Google ‘pauses’ Chrome updates because of coronavirus disruptions

A Google Chrome sticker

Google is “pausing” Chrome updates because of the new coronavirus.

Stephen Shankland/CNET

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Google decided to delay updates to its Chrome web browser because of the new coronavirus pandemic, the company said Wednesday.

“Due to adjusted work schedules at this time, we are pausing upcoming Chrome and Chrome OS releases,” the Chrome team said in a blog post. Google will continue to offer security updates to the current Chrome, version 80, Google added.

The novel coronavirus and the COVID-19 infection it causes have hammered businesses, especially those that rely on shipping, factories and other real-world resources affected by lockdowns to slow the virus’ spread. But Google’s announcement shows how even people who just deal with computers for a living are being affected, too. Closed schools, telecommuting and other factors can affect people whose jobs are already mostly virtual.

Chrome is the most widely used browser, accounting for 64 percent of web browsing activity, according to analytics firm StatCounter. Google typically releases new versions every six weeks, fixing bugs and introducing new features to try to make the web a more powerful foundation for apps.

Slowing its development mostly won’t affect ordinary people since Google doesn’t plan to pause security updates. But it does have other ripple effects on the tech industry since so many other browsers rely on Chromium, Google’s open-source software foundation to Chrome.

Among those other browsers are Microsoft’s new Edge, Brave, Samsung Browser, Vivaldi and Opera.

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