Edit: Since I wrote this, the bug has been fixed. Thank you Google! ☻
Google Chrome, we will miss you.
Every piece popular piece of software has a heyday and a downfall. And if they are lucky, a resurgence.
And of course, when something is popular, a whole parade of vultures circle waiting for the slightest misstep.
Lately, we’ve been getting very odd service calls from our SMB customers. Beyond the usual “help me stop windows 10”, “my network is borked”, and “my printer is a demon from hell” types. These have all involved bizarre behavior worthy of a virus: random reboots, display driver corruption, software attempting to randomly install… I was convinced a new virus was afoot. And they seemed to have some commonality, a video was being played, or a heavy-script site like.. twitter, facebook, or tumblr was being used at the time.
Now, we have all heard of stagefright, adobe flash bugs, font vulnerabilities… hackers love the display! and we checked that all systems had been patched for such things, even back to first .png library bug.
After an intense process over two weeks of checking system integrity, scans with 5 different anit-malware engines, a few old tricks for 0-day bugs learned from years in the field… and testing to reproduce the bug. And of course the usual process with drivers, system updates, etc.
We found it. And it turned out, on every customer machine, Windows or Mac, to be Google. Fucking. Chrome.
There was however, another common thread among these machines besides a horribly broken browser. They were all built or purchased 2014 or prior. Businesses tend to keep machines around for a few years, and as processor performance has plateued, refresh cycles have gotten up to 3–4 years in the enterprise world, and SMB always keeps equipment longer than enterprise.
A company the size of Google, especially with the new customer facing ISP business they are now in, well, they should know this. And, with something as important to the ad business and corparate image as Chrome, they should understand. Hell, they only recently quit supporting Win XP.
Yet here it is, the big Chrome misstep the vultures have been waiting for, seemingly taking place only on “older” hardware.
If you told me 15 years ago that I’d be recommending Opera in 2016, I’d have told you I’d be happy to join you after work, but I have to stay sober until the end of my shift.
Yet, here we are, with things like Opera and Brave suddenly becoming necessary.
Six years ago I would have said “everyone will have to go back to Firefox” but Firefox has this problem with repeatedly shooting its own foot.
Damn thing must be a millipede.
Chrome has started on the path of missteps, and, by this time next year, either parts of the team will have been replaced, the corporate culture of Google finally matured, or, Chrome will have lost significant market share.
Every piece popular piece of software has a heyday and a downfall. And Google Chrome, I sincerely wish you a resurgence.