back to article Google reveals new schedule for 'phasing out support for Chrome Apps across all operating systems'

Google has rolled out a new schedule for ending support for Chrome Apps – packaged desktop applications built with HTML, CSS and JavaScript – in favour of Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) and other browser-based approaches such as Chrome Extensions. The plans to cease supporting Chrome Apps are not new: In August 2016 the company …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    So, Google is pulling a Microsoft ?

    Putting in place a form of technology, then pulling the rug out from under everyone who put effort into it a few scant years later.

    The only difference is that it's Google, perpetually in beta. Microsoft does that with products that are supposed to be long-term, drumming up support via expensive marketing and endless hype, right up to the day it decides that nah, it's done with this crap and moving on. Just the same, tens of thousands of enthusiasts of that tech are left bereft, drifting in the Sea Of Abandoned Ideas.

    Kinda makes you think about sticking to things that last longer than a CEO's attention span, doesn't it ?

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: So, Google is pulling a Microsoft ?

      Sounds like Google pulling a Google!

      1. TVU Silver badge

        Re: So, Google is pulling a Microsoft ?

        "Sounds like Google pulling a Google!"

        Indeed, they are the Kings of Deprecation now and they have left a very long trail of abandoned projects behind them, some of which were quite good such as Picasa.

        1. Dinanziame Bronze badge

          Re: So, Google is pulling a Microsoft ?

          Didn't they just rename it Google Photos?

          1. Tigra 07 Silver badge

            Re: So, Google is pulling a Microsoft ?

            Kinda. The desktop program was brilliant, but was abandoned, while the website was rolled into Google+, renamed Google Photos, then separated from Google+, and next year it will probably be called something else.

            1. geekguy

              Re: So, Google is pulling a Microsoft ?

              Still using the desktop picasa years later, there is no replacement for it unless you really think lightroom is. Picasa was brilliant at organing your photos, I didn't much care for the online bit of it. I quite like google photos ironically, its a shame it (the desktop app) wasn't opened up so the community could develop it, but maybe that wasn't possible.

        2. John Lilburne

          Re: So, Google is pulling a Microsoft ?

          "...such as Picasa."

          Like most things Google it was a bought in thing from Lifescape. At one point integrated into Flickr. Like much of web stuff if you included it as part of your workflow you were sold a pup. Still available as a freeware standalone thing, But as an integrated cloud based editor ...

      2. fidodogbreath Silver badge

        Re: So, Google is pulling a Microsoft ?

        Sounds like Google pulling a Google!

        Ars Technica keeps a handy running tally.

        1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: So, Google is pulling a Microsoft ?

          Brilliant link, cheers! I note hangouts is going.. More fool me for using it to finally get my old mum online... The replacement won't be a google product, that's for sure!

        2. Vizesnyolcas

          Re: So, Google is pulling a Microsoft ?

          The Google Graveyard, though still incomplete, is more comprehensive: https://killedbygoogle.com/

        3. AK565

          Re: So, Google is pulling a Microsoft ?

          Several times in recent years I've toyed with the idea of moving everything to Google and a Chromebook. But each time I researched I seemed to get a totally different picture of what I had to do. Now I realize I wasn't confused; it really was different each time because Google kept changing. Thanks!

        4. Dabooka
          Pint

          Re: So, Google is pulling a Microsoft ?

          Great link that

    2. katrinab Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: So, Google is pulling a Microsoft ?

      Google is way worse than Microsoft in this respect.

      There are some programs compiled for 32 bit MS platforms in the 1990s that still run today. Not all of them of course, but Microsoft's track record in this regard is better than a lot of people. Google's graveyard is far bigger than anyone else's.

      1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: So, Google is pulling a Microsoft ?

        What about Windows Phone Apps?

        1. Mark #255
          Joke

          Re: So, Google is pulling a Microsoft ?

          Both users are absolutely livid about the entire episode.

          1. K.o.R
            Windows

            Re: So, Google is pulling a Microsoft?

            Damn right we are!

            1. Bump in the night
              Unhappy

              Re: So, Google is pulling a Microsoft?

              Me either!

      2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

        1. Irongut Silver badge

          Re: So, Google is pulling a Microsoft ?

          Name an MS operating system released this century that .Net and Windows Forms apps don't run on.

          (Hint: There isn't one.)

          UWP has only existed since Win10 and... still runs on Win10.

          I have apps I wrote years ago which have never been upgraded that run perfectly on the OS they were designed for and even work on Win10 with few issues. So what was your point? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

          If you'd mentioned Silverlight you'd have had a point but even that had a longer run than most Google products.

