doing the things that we do with our systems, we don't need anyone's approval, and we don't all have to do the same things.

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      • #2608315

        I use Chrome and haven’t seen so far any ads on Youtube.

        • #2608322

          I use Chrome and haven’t seen so far any ads on Youtube.

          Although I do use an Android phone (Samsung) I also use the DuckDuckGo Browser on my phone. I don’t use anything Google, Chrome or Chromium.  And I don’t see any ads.

          Always create a fresh drive image before making system changes/Windows updates; you may need to start over!
          We were all once "Average Users". We all have our own reasons for doing the things that we do with our systems, we don't need anyone's approval, and we don't all have to do the same things.

    • #2619110

      Mozilla abandoned its powerful XUL addon structure in favor of Chrome’s weaker webextensions model. It abandoned its own UI for a copy of Chrome’s. It began lopping off all kinds of features Chrome did not have, with that reason alone often being the sole justification for doing so.

      Which is why I use Pale Moon, still Xul enabled.

      🍻

      Just because you don't know where you are going doesn't mean any road will get you there.
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