Last fall, Google caused an uproar by announcing that it would begin winding down support for Manifest V2 extensions in Chrome in 2023. Because this would have a largely negative impact on several popular extensions, including ad blockers, the backlash was swift. Google ended up scrapping those plans and postponing the migration to Manifest V3. But it did not cancel those plans, and last week, the company announced that the transition is back on.
According to product manager David Li, Google will begin disabling Manifest V2 extensions in pre-stable versions of Chrome as early as June 2024. That means anyone on the Dev, Canary, and Beta channels with Chrome 127 or later will lose access first. Previously installed Manifest V2 extensions will be automatically disabled, and users won’t be able to install any Manifest V2 extensions from the Chrome Web Store either.
“We expect it will take at least a month to observe and stabilize the changes in pre-stable before expanding the rollout to stable channel Chrome, where it will also gradually roll out over time,” Li adds. “The exact timing may vary depending on the data collected, and during this time, we will keep you informed about our progress.”
It sounds like users on the stable channel will see the changes in July 2024 at the earliest.
Google says it addressed the most serious concerns of extension developers prior to resuming the transition from Manifest V2 to Manifest V3. In order to prove that point, the company shared this quote from AdGuard CTO Andrey Meshkov about Google Chrome:
With Manifest V3, we’ve observed the immense effort that browser teams (Chrome in particular, but also other browsers) are putting into working on a unified platform, and I see how they are listening to the feedback from extension developers. As always, migrating to a new platform is a large undertaking, but we’re very hopeful that the new unified platform will bring substantial benefits to the entire browser extensions ecosystem, and that ad blockers like us will be able to continue being up to the task and further improve.
This is in stark contrast to Google’s approach to ad blockers on YouTube. The company recently began cracking down on YouTube users who use ad blockers, forcing them to either turn off their extensions or find complicated workarounds. Google even admitted users with ad blockers “may experience suboptimal viewing, regardless of the browser they are using.”