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Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge 'pause' updates because of coronavirus

Programmers might have an easier time telecommuting, but they're still affected by the pandemic.

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Google is "pausing" Chrome updates because of the new coronavirus.

Stephen Shankland/CNET
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Google will delay updates to its Chrome web browser because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the company said Wednesday, and Microsoft said Friday it'll do the same.

"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, the company added.

Microsoft's new Edge browser is based on Chromium -- Google's open-source software foundation to Chrome -- and it's now paused too. Microsoft will also release security updates to the existing version, along with regular updates to Edge beta and other test versions, said Kyle Pflug, an Edge principle product manager.  

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. Google's announcement shows that even people who deal solely with computers for a living are also being affected. That's because closed schools, telecommuting and other factors are affecting 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.

Other browsers in that situation besides Edge include Brave, Samsung Browser, Vivaldi and Opera.

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