Add-on Guidelines and Requirements in Action – Google Toolbar


Good add-ons are an important aspect of keeping IE running stable and fast. We made managing add-ons easier for users. We also made developing quality add-ons easier with clear guidelines and requirements for add-on developers.

When users can stay in control of their browser and their information, everyone is better off.   The IE guidelines and requirements are designed not only to aid in easier and faster development of add-ons but also to prioritize user control and protection of privacy.  As a result, when developers consistently follow the guidelines and requirements, users have a better experience.

Google recently released a new version of their Google Toolbar for Internet Explorer (and started their auto-updating process) with a few improvements worth noting:

  • Pressing the toolbar close button now offers an option to disable the Google Toolbar permanently, not just hide it. Previous versions allowed users to hide the toolbar, but the toolbar code still ran. Selecting the close button option in the new version displays a close dialog for the Google Toolbar, which is consistent with the default toolbar disable experience in IE8.
  • The Google Toolbar no longer modifies the IE new tab page, resulting in a predictable new tab experience for users.

Many thanks to the Google Toolbar team for their work here. We’re encouraged to see more add-on developers (following the Crawler Toolbar and AVG Security Toolbar) provide more predictable, reliable experiences for our shared customers. Developers contribute to a consistent and reliable experience in IE when they use only the supported, documented extensibility points.

- Marc Silbey and Herman Ng

Comments (21)

  1. vane says:

    so not helpful!

  2. dlh2009 says:

    I hate toolbars. Everytime I see them on one of my customer's computers I remove them. They seem to slow down the browsing experience. Not only that but poor code quality can open up my customers to security issues.

    Down with the toolbars!

  3. thenonhacker says:

    Please stop encouraging toolbars as plugins in the first place. If all websites create their own toolbars, the IE Browser canvas will end up to short, like 10px high, ROFL! I saw parody screenshots that mock IE with 15 toolbars! Serious joke!

    Plugins should be confined to 1 button or icon. That's why I like Firefox plugins. Most firefox plugins are not toolbars, yet they offer useful functionality. The best ones work just by being a statusbar icon with a right-click menu.

  4. Jack C says:

    Someone remind me to come back when I can hear about something innovative.

  5. N says:

    Please remind me to stop reading useless comments.

  6. I very appreciate to put the users in control of their browser, but as an add-on developer the guidelines also have the potential to forbid interesting use cases such as the Quero add-on, an experimental new user interface for IE8.

    The guidelines say "Do not limit the user’s ability to use Internet Explorer features", which was interpreted by the IE team as you are not allowed to make/install add-ons, which replace or improve existing IE features such as the navigation bar, status bar, search box, tab bar, etc.

    Or imagine an add-on that removes all toolbar close buttons, because some users prefer to browse without them. After all, the user would intentionally install this add-on.

    I think there are legitimate use cases for "Limiting access to IE features".

    Please also think about kiosk scenarios, where an add-on limits part of the user interface such as removing the address box etc.

  7. Another problem is that IE does not provide enough official APIs for add-on development.

    Here is a list of things which cannot be done in IE (officially):

    * IE is lacking official APIs for filtering DOM maninpulations (JavaScript calls, content creation) necessary for implementing ad blockers or content filters.

    * customize IE's user interface

    * hide the toolbar close button (some users prefer to intentionally remove them)

    * hide the favorites button

    * hide the address bar (for kiosk scenarios, etc.)

    * functions to get the information from the active security certificate (SSL, EV)

    * tab management (enumeration, tab events)

    * Aero UI support for toolbars

    * access to favicons

    * programmatic access to InPrivate Blocking

    I would really appreciate if the IE team would support above scenarios. Otherwise, users will move to other browsers, which allow these kinds of add-ons.

  8. David says:

    Is this really true: "Good add-ons are an important aspect of keeping IE running stable and fast?" I find that most add-ons provide redundant functionality inherent in a browser. There are a few good ones, like ad block plus – but stability and speed are not their goals.

    Consider making the process of installing toolbars a lot simpler and more straight forward. Do not allow third-party software to add tool bars without warning the user from ie. The current implementation where third-party software can enable a toolbar in ie via some checkbox buried in some third-party software TOS (e.g. yahoo toolbar in java, avg toolbar) is terrible and causes "my parent" to end up with a browser 5-toolbars buried.

