Fast forward: What’s coming in future versions of Chrome?


Chrome looms over the browser landscape like a leviathan.

With more than 70% of the world’s browser user share – a measure of browser activity calculated by analytics company Net Applications – Google’s Chrome has crushed the competition. Rivals, from Microsoft’s Edge to Mozilla’s Firefox, survive on single-digit shares that seem liable to evaporate on short notice.

So, it’s no surprise that when Chrome moves, others feel the tremors. With each upgrade – something Computerworld tracks in the What’s in the latest Chrome update? series – and every time Google talks of future plans, opponents pay attention to hear what they may have to copy to stay competitive.

Every Chrome upgrade is accompanied by enterprise-centric release notes that highlight some of the additions, substitutions, enhancements and modifications slated for the future. We’ve collected the most important for this refresh of Computerworld‘s latest what’s-coming round-up.

But nothing is guaranteed, least of all software’s prospective features. As Google says: “They might be changed, delayed, or canceled before launching to the Stable channel.”

Chrome 86: Legacy Browser Support gets the hook

Google will pull the Legacy Browser Support (LBS) add-on from copies of Chrome 86 on which it’s installed.

LBS, now baked into Chrome, was designed so IT admins could deploy Google’s browser but still call up Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) when necessary to render intranet sites or written-for-IE apps. The add-on debuted in 2013, when Chrome’s share of 18% lagged far behind IE’s still-dominant 58%.

After integrating LBS into Chrome, Google decided the add-on was unnecessary and began a several-step process to eradicate the extension. After Chrome 85’s release on Aug. 25, for example, Google was to have removed it from the Chrome Web Store. (Google hasn’t done that yet, although the label “DEPRECATED” looms large on the add-on’s page.)

Chrome 86: More messing with the URL

Google plans to truncate what shows in the address bar starting with Chrome 86. Only some users will see the change at version 86’s debut, Google said, adding that “a full roll-out ((is)) planned for a later release.”

Under the scheme, a full URL like https://google-secure.example.com/secure-google-sign-in/ would show only as the registrable domain, example.com in the address bar.

Google argued that the move is “to protect your users from some common phishing strategies,” such as when criminals try to trick potential victims into clicking on links that at first glance look legitimate, but which are actually made to mislead. “This change is designed to keep your users’ credentials safe,” Google stated.

This will not be the first time that Google has tried to shorten what shows in the Chrome address bar. At several points in the past – most recently, in 2018 with Chrome 69 and Chrome 70 – Google has contended that stripping out parts of a URL, say the www, is a move worth making. Critics have blasted such proposals, saying that it eliminated cues some users relied on to sniff out deceptive sites.



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