Google Chrome version 33 aims to protect Windows users from potentially malicious extensions by blocking any that are not installed through the Chrome Web Store.
Until now, you could install Chrome extensions from anywhere, and developers could bundle them with software you installed. Chrome is supposed to ask you if you are sure anytime you install an extension, but malicious developers managed to get around this and install extensions ‘silently’ without user consent. From Chrome 33, all extensions will have to be hosted in the Chrome Web Store, for the security of Chrome users.
In addition, if you update to version 33 and have any extensions installed from outside the Chrome Web Store, that have not since been added to it, they will be ‘hard-disabled’ meaning you cannot re-enable them manually. There are two exceptions – installs through the ‘enterprise policy’ or ‘developer mode’ will still be allowed. These exceptions will not affect many users, however, just companies and developers.
This change is being presented as a security measure. Just like Apple and iOS, Google is learning that you can create a safer eco system for users if you give them less freedom. It’s important for the future of Chrome that users feel safe using it, and eliminating the threat of malicious extensions will help achieve that.