from the lynx++ dept.
Despite sharing a common Chromium codebase, browser makers like Brave, Opera, and Vivaldi don't have plans on crippling support for ad blocker extensions in their products -- as Google is currently planning on doing within Chrome.
The three browsers makers have confirmed to ZDNet, or in public comments, of not intending to support a change to the extensions system that Google plans to add to Chromium, the open-source browser project on which Chrome, Brave, Opera, and Vivaldi are all based on.
A few hours after reading about Brave, Opera, and Vivaldi breaking with Google blocking ad-blockers, I find this story -
Firefox may introduce a paid version in order to reduce its reliance on Google revenue
Mozilla, the maker of open source browser Firefox, is by no means strapped for cash; although the said browser is offered free of charge, the foundation has a lucrative search deal with Google.
Some of the revenue also comes thanks to its controversially proprietary online bookmarking service Pocket, and some from sponsored content and donations.
But although the Google deal is sweet – Mozilla is very dependent on it and nervous about the prospect, however unlikely, of losing it. Therefore it always seems be on the lookout for new revenue streams.
In an interview with German media outlet T3N, the company's CEO, Chris Beard, said that it's aiming to launch the new version by October, with features like a VPN and secure cloud storage.
The company's already experimented with a VPN service by partnering up with ProtonVPN and offering a $10 subscription. Now, the company's thinking of offering some amount of free VPN bandwidth to get you started, and then charge a premium for metered access in the form of a monthly subscription.
So - what is the future? Are browsers to be divided between "free" browsers, that play games with Google, and paid browsers, which thumb their noses at Google?
And, how will all of that affect those of us who routinely modify their browsers? Will we have to work harder, for the same effect - or will we just be shot down in flames? Surrender to Google, or pay to browse?
Software developer Drew DeVault has written a post at his blog about the reckless, infinite scope of today's web browsers. His conclusion is that, given decades of feature creep, it is now impossible to build a new web browser due to the obscene complexity of the web.
I conclude that it is impossible to build a new web browser. The complexity of the web is obscene. The creation of a new web browser would be comparable in effort to the Apollo program or the Manhattan project.
It is impossible to:
- Implement the web correctly
- Implement the web securely
- Implement the web at all
Starting a bespoke browser engine with the intention of competing with Google or Mozilla is a fool's errand. The last serious attempt to make a new browser, Servo, has become one part incubator for Firefox refactoring, one part playground for bored Mozilla engineers to mess with technology no one wants, and zero parts viable modern web browser. But WebVR is cool, right? Right?
The consequences of this are obvious. Browsers are the most expensive piece of software a typical consumer computer runs. They're infamous for using all of your RAM, pinning CPU and I/O, draining your battery, etc. Web browsers are responsible for more than 8,000 CVEs.3
The browser duopoly of Firefox and Chrome/Chromium has clearly harmed the World-Wide Web. However, a closer look at the membership of the W3C committes also reveals representation by classic villains which, perhaps coincidentally, showed up around the time the problems noted by Drew began to grow.
An Open Letter to Web Developers (2020)
Google Now Bans Some Linux Web Browsers from their Services (2019)
HTML is the Web (2019)
The Future of Browsers (2019)
One Year Since the W3C Sold Out the Web with EME (2018)
Co-founder of Netscape (formerly Mosaic Communications Corporation) and of Mozilla.org, Jamie Zawinski, has some brief comments about the current situation with Mozilla and its browser.
Back to Mozilla -- in my humble but correct opinion, Mozilla should be doing two things and two things only:
- Building THE reference implementation web browser, and
- Being a jugular-snapping attack dog on standards committees.
- There is no 3.
And they just completely threw in the towel on standards when they grabbed their ankles and allowed W3C to add DRM. At this point, I assume Mozilla's voice on the standards committees has all the world-trembling gravitas of "EFF writes amicus brief."
By the way, one dynamic that the cited article missed is that a huge part of the reason for Google's "investment" in Mozilla was not just to drive search traffic -- it was antitrust insurance. Mozilla continuing to exist made Chrome not be the only remaining web browser, and that kept certain wolves at bay.
Google has decided that they don't need to buy antitrust insurance any more. Wonder why.