Amid the COVID-19 crisis and growing security risk, Google has made a powerful move to pause all Chrome releases until further notice.
It is hoping that by pulling back on new releases, it will allow Google’s reduced and remote workforce to focus on the most important aspect to protect users–security.
In an update on March 18, Google said: “Due to adjusted work schedules at this time, we are pausing upcoming Chrome and Chrome OS releases. Our primary objectives are to ensure they continue to be stable, secure, and work reliably for anyone who depends on them.”
Google confirmed that it will “continue to prioritize any updates related to security,” which will be included in Chrome 80.
You should follow its blog (or my page) for further updates.
What does the Google Chrome move mean for me?
The move comes as Chrome 81 for desktops and Android was supposed to start rolling out on March 17, including the wider release of features such as Tab Groups to improve usability.
The situation is certainly not ideal, and it does mean you won’t get any new Chrome features for a while–at least until things calm down enough for the workforce to start to return to the office. This could take months, or longer.
As users start to take more control of their data, some new Chrome features could be focused on security and privacy, so you will certainly lose out on those for the time being.
It could negatively impact security if fixes are not made to any issues identified, warns security researcher Sean Wright.
But it could also be seen as a sensible move by Google to try and protect its users from danger as an increasing number work from home, with some important business applications utilizing the Chrome browser.
Wright says: “This will likely only really affect users from a feature perspective. While not ideal, it is understandable. The main thing for users is that any security issues are addressed, which I hope Google would still be on top of.”
Now more than ever, Google must address issues quickly
Hackers are increasingly targeting the workforce being sent home across the world due to coronavirus. There are certainly a lot of problems with Google’s Chrome, which has already led some users to switch to Firefox.
But sometimes, especially when using a browser for work, it’s not a choice. It is hugely important that Google keeps on top of security updates, and addresses any issues quickly, so that people can continue to use Chrome without worry.