  9. EricLaw [MSFT] says:

    Viktor: APIs do exist to get the "active" certificate, and have since IE8. Similarly, FavIcons are simply cache files, so I'm not sure what you're looking for there. As you probably know, most "kiosk" software in existence today is implemented as a wrapper around the Internet Explorer Web Browser control, which can be wrapped with none of the restrictions imposed on those writing IE Extensions.

  10. @EricLaw

    Can you please point me to the API, which gets the active certificate information (subject, organization name etc.)?

    Access to the Favicon icon: I mean an API to get the currently loaded Favicon (HICON) of the current page and an API to get the current FavIcon URL. It would also be nice to have Favicon support in the ITravelLogEntry interface, such as retrieving the Favicon URL of the recently visited Web sites.

    Nobody is forced to install an add-on. Add-ons are not only toolbars by the way. Think of ad blocker or the mouse gesture add-ons. There are legitimate use cases for replacing or enhancing IE features in my opinion.

    @Just a user:

    I am always grateful for bug reports (you can contact me at support at quero.at).

  11. Matt says:

    Well I've had people at my organisation complaining about the google new tab no longer being available so I guess thank you for all the headaches I've had from those users, and I suppose they thank you for lost functionality.

  12. Martin says:

    Toolbars should not even exist. All the functionallity Google Toolbar got should be added into the browser.

    It's really simple: WE DON'T NEED TOOLBARS! All toolbars only makes IE run way slower.

    Please! Help keep our end-users toolbar-free!

    - Martin

  13. Toni says:

    We should be allowed to choose for ourselves whether or not we want toolbars. Googles new tab was the most useful,and timesaving tool for my browsing needs.  And in my search to find out why I lost it, I've found that a lot of other people feel the same way.  I think Microsoft should address this.  Either allow Google to reinstate the feature, or develope something very similar.

  14. pennyc says:

    I voted with my feet and moved to chrome which still has the feature "most visited sites" on new tabs. Until IE get their act together and give the consumer what they want (by choice) I will not be using IE.

  15. Dock says:

    It is only the Quero add-on (developped by Viktor Krammer) that prevents me from switching to Firefox. Good add-ons on IE8 are difficult to find and MS wants to limit them even more! When IE is at 20% market share maybe they will think of changing their strategy… I know that for a company that is used to a monopoly situation, it is difficult to change but it is time for MS to wake-up and smell the coffee.

  16. Dock says:

    It is only the Quero add-on (developped by Viktor Krammer) that prevents me from switching to Firefox. Good add-ons on IE8 are difficult to find and MS wants to limit them even more! When IE is at 20% market share maybe they will think of changing their strategy… I know that for a company that is used to a monopoly situation, it is difficult to change but it is time for MS to wake-up and smell the coffee.

  17. HJ says:

    I LOVED Google toolbar's modified IE page!  And I hate this one!  Firefox here I come…

  18. BO says:

    There I fixed IE Disabled Windows Live Toolbar, and set my Tabs to up my first homepage which is now set to google. I will limit my use of Microsoft's features because they want to limit the features I can utilize with a proven 3rd Party Program. Great Way to keep constomer satisfaction high.

  19. idigweeds says:

    Dock… I too would be using Firefox were it not for the Quero toolbar.  Are you listening Microsoft?

  20. Ossian Howley says:

    Hi there,

    Really disappointed at your inflexibility here, the most visited sites is a very useful feature of the google toolbar. And the New Page tab in IE is not nearly as functional or easy to use. My expectation here is for you to remove this limitation on the google toolbar.

    Look forward to the change.

    Thanks

    - Ossian

  21. Matt says:

    This has nothing to do with Microsoft's "inflexibility" and everything to do with Google hijacking the browser in violation of the rules for add-ons… just like malware.

    There is literally nothing stopping Google from offering a version of their toolbar that *ASKS* the user if they want to change their default homepage to "res://googletoolbar.dll/newtabpage.htm" and offering the icon view.

    Why did google kneecap their addon instead of doing the clearly correct thing? Obviously, google is hoping to annoy users enough that they'll try the google browser, ignoring the fact that it spies on their browsing and uploads everything to google's servers.