          1. Def Silver badge

            Re: So, Google is pulling a Microsoft ?

            I have apps I wrote years ago which have never been upgraded that run perfectly on the OS they were designed for and even work on Win10 with few issues.

            I have one windows 2000 era application (not mine, just one I still prefer to use) that runs better on Windows 10 than it ever did on Windows 7.

      3. Nolveys
        Windows

        Re: So, Google is pulling a Microsoft ?

        Win32/Winapi may be a hateful bag of festering bile, but at least it was a mostly stationary target for the better part of 25 years.

        Learning a platform and, in particular, developing in it is expensive. If I'm making that investment I expect to be able to enjoy the fruits of my labour long term, preferably indefinitely.

        So how long before this Fugu thing is on the chopping block? Will we get a whole seven years out of it before it's decided that we have to throw hundreds or thousands of hours of our time away just to get what we already had?

        I have very little interest in any of the new development platforms/apis/whatevers coming of either MS or Google. I'd rather have old, clunky and will work tomorrow over new, shiny and up the creek.

    3. LDS Silver badge

      Re: So, Google is pulling a Microsoft ?

      Microsoft may deprecate a technology and replace it with a new shiny-shiny one which will become deprecated again in a few years, but rarely removes the underlying platform wholly.

      For the matter, IIS 10 still supports asp applications (remember them?), even if the support is not enabled by default. IE11 still supported ActiceX controls (with all the issues it brings, of course).

      That is what an enterprise-oriented company does - even if I don't know how long MS will kept this stance now that wants everybody in Azure.

      Google on the other end is mostly a consumer (or better, it consumes people data, really) focused one (but for its ads selling branch, of course), so removing the whole platform if it sees a cost benefits is a no-brainer.

    4. ratfox Silver badge
      Angel

      Re: So, Google is pulling a Microsoft ?

      Microsoft generally wants you to buy the next shiny, which is why they kill off the old one.

      The problem of Google is that by fear of missing out on potential opportunities, they create hundreds of projects, even though they cannot possibly maintain them all. Inevitably, that means they must kill off the ones that are unsuccessful. And by unsuccessful, they mean less than 100 million users.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: So, Google is pulling a Microsoft ?

        I don't think Google generally kill off projects because they're unsuccessful; I think it's because they reach the point of diminishing returns in harvesting user data.

    5. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: So, Google is pulling a Microsoft ?

      Reworking a Chrome App into a PWA is mainly about packaging and, to be fair, Google is only depreacting a proprietary format because it supports an open one.

      I don't know about you, but I only ever used one Chrome App, and that was to see what the fuss was about. It's pretty much the same story with Web Assembly replacing NaCl.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: So, Google is pulling a Microsoft ?

        Personally, I never used any Chrome Apps, because I had no interest in seeing what the fuss was about. (Actually, I never noticed any fuss, even among developers.)

        And I wouldn't have touched NaCl with a 10-foot pole.

        WebAssembly is somewhat better, or at least less bad. The formal model it's based on eliminates a number of fundamental error sources. For example, it has no low-level branching, just loop op-codes, so it's impossible to create a verifiable WebAssembly program that branches to an invalid address (e.g. into the middle of an instruction). And it doesn't have threading, which is a big plus. This is a good paper.

        That said, I don't foresee any reason why I'd ever want to enable WebAssembly in the browsers on my personal machines, and I'll only do it on my work machines if it's required for my job. And even then I'll do it in a segregated browser instance.

  2. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    Codenamed Fugu?

    As in the fish that is expensive, and if not handled VERY carefully by a skilled, specially trained chef, poisons the customer?

    Not the code name I would choose for something supposed to make life easier for devs rolling out apps intended for the masses.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Codenamed Fugu?

      That's not a fish, it's an acronym.

      I think it's pretty obvious what it stands for.

      1. katrinab Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Codenamed Fugu?

        Fu** Gu[ggle]?

    2. K.o.R

      Re: Codenamed Fugu?

      "Poison... poison... tasty fish!"

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Codenamed Fugu?

        Yes, though of course that script exaggerates. By most reports (see e.g. Poundstone's The Ultimate), it's not very tasty. People just eat it to show off.

    3. chivo243 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Codenamed Fugu?

      As in the fish that is expensive, and if not handled VERY carefully by a skilled, specially trained chef, poisons the customer?

      Fugu me!

      Someone in the Gdevs has a wry sense of humor!

  3. heyrick Silver badge

    and giving users an inferior experience when compared to a native desktop application

    I don't think Google is in any position to comment on this sort of thing.

