Google recently announced that it would be halting support for the Google Toolbar on Mozilla Firefox. While Google and Mozilla have long been allies, this move makes some question whether Google is trying to shuffle Firefox users onto its own browser.
Google's Decision to Halt GTB Support
Google Toolbar (GTB) has been a popular addition to Firefox since the early days of Mozilla's browser. With tools like in-site search, easy access to bookmarks, bookmark sharing, instant page translation, and more, GTB has become a normal part of the browsing experience for many Firefox users. So when Google made the announcement that GTB wouldn't be supported in Firefox 5 and beyond, users were far from happy.
Google's official statement was very matter-of-fact: "While Google Toolbar for Firefox works on versions up to and including Firefox 4 only, it will not be supported on Firefox 5 and future versions." Commenters, however, quickly flew into a rage.
Some called for a Google boycott, others accused Google of breaking its "don't be evil" motto, and others accused Google of lying to its users. The apparent cause of this volatile response? The GTB users felt that Google was stopping support solely to siphon Firefox users into the Chrome browser.
Google's motives may be tinted by the desire to get more support in Chrome, but that's certainly not their only reason here. Google has been shutting off support for a wide variety of internal projects, including over a dozen APIs, Google Health, Google PowerMeter, and Google Labs.
Clearly, Google is focusing in, and halting support for a product that helps a competing browser just makes sense. Plus, as the official statement indicated, "Many features that were once offered by Google Toolbar for Firefox are now already built right into the browswer [sic]."
Continuing the GTB Legacy
It's entirely possible that the features of GTB will be molded into an add-on that's maintained by a third party. A large number of GTB users showed strong support for the idea of Google releasing the GTB code as open source, thus allowing a third party to more easily create and maintain the tools for future Firefox users.
Google Operating System also has a solution: Enable the old version of GTB in the new version of Firefox. Download the Add-on Compatibility Reporter for Firefox. This add-on lets you continue to use outdated add-ons, including old versions of GTB.
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