Mozilla Firefox underwent a massive UI change seven versions ago in Firefox 57 under the code name Quantum, its community is divided, but mostly accepted the changes as it provides speed. Google followed Mozilla’s footsteps, as it initiated a UI overhaul for Chrome in version 69 last September. However, compared to Firefox which is lagging when it comes to marketshare, Chrome’s influence is bigger. Over 60% of the world uses Chrome, making it the most used browser. Any change always divide the community, as the browser with the biggest user-base; a visible change such as the UI will alienate some users.
However, Google has a goal in mind to unify the look and feel for Chrome across all supported platforms: Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android and iOS. With the UI overhaul in Chrome 69, which can no longer be restored to the older UI the day version 71 was released, a portion of the Chrome community demands restoration of the old UI. With version 71, that option to restore to the old UI is no longer available, setting Reddit and Twitter messages into a hot discussion about Google’s inflexibility.
“Please don’t do this (use of old version of Chrome older than 71). As a Chrome dev, we would really rather you use another browser than try to lock yourself on an old version of Chrome. There are serious consequences to this, and much like choosing not to be vaccinated, the choice affects other people besides just you. For the Chrome changes, the majority of feedback we’ve received is positive; Reddit posts are not an unbiased, representative sample of all feedback. Regarding maintaining the old UI, I haven’t even finished completely removing it yet and I’ve already removed over 6000 lines of code in some of our most complicated classes. The cost to maintain this UI is significant. I invite you to consider the arguments at http://neugierig.org/software/blog/2018/07/options.html for why teams don’t necessarily choose to expose options,” explained Peter Casting, a Google Chrome Engineer in a Reddit post.
Aside from Mozilla and Google, Microsoft’s browser too is set to undergo massive change. Edge will no longer have an edge, but rather just a UI shell on top of the Chromium codebase. That was the decision Microsoft made, as they wish to be more compatible with Google Chrome’s scripting engine, V8. They see Google using their influence of implementing slight changes to their property, like Youtube which made non-Chromium browsers slower when visiting it.
As Edge will just be a UI shell on top of the open source Chromium code, it will follow the footsteps of Opera which abandoned its Presto engine, adapting Chromium as the base in version 14. The world of software is a world of constant change, especially in the browser space, usage is equal to dominance. The more dominant the browser, the more it can dictate the general direction of the web. When Internet Explorer was the dominant browser in the early days of Windows XP, proprietary extensions made by Microsoft forced web developers to install workaround in their code just to display the site correctly in Trident-based browsers (Trident is the rendering engine of IE). With the demise of Internet Explorer, the web is a much friendlier place for web masters to develop. The use of workaround has been eliminated as there are basically just three browser engines to take note of: Gecko of Mozilla, Blink of Google and Webkit of Apple.