    Have you tried Google Docs? The web version is astonishing, like a proper mini word processor running in the browser. You can define styles, set up character sequences to be replaced with others (like (c) becoming ©), and you can sort out headers and footers with sections for per-chapter content, blah blah blah.

    The native app, that you would expect to blow the browser version out of the water...is decidedly inferior. Indeed it took numerous updates over last summer to fix the problem where copy-pasting content with a section break would crash it!

    So, what was this about browser vs native app?

    1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: and giving users an inferior experience when compared to a native desktop application

      Browser-based apps can only be astonishing if the client has connectivity to the web server. Don't overlook how many people work in places where connectivity is patchy or non-existent. I've managed to be quite productive on a long train journey by working with local files using local applications...something that just wouldn't have been possible is relying on mobile comms (despite what LNER / Virgin / whoever might imply in their advertisements, their onboard wifi is generally pretty s**t, and I don't trust any of the mobile phone providers to give me a data service I can rely on when I'm on the move).

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: and giving users an inferior experience when compared to a native desktop application

        Browser-based apps can only be astonishing if you're easily astonished. FTFY.

        I've never seen a browser-based application that I'd consider anywhere close to "astonishing". I might allow "mildly impressive". And, yes, I've used Google Docs.

    2. RyokuMas Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: and giving users an inferior experience when compared to a native desktop application

      "The native app, that you would expect to blow the browser version out of the water..."

      Not really, given that Google's primary business is all about the web. Google want us all using apps in the browser - in their ideal world, apps in the browser would be the norm, and the desktop OS would become a mere platform for launching you browser.

      What you need to keep in mind is that Google Analytics is the de facto choice for monitoring how users use websites (about 75% of websites implement it), regardless of the nature of these sites. So if you drink the Google kool-aid and use browser-based apps as much as you can, there's a very good chance that Google will be gathering data from you, irrespective of the app's purpose or who provides it.

      Whereas, if that same application is on the desktop, the chances are that Google is not getting that data. So it's in Google's interest to propagate the ideology of "browser good, desktop bad".

      1. John Lilburne

        Re: and giving users an inferior experience when compared to a native desktop application

        Anyone with any sense will block Google Analytics with whatever browser based blocking kit they prefer.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: and giving users an inferior experience when compared to a native desktop application

          "Anyone with any sense will block Go ogle with whatever blocking kit they prefer."

          FTFY

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: and giving users an inferior experience when compared to a native desktop application

            "Anyone with any sense will block Go ogle with whatever blocking kit they prefer."

            Yes, but.....

            I don't use Google for anything, but I do check stuff there if I need to know how a web site being ranked. It's too big of a gorilla to ignore. When I'm searching for stuff, I use DuckDuckGo, Mojeek or Dogpile. Yes, Dogpile accesses Google. I'm just hoping that they aren't ratting out my IP addy when they do.

            My Hosts file of looped address is getting massive. I can type 127.0.0.0 so fast I strike sparks.

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: and giving users an inferior experience when compared to a native desktop application

      Text documents are really pretty easy to do in an SGML/XML environment because the number of nodes is limited. Spreadsheets are a real nightmare.

      The "native" apps are probably nothing more than wrapped web-views and will remain shit until web assembly becomes a standard compile target.

  4. P.B. Lecavalier
    Devil

    Typical Web Development

    Big change! Rewrite everything! In other words, the usual state of affair in that domain. I believe that web development is a leading bullshit job generator in the IT world (bullshit jobs: read this for a starter).

    20 years ago, in web development, perl was a big thing. 10 years later perl was quite gone from web development. Now ruby is not looking so bright and it gets (along with python) tough competition from weirdos who believe in JavaScript as a server-side language. And that's just languages, don't get me started on frameworks, with a new one every five minutes. You start to learn a brand new one that seems to have a promising future? By the time you are becoming proficient, it's already deemed "old school, nobody should use that anymore" or got so many changes all of a sudden you need to relearn from scratch. Add to this so many organizations that reinvent their website for no reason, and is often a clear regression from before (harder to access information, though perhaps intentionally). Dilbert on this. It seems nobody is learning from amazon: A rare case of a website that certainly changed, but very slowly, incrementally, and usually with actual feature improvements that I agree with as a user. Pointless design changes? Can't recall any.

    20 years ago, the top free GUI development frameworks were GTK and Qt. Today? GTK and Qt. How boring for PHBs! Of course those frameworks evolved, but much of the skillset remains valid.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Typical Web Development

      "20 years ago, in web development, perl was a big thing. 10 years later perl was quite gone from web development."

