Google in a somewhat surprising move announced that they will discontinue development of the Google Toolbar for the Firefox web browser.
Taking effect immediately, the company notes that the Google Toolbar will not be supported on Firefox 5 and future versions. The change has no effect on the current toolbar offered for the browser which works on all versions of the browser up to Firefox 4.
The official reason for discontinuing Google Toolbar development on Firefox is that many features that the toolbar offered are now part of the browser. That's a lukewarm explanation at best, considering that there are still many features offered by the toolbar that are not part of the Firefox browser.
Among those features are the translator option, Google Bookmarks integration or Side Wiki support.
Sure, most of those features can be integrated via add-ons in the Firefox browser, but that is not what the short Google news announcement said.
First of all, we'd like to thank all of our loyal users of Google Toolbar for Firefox. We deeply appreciate all of the feedback over the years that helped to make the product so useful. As we all know, over the past few years, there has been a tremendous amount of innovation in the browser space. For Firefox users, many features that were once offered by Google Toolbar for Firefox are now already built right into the browser. Therefore, while Google Toolbar for Firefox works on versions up to and including Firefox 4 only, it will not be supported on Firefox 5 and future versions. Please see our Help Center for additional details.
What could be the underlying reason for discontinuing support? The only browser still supported is Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Even the company's own browser Google Chrome is not supported.
Could Google have plans to retire the toolbar completely? It certainly looks that way, unless the company decides to publish a Google Chrome version of the toolbar later this year.
Interestingly enough, Google has posted add-on suggestions for Firefox users who relied on the Google Toolbar in the past.
The support page lists the individual features of the toolbar and links to add-ons that replicate them.
Firefox users who until now worked with the Google Toolbar should visit the page once they update the browser to version 5 or later to install the features they need this way.
To be precise: Google is linking to Firefox add-on search results and not single add-ons for the task.
Have you been working with the Google Toolbar under Firefox? Why do you think Google stopped supporting the toolbar? (via)
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