are chrome web apps now a closed platform?

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Michiel de Jong

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Aug 7, 2012, 5:08:22 AM8/7/12
to Chromium Apps
when i use my own browser to open my own app, i get a warning leading me to

http://support.google.com/chrome_webstore/?p=crx_warning

To me this means that for instance a Chromebook is no longer a general
purpose computer; device+app store become tightly coupled as a closed
platform where the device can only fetch apps from a proprietary
channel. Is this a departure from the open web philosophy?

I tried the same using Chromium from
http://commondatastorage.googleapis.com/chromium-browser-snapshots/index.html?path=Mac/150298/
but it had the same 'for your own safety' measures apparently. one
quote i didn't quite understand:

"The updated installation process [...] gives you more control over
the extensions you're adding to Chrome."

s/you/us :)


Ciao,
Michiel

Joe Marini

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Aug 8, 2012, 12:00:08 PM8/8/12
to Michiel de Jong, Chromium Apps
You can still allow your users to install extensions from your own site using Inline Installation, you just need to host the extension on the CWS. 

Joe




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Japhy Bartlett

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Aug 8, 2012, 12:22:08 PM8/8/12
to Joe Marini, Michiel de Jong, Chromium Apps
You've utterly missed the point of his email:  it's rather frustrating that we "just need" to host our extensions in a google controlled app store, "for our own good".  

It's not for our good, it's for yours, and everyone with half a clue can see through your bullshit.  But we're going to jump through your hoops because you're the omnipotent GOOG and we don't have a choice.

Michiel de Jong

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Aug 8, 2012, 12:31:23 PM8/8/12
to Joe Marini, Chromium Apps
hi Joe,

thanks for your reply.

On Wed, Aug 8, 2012 at 6:00 PM, Joe Marini <joem...@google.com> wrote:
> You can still allow your users to install extensions from your own site
> using Inline Installation, you just need to host the extension on the CWS.
>
> Joe

let me try to explain in a bit more detail why this worries me.

the fact that inline install is still available doesn't solve the
monopoly lock-in between device (chromebook) or browser (chrome) and
software provider (chrome web store). Free software is a battle that
has been going on for many decades.

In the early days of computing, computer vendors locked you into their
hardware by making software non-portable. the free software movement
and the invention of compatible operating system APIs like
posix/unix/linux and compatible hardware like ibm-compatible PCs
solved this, but commercial companies have continued to try to create
monopolies by creating tight couplings between various products.

the most famous example from the 90s was microsoft who integrated
internet explorer into windows. this was deemed illegal by commercial
competition laws, and they had to allow users to install browsers from
other vendors on their operating system. Chrome is one of the browsers
that makes up our landscape of freedom to choose which browser we want
to use.

it is important that i can use internet explorer to search on google
or i can use google chrome to search on bing. it's consumer freedom
that helps encourage competition and pushes both technology and user
rights forward.

about a year ago (or maybe it was two years ago) apple announced that
they would start to move their app store up from iOS to also OS X
devices. that means that although i still have the freedom to install
the software i want on the device i own, they are slowly creating a
"platform" where the application and the hardware / operating system
are tightly coupled. that is bad for freedom of choice.

suppose car manufacturers would team up with highway construction
companies and create highways where you are only allowed to drive
Volvo. it would meet with huge protests from the general public. Yet
the "electronic highway" is currently going towards such a situation,
and it's a sad thing imho.

for more info on why platforms are bad, see for instance 'freedom in
the cloud' by Eben Moglen.

i hope this explains my concerns a bit more and puts it in some
historical context.

Cheers!
MIchiel

Abraham Williams

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Aug 8, 2012, 12:51:47 PM8/8/12
to Michiel de Jong, Chromium Apps

On Wed, Aug 8, 2012 at 9:31 AM, Michiel de Jong <mic...@unhosted.org> wrote:
the most famous example from the 90s was microsoft who integrated
internet explorer into windows. this was deemed illegal by commercial
competition laws, and they had to allow users to install browsers from
other vendors on their operating system. Chrome is one of the browsers
that makes up our landscape of freedom to choose which browser we want
to use.

Microsoft got in trouble because it bundled IE with Windows not because it blocked browsers made by other vendors.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Microsoft

Abraham
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Michiel de Jong

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Aug 8, 2012, 1:07:35 PM8/8/12
to Abraham Williams, Chromium Apps
On Wed, Aug 8, 2012 at 6:51 PM, Abraham Williams <4br...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Microsoft got in trouble because it bundled IE with Windows not because it
> blocked browsers made by other vendors.
>
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Microsoft

right, sorry. you are right, on microsoft windows i can indeed (still)
install software from any supplier. that makes a windows computer
(unlike for instance an Apple iPad) a "general purpose" computer. So
why can't i configure my Chromebook to get its updates from a channel
that i choose? I don't need my device or browser to protect me from
choosing the "wrong" vendor.

We should be very careful which freedoms we are giving up here.
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