      Actually, perl is still in use for Web development. Mainstream stuff, even. I certainly have no intention on giving up on perl any time soon. But don't take my word for it, ask El Reg.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Typical Web Development

        I think you'll find craigslist uses perl an awful lot

      2. P.B. Lecavalier
        Happy

        Re: Typical Web Development

        I'm just saying that it is no longer given serious consideration anymore by crass ignorants who all too often call the shots on projects. It's always nice to hear about people and projects who don't bandwagon on wheel reinvention.

  5. hellwig

    Google trying to replace the OS with Chrome? Where have I heard that before?

    Seriously, why would you install Windows or Linux or MacOS, just to then install Chrome so you can actually run your applications? Chrome OS is a thing already. If I installed Windows, I wanted to run Windows. I want Windows applications. It might be easier on the developer, but as a user, I don't give a damn.

    The very idea of a web API having access to my local file system is absurd. Right now, if I want an application on my machine, I have to seek it out, install it, and run it. Imagine a future where I could accidentally browse to any number of applications on the internet, with no need to install anything. Oh sure, Google will ensure compliance through their app signing and permissions system, but now the world's software developers are beholden to Google and its whims.

    It's much less:

    "...avoids the fragmentation of the web," says the Chromium team.

    and much more:

    "avoids pesky developer and user choice, when said choice may lead them away from Google product", says Alphabet board of directors, probably

  6. imanidiot Silver badge

    Google pulls support for something they touted as the next best thing after sliced bread. Quelle surprise...

  7. jake Silver badge

    Some of us never phased in go ogle in the first place.

    It's been an obvious slow-motion wreck right from the git-go.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Web, Cloud........Privacy?

    Just wondering how long it will take for the "average user" to figure out that the Web-based app (or Cloud-based service) is a synonym for "no privacy"?

    *

    And another commentator here points out that good internet access is an absolute necessity for all this Web/Cloud application nonsense. As I speak, a speed test shows 0.56 MBits/sec as the download speed. I'm getting very poor performance from an email client. Surprise! I wonder how the typical Web/Cloud app would perform.

    *

    So....no privacy....poor performance on poor internet connections....why should the "average user" put up with this crap?

    1. Louis Schreurs Bronze badge

      because

      I want an iPhone !!

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DaxU0ut5tUw

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Web, Cloud........Privacy?...and Google Just Updating Chrome....

      ....and crashing THOUSANDS of business users WITHOUT ANY WARNING:

      - https://www.theverge.com/2019/11/15/20966237/google-chrome-white-tab-screen-crash-experiment-it-admins

      *

      What was that about "how wonderful the Web is -- compared with in-house services"?

      *

      Yup....wonderful that people are flocking to use "the cloud"....not only can Google, Microsoft and Amazon represent a huge privacy risk.....but Google can manipulate the software you are using without any warning....and the user takes the hit...Google has no responsibility for the losses.

      *

      Yup....the future is here....and it sucks!!

  9. Mike 137 Silver badge

    "We control tne horizontal, we control the vertical..."

    "Google's web capabilities project ... is an effort to add APIs such as native file system access..."

    So we will no longer have any control at all over our computing devices or over access to our files?

    All these vendors want to [a] snoop on everything we do and everything we save and [b] regularly extort us for using our kit and processing our files, backed by the threat of losing the lot if we don't pay up on time.

    Added to which, many of the "cloud" offerings are, shall we say politely, not well designed. For example, I've just been helping a guy recover a massive and very important photo archive from OneDrive. It insists on zipping every download so each folder of photos at camera resolution resulted in at least a 4GB zip file. After almost four hours to download, one of these was a complete write-off as we lost the link a couple of seconds before it finished, rendering the zip file unusable.

    If zip could optionally be turned off (apparently it can't) the problem would not exist as only one photo would have been lost in case of link failure. In any case JPG files hardly reduce in size when zipped so it's pointless. But of course the "service" provider knows best every time, even if their decisions cause you problems.

    If I were cynical I might conclude they don't really want you to recover your stuff, as that would reduce the need to keep forking out.

  10. my cats breath smells like cat food

    meh

    meh

  11. BuckeyeB

    What's in an App ?

    What Chrome Apps are we talking about? Are these third party apps or are they referring to ending Google Sheets and Google Docs, et al?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hoarding Data Slurping

    The whole point of this to me is an attempt by Google to shut down standards based web coding infrastructure and replace it with proprietary locked down code only they have the key to. The real money in not the advertising dollars per se, but the giga-mountain range of data Google has slurped and continues to slurp that directs when and where adds get sold and placed.

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