Google started to implement features into the Chrome web browser that improve the security for users of the browser. From basic things that do not change how you use Chrome, like the new permission confirmation dialog when you install extensions on the Chrome Web Store, to major changes like the blocking of third-party extension installations that will affect a large part of Chrome Stable and Beta users on Windows.
The feature, announced last year, prevents Chrome Stable and Beta users from installing extensions that do not originate from the Chrome Web Store.
What this means is that these users won't be able to install extensions that have not been uploaded by the developer to the store. It does not necessarily mean that the extension needs to be listed in store, as developers can opt out of that.
The change will come with Chrome 33, which is expected to hit the stable version of Chrome at the end of February.
There are two issues here that need to be addresses
First, some extensions cannot be uploaded to the Chrome web store as they violate Google's policy in one way or the other. This includes downloaders for Google's video hosting service YouTube, or extensions that let you watch TV and movies on Netflix or Hulu.
The two restrictions that will affect users the most -- likely -- are extensions that allow you to bypass restrictions on websites to access contents, and extensions to access, download or stream copyrighted content or media.
Google notes that these extensions can still be offered to Chrome Dev and Canary users on Windows, and to all Chrome users on Linux or Mac systems.
Second, it also means that Chrome Stable or Beta users on Windows may notice that some of their extensions will be "hard-disabled" by Google when their browser hits version 33.
When that happens, a "Suspicious extensions disabled" notification is displayed to you that informs you about it. The problem here is that you cannot enable the extension again, as the option to do so is grayed out.
Suspicious extensions disabled
To make Chrome safer, we disabled some extensions that aren't listed in the Chrome Web Store and may have been added without your knowledge.
While it is not clear how many Chrome users will be affected by the change, it is certain that some will receive the message and have extensions hard-disabled by the company.
There are several solutions on how affected users can deal with the issue. The fastest one is to switch from Chrome Stable or Beta to Chrome Canary or Dev instead, as the two versions of the browser are not affected by the restriction. Another option would be to move to Opera, as it can load most Chrome extensions as well, or to Chromium.
That's not always possible though, depending on where Chrome is being used and whether you own the system or are simply using it.
The second option requires you to do the following:
- Download the latest version of the third-party Chrome extension that you want to install. These add-ons have the file extension crx, which makes them easily recognizable.
- Use a program such as 7-Zip to extract the contents of the file to your system.
- Open the extensions manager in Chrome by loading this page: chrome://extensions/
- Check the Developer Mode box at the top of the screen.
- Select Load unpacked extensions from the button bar that appears.
- Use the folder browser to pick the directory you have extracted the contents of the extension to.
- The extension will be installed and won't be disabled by Google even if you run Beta or Stable versions of the browser on Windows.
The new security measures in Chrome will affect Chrome users. It is not clear how many will be affected by the change, only that some will.
Considering that extensions such as Media Hint or Internet Download Managers are quite popular, it is likely that the change will result in an increase in support requests.
Some users will search the web and hopefully find this article that helps them get around the issue, while others may give up in frustration instead.