Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Google Toolbar for Firefox Has Been Discontinued

Another Google product bites the dust. This time it's a well-liked add-on: Google Toolbar for Firefox. Many users were surprised to see that Google hasn't rationalized the toolbar for Firefox 5, even though it wasn't a difficult task. After enabling the Add-on Compatibility Reporter, most of the features worked well in Firefox 5.

It turns out that Google no longer wants to modernize Google Toolbar for Firefox, but it doesn't admit that the product has been discontinued.

"Google Toolbar for Firefox is well-matched with Firefox version 4 or older. If you use Firefox version 5 or newer, you won't be talented to use Google Toolbar."

Google suggests a long list of add-ons that might replace Google Toolbar's features, but the suggestions are too generic. For example, Google links to the hunt results for [bookmarks sync] or [language translate] in the Firefox add-ons gallery.

A Google blog post offers an explanation: "many features that were once obtainable by Google Toolbar for Firefox are now already built right into the browser" and thanks the loyal users. That's also true for the IE toolbar, but there are many useful features that aren't built-in in the browser: auto-translation (a built-in Chrome feature), Google Bookmarks integration, using Google Docs to open documents, smart spell-checking using an online service, highlighting search terms, suggestions for navigation errors (another built-in Chrome feature), custom buttons and gadgets.

You almost certainly remember that Google Toolbar for Firefox was released in 2005, five years after the Internet Explorer version. At that time, Firefox users who wanted to put in a Google Toolbar with PageRank support could try an unofficial extension called Googlebar. Maybe that addition will be resurrected, now that Google Toolbar for Firefox is no longer available. Releasing some of the source code under an open-source license would be helpful.

For now, Google Toolbar still works in the latest Firefox releases if you put in the Add-on Compatibility Reporter first and restart the browser. Here's Google Toolbar in Firefox 7 Alpha 2 (Aurora):

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