1. 14
  1.  

  2. 24

    In other words, “Let’s all use Chromium but somehow Google isn’t in charge”. Controlling the web platform is power, and Google isn’t going to just hand over the keys to its biggest rivals. Heck, Blink was forked from Webkit in the first place because Google and Apple couldn’t see eye to eye.

    The assumption that if enough non-Google developers start working on Chromium that somehow they can outvote Google is also flawed since having everyone on Chromium gives Google more power, not less. At least now there is an alternative that browsers like Brave/Vivaldi could theoretically switch to (given that Mozilla is finally starting to prioritize Gecko embedding). If this proposal comes to pass the last check on Google’s power will be gone, and if they say “get bent” there will be nothing anyone can do about it.

    While it might be tempting to think that Microsoft will be able to wrest some control of Chromium away, the reality is that they made the switch out of desperation not desire. They have lost all their chips at the table and from now on will only be able to push the web in directions that Google agrees with.

    1. 10

      Yeah, if you needed any more reasons about how this is a terrible idea you have no further to look than Google’s lockdown of their DRM components to prevent competition from another OSS browser: https://boingboing.net/2019/05/29/hoarding-software-freedom.html

      1. 1

        How do you feel about, say, https://iridiumbrowser.de/ ?

        1. 7

          It’s still fundamentally chromium though, isn’t it? They may have “stripped out the functionality which exposes data to others in a way [they] don‘t like”, but in all likelihood the project will continue to merge changes from chromium that are interesting, useful, and or necessary. Iriduimbrowser isn’t going to, for example and the sake of this discussion, write their own http3/quic implementation, right? By building on the chromium project they are still going in whatever direction that Google mandates only they’re stripping out privacy-oriented bits that they’ve deemed naughty. It looks like an interesting project, I like the transparency, and it looks like something I’d personally choose over chrome/chromium. However, the project as a whole, being a chromium derivative, remains entirely dependent on Google now and going forward.

      2. 9

        At one point IE was just as dominant as Chrome is today, and it got displaced. A lot of people seem unable to imagine how Chrome could be displaced today, but that can happen pretty rapidly. For example, Google restricting ad blockers on Chrome will almost certainly drive Firefox market share up.

        However, the only reason this is possible is because we have web standards that are independent of a single browser and vendor. If we end up abandoning the standards entirely in favor of just using Chromium, then it’s game over for open web.

        Throwing in the towel and making everything Chromium based would be the worst possible scenario because it gives Google an insane amount of control over the future of the web. And the fact that Chromium is open source doesn’t really make a bit of difference here.

        The reality is that it takes a huge amount of effort to maintain it. It would require an organization like Mozilla to fork it from Google and take it in a new direction. Since we already have Mozilla and Firefox now, it’s much better to make sure they continue to exist.

        1. 20

          It took many years, and a lot of grassroots campaigning and technical effort to displace IE. And IE was a relatively “easy” target: old, slow, missing important user-visible features, and was a proprietary software made by a widely disliked corporation.

          Chrome is much harder. It is a good product. It’s fast and featureful enough for an average user that anything more sounds like an unwanted complication. Google is still liked, or at least respected for its technical abilities. Chrome has top-notch dev tools, and isn’t considered closed-source (although strictly speaking it is) so geeks don’t feel a need to switch either.

          Health of the web standards, interoperability and control of the web’s future are very important issues, but they’re not immediate issues for users and developers. “Your browser is slow and insecure” was a much easier sell than “Your browser gives too much power to a single corporation, and that may backfire eventually”.

          1. 14

            Come to think of it, I didn’t originally switch to firefox to fight the dominance of IE6. I switched because it had tabs.

            1. 1

              Right, displacing Chrome is going to be tricky. I’m hoping that enough web developers actually care about having web standards though. Ultimately, what really matters is that people building web sites care about this issue.

            2. 4

              At one point IE was just as dominant as Chrome is today, and it got displaced.

              Sort of. There was also that case that help facilitate the competition displacing it. Doing the same against Google might be harder given their search and browser are “free” for customers. There’s more opportunity to hit them in Android space, though.

            3. 3

              I wish Mozilla wasn’t so hostile to other browsers. It would be nice if Edge, Opera, Brave, etc had a choice other than Chromium.

              1. 3

                Edge had a choice: their own rendering engine.

                They chose to give that up because their engine would tank in performance when Youtube made changes.

                1. 2

                  Firefox doesn’t have this problem on YouTube?

              2. 1

                Just goes to show you…any article that needs emoji to get its point across isn’t worth reading.